Mapping my Runs
February 28, 2005 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I am getting into running, and would like to start planning routes for my runs.

I would like a good mapping application that will allow me to set a route, and have it tell me what the distance is for the particular route. The goal is to be able to set distances for routes that I end up back at the house within the certain distance. (ie. I don't want start running, end up 5 miles from home, and be exhausted.)
posted by benjh to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
Know anybody with a bicycle equipped with an odometer? Use that. Go for a short ride, clock the mileage.
posted by fixedgear at 11:50 AM on February 28, 2005

I haven't found anything good for this. I just run the route once with a good pedometer, and adjust it from there. Having little loop variations around your house are good for varying the distance by 1/4 mile or so, if you want to be spot on.

(A good pedometer in this context is either the Nike system or one of the GPS systems.)
posted by smackfu at 12:04 PM on February 28, 2005

I clock my road runs using the trip meter in my car.
posted by scratch at 12:09 PM on February 28, 2005

I run new routes quite a bit, and since my running training is mileage based, I have to know the miles. So there are three ways that I try to measure mileage, I'll list them in order of accuracy.
  1. Know your pace, I can run a certain pace and usually be within a 100 meters of a mile, repeat mile after after mile. This can be troublesome if there are hills or other terrain based slowdowns (traffic lights, etc.).
  2. Ride by bike and look at the odometer. However you are limited to where a bike can go.
  3. Use the odometer on your car, again limited to where cars can travel.
I usually try to run out and backs, to minimize the mile markers that I have to know, and when I first run routes, I usually have to run through the routes 4-5 times at different paces to get a good feel of where the mile marker is.
posted by patrickje at 12:09 PM on February 28, 2005

Also, local running clubs or your city's park department might be able to help you a little. In Minneapolis, I do most of my running around local lakes, and the distance around them is pretty widely available. If you can plan around something like that, you're really only on the hook for the distance to and from.
posted by COBRA! at 12:19 PM on February 28, 2005

I know this might sound obvious but... Do you already have a paper city map? Put it up on your wall, stare at it, study it. It takes seconds to measure out routes, distances, etc.
posted by gluechunk at 12:41 PM on February 28, 2005

The map trick might work really well if you have one of those little map wheels that set the scale, run it over the map and it tells you how far you have travelled. Personally, I like the bike odometer.
posted by caddis at 1:36 PM on February 28, 2005

I've always wanted to try out this GPS watch. It's costly (about $300), but it would be so useful to know exactly how far and how fast I ran and to have a map of the exact route.
posted by devilshgrin at 2:21 PM on February 28, 2005

Oh yeah, devilshgrin, GPS is a great solution. You can map elevation changes as well.
posted by caddis at 2:37 PM on February 28, 2005

I use Mapquest/Yahoo/Google's web apps and a spreadsheet.

Ask for driving directions for each leg of your run (ie from "Wilshire and La Cienaga" to "Wilshire and Hauser") and they'll give you the distance in miles. Input the results a spreadsheet and have it tally it up for you. It's sort of a duct-tape-and-toothpicks solution, and not all that exact, but it works for me. If your route is complex (lots of turns) it can get tedious.

Another benefit: I save all of my past and potential routes in one spreadsheet, so if I want to run 2-3 miles instead of 4 miles, I already have a variety of solutions at a glance.
posted by samh23 at 3:06 PM on February 28, 2005

As one who has run every day, except five, for over thirty years I would strongly encourage you to set your runs by the amount of time you want to run rather than distance you want to cover--it is the commitment to set aside an amount of time/work not cover a distance that makes a difference-nothing wrong with occasionally checking your distance but focusing on distance rather than time can lead to all kinds of nasty side effects--better to focus on the activity rather than the outcome--vary your routes,rotate between two pair of shoes and have fun
posted by rmhsinc at 4:14 PM on February 28, 2005

I use Map24 for the exact purpose you describe. Its interface allows you to trace a route and it will keep a running total of the distance covered.

Over time you'll develop an intuitive sense for how far you've gone and how much endurance you have left. You might want to plan a few routes to start out and then slowly add distance to them by going further before you turn around and loop back toward home. Let your body guide you on how much you should be running on a particular day. Hills, your energy level, and any injuries you're fighting will make a huge difference in how much distance you can cover comfortably.
posted by rhiannon at 7:30 PM on February 28, 2005

I was going to say something similar, rmhsinc, since I run for a set time. But on further reflection, I do really like to know my pace.
posted by smackfu at 7:30 PM on February 28, 2005

Both MSFT's Streets and Trips and MapPoint have a "measure distance" (under tools) function that allows you to draw a squiggly or straight line right on the map and then get the mileage for that line.

I use this all the time for the exact purpose you describe. My neighborhood in Portland is laid out fairly orderly, so I'll draw a line that measures a few miles, and will zig zag down blocks that I know are good for running. As the measuring tool calculates as I draw the line, I know when enough is enough.

I've put up a screenshot here.
posted by kables at 11:41 PM on February 28, 2005

I sometimes use - do a search for your postcode, then click on the little icon which looks a bit like a ruler. Othertimes, I use gartrip which is meant to be used with a garmin GPS (for calibration) and a scanned image of a map. Before I got myself a GPS I got a local friend with a GPS to calibrate some maps for me - it's not actually a difficult task.
posted by handee at 4:05 AM on March 1, 2005

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