Tuesday, May 21, 2024
For men, women, and teens

How to measure your run or cycle distance: 3 easy options

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

Man and woman jogging together

How far did you run?

Luckily, this is an easy question to answer. There are several different methods listed below that you can use to calculate your run or cycle distance.

Beside mapping previous routes, these methods also work equally well to create new cycling or running routes of a known distance. This is important if for example you're training for a 5K and you want to try out a route that's exactly 5K.

These route calculators are all free and do not require any accounts or login information. You can just jump right in and calculate your distance.

Option 1. OnTheGoMap

By far my favorite for its ease of use is OnTheGoMap.com. The search bar allows you to enter a location or address to center the map, but you're not locked into that being your start point. To start plotting your route, simply click once in the place where you started. Then add more points by clicking along the route you took. You can also drag existing points if you want to modify something.

I love the feature of "snap to best walking paths" for if you're running, or "snap to best biking roads" for cycling. In this situation, your map points will follow the roads (or walking trails) and you don't have to painstakingly place tons of points along a road manually. On the other hand, if you're going cross-country, you can turn off this feature and instead select "draw straight lines" which lets you freely plot a route anywhere on the map, regardless of roads. This is good if you're running around the outside of a football field, or in a park, for example.

Runners and cyclists will love the ability of OnTheGoMap to toggle on and off the elevation profile of your route too. You can also save routes and share routes with others. Distances can be toggled in miles or kilometers.

The only downside of OnTheGoMap is that there seems to be no way to create a "there-and-back" route easily. Instead, you'd need to plot the points there and points back, there is no easy way to automatically double your route. Of course, if all you need is the distance then you can simply map the points one way and multiply the calculated distance by 2.

Option 2. gmap-pedometer

Another option is gmap-pedometer.com. It works very well, although I found it slightly less intuitive to use than the previous option. With gmap-pedometer you'll need to use the search bar to enter the general start area, then you need to click on "start route" then double-click your start point and each point on the map. Each point will be labeled as "end" until you add the next one, don't let that put you off, just keep adding points by double clicking.

As with the previous option, you can have your route snap to roads automatically for runners, automatically for cyclists, or simply draw straight lines yourself.

An added bonus is that if you're doing a there and back run, then at the halfway point you can click "retrace to start" to save you having to add the return trip manually. You also have the ability to name your route. You can opt to have it automatically add mile markers in for you - a huge help for runners. You're also able to toggle between distance in km and miles.

I encountered only two issues in gmap-pedometer: the first is that for some reason the elevation information did not come up in my area (whereas it did for the same route in the other options). The other issue is that it does not "remember" the general area to zoom in where you started from when you open gmap-pedometer a second or subsequent time. From a privacy point of view this is of course great, but I found it a little impractical to have it start zoomed out on a world view each and every time I wanted to calculate a run or cycle route.

Option 3. MapOMeter

MapOMeter.com works beautifully on its free version and offers some additional (actually useful!) premium features that are absent from the first two options - more on that in a little bit. Yet the good news is that even the free features (no login needed) offer you everything and more than the previous two options. So this is by far the most fully-featured of the options, but on the other hand it's slightly less intuitive to use.

You'll need to start by using the search button to enter the general location of your start area so it can center the map. The search button is a bit too small and not at all obvious, but rest assured it's there! Once you've done that, press "start" and then you can record your route by adding points - single clicks only are needed. As for the previous options, you can choose between the ability to have it snap to roads or let you draw straight lines. You have the option to toggle "out and back" if you want to add the reverse route in as well.

By default MapOMeter automatically places km or mile markers (you can toggle this off) - I love that it defaults to having this on. Please note that markers will be in whatever distance units you're using, so if you map your run in kilometers, it'll put km markers on, and if you're mapping in miles then it'll put mile markers on. You're also able to toggle on and off the elevation profile of your route, as for the previous two options.

Be aware that MapOMeter defaults to kilometers as the unit of measurement, and although you can switch to miles it's not intuitive how to do it (it's under "preferences" in the menu on the left).

In addition to the distance, it also automatically tells you the total ascent, descent and approximate energy burned. This is all available in the free features!

If you choose to subscribe to MapOMeter's premium features, you'll gain the ability to identify nearby parking lots, toilets, restaurants, river crossings and much more.

The bottom line on calculating your cycle or run distance

Any of the 3 options above are perfect for figuring out how far you ran or cycled. You don't need any special equipment, apps or logins. You simply place your points by clicking on the map.

To sum up, if you're looking for ease of use and speed of entering your route, then OnTheGoMap is your best option. On the other hand, if you want the most fully-featured option you should go with MapOMeter instead.

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