Running: Choosing A Route

First, you're going to have to honestly assess your own fitness level. Got memories of running 10 miles/day a decade or two ago? Great! You already know the essentials. Never run a metre more than absolutely necessary? Great! You haven't got any bad habits to break out of.

It's better to run too short a distance than too far, so aiming for a 1 mile route your first time out is totally okay, and nothing to be embarrassed about.


There's two main schools of thought in terms of route:


This is the most common route methodology, and consists of running x laps around a predetermined course; i.e your local park. Whilst it has benefits in terms of consistency and modifiability, it has a few drawbacks. 


  • Easy to increase / decrease route length as necessary.
  • Consistent scenery, so the running itself can be focussed on.
  • Consistent route, so your average lap times over time can easily be compared and tracked.
  • Progress is easily monitorable (e.g "I have completed 3/5 laps").


  • Repetitive nature can lead to boredom during your run.
  • Any problems on your route (catcallers, aggressive dogs, etc) will be encountered repeatedly.


This methodology tends to be used more in inner city areas where no green areas are available, or in very rural area with only long country roads. 


  • Easy to increase / decrease route length as necessary.


  • Can be hard to estimate when you're 50% out of energy.


Google Maps

What Google Maps lacks in runner specific functionality, it more than makes up for it with excellent mapping of even the most rural areas. The "walking directions" feature is technically still in beta, but errors are going to be few and far between. Google Maps is perfectly suited for Point routes, and can be used to estimate Laps routes too. 

For Point routes, simply choose a significant landmark that you can confidently navigate to and from without concentrating. It's easiest to choose one in a straight line from your starting point, and make sure to take into account any inclines using the terrain option / cycle tool.
Google Maps' terrain display, and inclines / declines during along route.

Running Communities

Whilst there are far more detailed posts on individual communities, it's worth looking through some of the more popular ones (e.g RunKeeper), as most allow users to save / share routes. This is very useful for Laps runners, as the route will show the actual length you'll be running, and also ensure the place is runner friendly.
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