When I first started running (you can read about that here), I needed to find a route near my house that was about a mile long and would allow me to circle back easily. I didn’t want to walk/run to a nearby park to start my mile, then still need to get back home, I wanted the whole circuit to start and end with my neighborhood.
There are many sites that offer up a route-marker style system, and the one that I used for a while was Google Maps Distance Calculator. This was a great setup at first, and enabled me to take those first steps out the door. First you plug in your starting address and your location is brought up on the map. Then you drop a pin wherever you’d like to start calculating your walk or run and continue to drop more pins along the way until you are satisfied with the distance and route.
After a while it became a bit cumbersome – don’t get me wrong, it did the job well, but I wanted something a little more fluid and easy to use, maybe something that was designed for runners. A short search on Google led me to a few, and after going through them I decided that I liked Running Map the best – primarily because it didn’t require me to log in to use it.
Running Map basically works the same way as the Google Calculator I used before. There are many other features of this site – adding elevation, points of interest, photos, etc. – but the only feature I really use is pre-planning out my routes. I’ve already run certain trails near my house so many times that I know exactly where I need to run if I want to do 1.75 miles or 2.25 miles. But now that I’ve hit 3 miles (yay for me!) I need to start mapping out some new circuits.
I think my favorite thing is that it drops an extra marker to indicate each mile along the way. I like to keep those mile-marker points in mind as I run and use them as extra motivation. There have been quite a few times when I think I’m totally spent, but then I realize I’m already almost to the 2-mile mark. That can be just the extra little push I needed to get me through that last mile.
I’ve also used this site to map my out-of-town runs. When Jay and I went to Toronto this June I simply marked our hotel on the map, then set a path for myself. I did the same thing at my parents’ house this week (although I needed my dad’s help to try to avoid the dirt roads as much as possible – passing cars kick up a ton of dust).
Another cool feature of this site is the search option. You can plug in your zip code or city and it brings up other routes that other runners have saved, sometimes with a nice description. This came in handy when I went to Toronto, since I wanted to see the routes that other runners liked the most.
And there you have it – an easy way to start mapping out your path. I can’t wait to get home to start mapping out some new trails myself!
PS – Just wanted to add that the maps shown above are completely random and are not located anywhere near my home.