A Little Get Up and Go: Choosing a Running Route for Success
Whether you are a complete beginner about to kick-start a lifestyle change, a weekend jogger looking to spice up your routine, or the star of your local running club, choosing a running route should be the first port of call before lacing up your running shoes. Here are some important tips to help you put together the right running route – no matter your level of experience, ability, or ultimate goals – so that you can make the most of your time putting foot to earth.
Choosing a running route: Your checklist for success
Despite the lure of simply lacing up and running out the door, you should give some thought to the route you’re about to run. Knowing where you are running, the expected distance, and being ready for any surprises can make or break your workout.
Here are several considerations to keep in mind as you plan your route.
o Length of the route
o Accessibility of the path
o Time of day
Knowing your goals can affect the route you should choose. Perhaps you are:
· Training for a specific event, such as a marathon
· Running to improve your cardio fitness
· Looking to build endurance
· Trying to burn as many calories in the shortest time possible
If you are training for long distance, you may want to consider routes of different lengths – beginning with shorter distances and progressing to longer routes – so you can build up your endurance over time. If you are attempting to torch calories quickly, you may want to consider routes that contain plenty of hills. When running uphill, we generally exert more energy, meaning more calories are burned than when running across a similar, flat distance.
Location, location, location
The planning of your route will also depend on where you are in the world. If you are located in a city, your considerations should be a little different to those for a route in the countryside.
As a city dweller you might need to consider:
· The possibility of heavy traffic
· Crowds of people
· Desiring a scenic view
· Air quality
If you are running in the countryside, you will likely have to think about:
· Accessible roads or pathways
· Running on private land
· Avoiding stretches of a route that is poorly lit
Understanding the terrain and what to expect will help you avoid unnecessary delays and make the most of your run.
Safety should always be an important consideration when it comes to choosing a running route. Regardless of location, understanding where it is safe to run must be central to your plans. If you are running at night, make sure your route is well lit (and you are wearing clearly visible clothes, such as a high-vis jacket). Similarly, if you’re running early in the morning (and alone) stick to well-travelled paths and avoid areas that are isolated. One of the best ways to stay safe running is to map out your route before you decide to run it.
A running route planner: How to plan your route
Okay, so you have goals in mind and have considered your location from both a scenic and safety point of view. What is the best way to actually go about planning your running route, in a way that is quick and convenient?
The old-fashioned way
Once you have an idea of where you want to run, one of the best ways to map your route is to walk it first. This way you can check off all points on the lists above, see how long it is, the surface you’ll be running on, and if there are any inclines, or danger spots like traffic or poorly lit areas.
If walking your route as a way of creating it doesn’t appeal, luckily there are many apps and websites out there that can help you organise your run before you set foot outside the door. Here are just a couple:
o Google Maps
Not only a life-saver when it comes to finding the restaurant you’re late for, you can quite easily create a running route on Google Maps by choosing a starting location and then dragging your pin to the finish line.
Built specifically for planning and mapping routes for runners, Runkeeper is a great app to use when putting together new routes. It has a bunch of crowd-sourced routes based on your location that you can sort according to length, terrain and other tags. You can also save old routes and compare your training data across weeks and months.
Plan it, map it, go!
A well-planned running route is great for keeping you in line with your fitness goals, exploring new areas and giving you a spurt of motivation when you need it. So, next time you lace up your running shoes, opt for fresh air instead of the treadmill.