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Reprogram Your Run (or Ride)

If you're a runner or a cyclist in the D.C. area, your workouts are about to get a lot easier provided the weather forecast isn't lying: Tomorrow should bring an end to 90-degree heat, at least for this week.

But while it's still the usual hazzymuggyscorching mess, you can benefit from some quality, air-conditioned time in front of a keyboard. No, not by window-shopping for any new high-tech running/biking gadgets, but by using one of a handful of sites to plot a new route by clicking away on an interactive map or satellite photo.

I got into this habit two years ago, when the only way I knew to measure a route was to use the ruler tool in Google Earth. Then a reader tipped me off to Gmap Pedometer, which used Google Maps data to let users measure distances using any Web browser. A steady stream of updates added a calorie count and, later on, a graph of a route's elevation.

But since last year, this site hasn't seen any revisions to its features -- the last post on its change log came back in October. And several other sites have sprung up that provide the same functions and then some.

Back in May, for example, the Post's Health section recommended WalkJogRun. This Google Maps-based site lets you save your routes for later reference -- keeping them private or sharing them with other users -- and search through routes published by other users. You can also export a route for viewing in Google Earth. It provides a live calorie count, updated with each new route segment added--if you're feeling guilty about shoveling down a whole order of Five Guys' fries (620 calories!), this site will tell you exactly how far you need to hoof it. But WalkJogRun doesn't let you edit a route beyond erasing the last waypoint (a defect it shares with the route planner at Runner's World).

My current favorite is MapMyRun, which does everything that WalkJogRun does (aside from the live calorie count) but also lets you edit a course as you draw it. You can correct a misplaced click or revise your route to account for unplanned detours by dragging the waypoint icons that mark each turn. You can also place pointer icons for water fountains, bathrooms and other important stops. And if you've picked a less-than-flat route, a nifty elevation graph can show how many hills you'll eat. Lastly, its calorie counter factors in your gender as well as your weight and pace. (Sunday afternoon's bike ride burned 1,119 calories--guess I was justified in having dessert!)

MapMyRun (you can access the same service under the addresses MapMyRide and MapMyWalk) could stand some improvements of its own, though. Its route-drawing tools lack the flexibility of those that Google recently introduced for its "My Maps" site, which display the length of each segment as you draw it and allow you to insert new waypoints if, for example, a road reveals a few more twists in person than had appeared on the map.

Another thing that all of these Google Maps-based sites could use: More overlays showing running and bike trails, since most of them aren't listed in Google's map view and are hidden under trees in its satellite views.

What Web tools have you used to map out a run or ride? Share in the comments!

By Rob Pegoraro  |  September 10, 2007; 11:41 AM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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Comments

I've used MapMyRun.com. Now I just have to start running.

Posted by: Redwretch | September 10, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

USA Track and Field has a map generator based on google maps.

http://www.usatf.org/routes/map/

Posted by: CP | September 10, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I agree the MapMyRun.com is the best of the bunch, but that creating a route is a time consuming task. Though it gives you the option of editing a route, i have yet to figure out an easy way to do so (without erasing almost the entire thing).

One improvement that could be made is to automatically load the "add an activity" screen when you click on a day of the calendar. Currently if you click on a day of the calendar, you are brought to a daily log screen where you can record your morale, hours of sleep, the weather etc. While this may be nice for some, this is not the purpose for which I am the site. just nitpicky, but it could stand to be changed. I do like how it tracks the mileage on my shoes.

Posted by: J-Mart | September 10, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

My old ADC map book still beats Google Maps in this respect--it has several bike routes drawn on it. I still use it to plan my rides when I'm trying to get somewhere specific (but usually in biking or running I just go wherever and see where i end up, then see if I can find a different way to get back home)

Biking and running on major roads is noooo fun.

Posted by: BR | September 10, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the refresher on the running route tools and the repeat mention of WalkJogRun.net. We have the draggable waypoints as an option on the upcoming monthly feature vote we run through the newsletter on the site (http://www.walkjogrun.net/newsletter). You can sign up when you create an account or the next time you login if you already have an account and pick the feature you want me and Jeff to build. If the feature you want isn't there - let us know!

Adam Howitt
Owner of WalkJogRun.net

Posted by: Adam Howitt | September 10, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I've never heard of any of these. I'll have to check them out. I figure this stuff out using my GPS and MotionBased. Then I get my route info, plus time, speed, heart rate and calories.

Posted by: Andy | September 11, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I use FavoriteRun (http://www.favoriterun.com), which gives me elevation charts, a really nice touch...even if the results are a bit scary!

It's a pain to download the route maps, though.

Posted by: BikeCommuter | September 11, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Any suggestions for using my Treo 650 and a bluetooth GPS on a bike ride? Then I'd subsequently like to be able to upload the data into a Google Maps interface.

Posted by: Jonathan | September 12, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Also, try http://bikely.com

Posted by: Tom Trottier | September 12, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Good also for tracing canoe routes along the rivers and getting distances, elevations (ie rapids, falls, ...)

Posted by: Tom Trottier | September 12, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I've also a fan of MapMyRide.com and the GoogleEarth integration is fun too.

Looking at where you *have* been when you get home is great, but I'd also like some sort of overlay function so I could see where my rides so far *haven't* taken me.

Posted by: Dan | September 19, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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