Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Keeping track of your mileage

Want to calculate how far you've just run? Here are three very different methods for getting the job done:

1. Do it the old-school way: Get in your car. Drive to the starting point. Reset the trip odometer to zero. Traverse your route. Note mileage at finish point. Realize you've wasted gas. After all, why drive when you can ...

2. Just hop online: Simplest no-frills site is Google Maps, which has a distance measurement tool that tallies mileage as you click out your route on its street maps. Similar software drives sites like MapMyRun.com (which I've used) and Favorite Run (which was recommended by reader Greg Frampton); both let you keep a log of your daily/weekly mileage, save favorite routes, track calories burned, and more.

3. Make an investment: If you're no longer a beginner and are starting to get serious about training -- maybe you've signed up for your first half-marathon, maybe you're on your second pair of $100-plus shoes -- you might want to consider a GPS watch. They use the same receivers as car navigation systems to pinpoint your location down to a few feet, giving you extremely accurate readings of distances covered. And because satellites are tracking your every move, a GPS watch can also tell you how fast (or how slow) you're running. They can even record changes in elevation.

I'd recommend Garmin's Forerunner 305; retail is $300 (available at Dick's Sporting Goods, REI and other stores around town), but Amazon's got it for $175. Once you run with a good GPS watch, you'll never run without it.

Now, all this said, there's a caveat ... and that is ... don't get too obsessed with how many miles you're running, especially if you're just getting started. Just get out there and try to keep moving for 20 to 30 minutes a day (or every other day even), whether you're running, jogging, or just taking a brisk walk with a few jogs mixed in. Trust me -- there'll be plenty of time to obsess over your mileage later.

Do you keep track of your mileage? Got any other tips?


Priscilla said...

I like using http://gmap-pedometer.com. It lets you set it to "manual" so you can track non-roads too.

Anonymous said...

The Garmin Forerunner 405 is great, too. I got mine for Christmas and haven't run without it since. It's a little less chunky than the 305 (But perhaps a little more pricey, especially with the HR monitor option.)