I am a runner. I have been running since high school cross country and track. Back in those days we kept logs of our distance and times in a notebook, but, like all things, technology has made sweeping changes to all of that. Ten years ago, perhaps a little more, Garmin teamed up with Timex for a GPS watch that could track your runs — I spent something like $300 on one and it was cumbersome to wear, plus had spotty coverage.
Fast forward to today and things have changed dramatically — GPS watches do not require that big armband transmitter I once wore and data can be uploaded directly to fitness programs and web sites without the user needing to even lift a finger.
While there are multiple solutions to handle this, the one I have chosen to use in recent times is called Map My Run — the maker also offers similar services for bicyclists, walkers, hikers, triathletes and general fitness gurus. Registration is free, though there are premium services available for a price. All of these services also offer mobiles apps that are available for both Android and iOS as well.
The Home Screen
Once you sign up for an account on the web site and get logged in you will be taken to your brand new home page, which displays an overview of your workout.
As you can see in the screenshot above, there are quite a few options available to you once you arrive on this screen. However, let’s start with the obvious — looking at your workouts.
The screen shows mileage, time, calories burned and workouts. There are two dropdown lists to switch the view from daily to weekly, monthly or yearly and also distance to other views like number of steps, duration and calories burned.
Create Maps of your Runs
For me, this is where Map My Run really shines. While I will always wear my trusty Timex Ironman watch, I do not want to spend the extra on one with GPS and I certainly do not wish to strap my 4.7-inch screen Android phone to my arm when I go out for a run, though the mobile app will track my distance, route and time. The “Create Map” page solves this dilemma for me.
Once you have input your home location during setup, this will become your default starting location whenever you enter this screen. From here, you can proceed to click and trace your route down any roads on the map — the map will scroll as you move along. It will also continues to calculate the distance as you move along, displayed in a box to the right.
You can view the area by traditional map (the default) or switch to satellite or even topography view.
Maps, once created, can easily be saved and you will soon accumulate a collection. Each can also be given a descriptive name so that you can easily recognize them.
This is the part I like best. I have accumulated a number of maps for my area and I can easily use them to look for a run based on the distance I wish to cover that day, plus it shows me exactly what the route is. This makes picking runs on a daily basis very easy.
In addition to these, you can also simply go out for a random run, though you will need your phone to come along with the mobile app running, and the service will map it as you go and then save it as a course so that can choose to do the route again in the future.
Using the Home menu at the top of the screen allows for more views, including a monthly calendar that sums up daily mileage and weekly totals.
- My Workouts
- My Maps
- My Courses
- My Achievements
- My Nutrition
- My Community
Look for Other Maps
Under the maps menu there is an option to look for maps that other users have shared. By default, this shows areas near your home, but its handy if you are planning a trip to a location that you are not familiar with.
To do this, simply add a new location. You can also narrow your search by entering a minimum distance — such as you would like a route of at least three miles.
Don’t worry — you won’t likely be going to someone’s home to start your run. Routes that are publicly shared generally begin from a public location such as a parking lot or park.
I have only touched on my favorite features for Map My Run. There are many more things you can do with it. You can track your eating habits and nutrition, view elevation changes on any of your mapped routes to guage the amount of feet climbed and descended, get training plans, various calculators and much more.
There are countless options available out there to handle this type of thing, and I have tried several of them — both web-based and mobile. I always come back to Map My Run because of the features, the cross-platform availability and the free options. It is simple to use, intuitive, provides everything I need to know as far as information about my runs and does not crowd the interface with unnecessary information.
The biggest thing, for me personally, is that it works seamlessly between between my computers and my Galaxy Nexus, trading information back and forth and allowing for easy transfer of maps between the two. Plus, did I mention that it’s free?