How to Calculate Running Distances

Written by dan gaz
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How to Calculate Running Distances
It's time to know how far you go. (run image by Byron Moore from Fotolia.com)

Gone are the days of guessing how far you ran by repeating your run in your car and checking the odometer at the end of your trip. Now, using your choice of a few simple online mapping programs, you can calculate your run either before or after, which makes training for an event much more accurate.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Locate the Google Maps Pedometer, hosted by Trails.com. From here, you can enter your starting point and hit "Enter."

  2. 2

    Click and hold on the map to move it left, right, up or down. You also can use the directional arrow controls to move the map around.

  3. 3

    Zoom in on your location by using the plus or minus buttons ("plus" zooms closer, while "minus" zooms away). If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, you also can use that. Scrolling up will zoom in and scrolling down will zoom out.

  4. 4

    Begin clicking on the map when you are where you want to be. Your first click will set your starting point, then every time you click after that, you are adding each turn to your route for that particular run.

  5. 5

    Locate the field below the box. It will contain your total distance for the run you just mapped. If you need the distance in kilometres, you can click on the radio button next to the "Total Distance" box.

  6. 6

    Hit the "Save" button next to the "Total Distance" field. This will bring up a URL on top of your map that you can save to your Internet browser's bookmarked pages for future reference.

  7. 7

    Click on the "Clear" button when finished. This will reset the map.

  1. 1

    Click on "Start Mapping" at the home page for Map My Run. Enter your current city, or desired running area, in the "Jump To" box and click "Go." If desired, you can toggle between different options like street map, street view, terrain map, hybrid map, satellite map or even a topographical map.

  2. 2

    Click on the map where you want your route to begin, and keep clicking along the route that you plan on running or already have run. If you find it easier when zoomed in, one double-click of the left mouse key will zoom in. One double-click of the right mouse key zooms the map back out.

  3. 3

    Click on "follow roads," located on the right-hand side of your map inside the toolbox. This will automatically try to keep you on the roads, so you won't have to worry about deviating from your route to calculate the proper distance. If you'd rather not have it follow the roads, you can adjust any of your points by clicking on the line between two points and fitting it as best as possible to your route by holding the boxes and moving each line the way you deem necessary.

  4. 4

    Continue to click along the map until you've reached your end point. The tool box on the right-hand side will calculate your distance as you go, and give you a final mileage or kilometre tally at the end.

  5. 5

    Return to the home page if you'd like to "find a run" rather than entering one by clicking on the "Find a run" option next to "start mapping." It should automatically pull up runs in your area, but if you want to find runs elsewhere, go to "Change search location" and enter the city and state or zip code of where you want to run.

  6. 6

    Choose one of the runs that pops up, or if you want to be more specific, you can choose "Advanced options," where you can enter distance, user ratings and route type.

  1. 1

    Go to the "America's Running Routes" section of the USA Track & Field website. The link on the USATF website looks like a blue picture of the United States of America.

  2. 2

    Enter your city and state, or just your zip code, and click "Go." The map should centre itself above your intended destination. You probably will need to zoom in on a more centralised location, so click on the "+" next to the toolbar window or double-click on the map to zoom in.

  3. 3

    In the toolbar section, select the crosshair to begin drawing your map. Click on your origin point and continue clicking along the map until you've reached your destination. Like the Map My Run site, there is the "out & back" option, and it does the same thing. It calculates a full loop from where you started to where you finished.

  4. 4

    Locate the box under the toolbar labelled "Distance." This is where the distance (in miles and kilometres) is calculated for the points you've mapped. To clear all your points and start over, click the red "x" in the toolbar that says "Clear all."

  5. 5

    Search other user-created maps by clicking on the "Search the database" option on the far left of the Running Routes page. You can enter ranges of distances to select, as well as different starting and ending points, and the city you're planning on running in. Once all your options are entered, click on "Search" and previous users' routes will appear when applicable.

Tips and warnings

  • If you're running in more localised areas (like parks), you might find the zoom function in Google Maps to be inadequate. Google Maps is better for longer runs with fewer turns.
  • Map My Run tools allow for an accurate distance reading. You're able to drag the route line until it traces your exact route. You're also able to click on the "out & back" function, which calculates a run to your destination and back to your origin, as well as the "center" option, which will attempt to re-centre the map to encompass your entire route on one screen. There are also 96 markers that you can place on your map, ranging from "start" and "finish" to "water" and "cattle crossing."
  • The USATF website is the most basic one to use, as there aren't many bells and whistles. It uses the same platform as the Google Maps Pedometer, so if you're skilled at using that one, it would be a good step down if you feel Google Maps is too advanced.

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