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Beginner Runner

How to Plan a Running Route?

4 Mins read

Outdoor running is one of the best things you can do to take care of your health.

But, often than not, it is not as simple as heading out the door and hitting the pavement, especially when you’re serious about your miles.

To get the most out of your outdoor runs, you’ll want to plan the perfect route.

Whether you’re a beginner runner or already training for your 9th marathon, in today’s post, I’m going to share with you the tools you need to find and plan the perfect running route.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

Why Plan Your Running Routes?

Planning your running routes is key—or else it’s not easy to tell how far you have run or will run.

This can cause you to either over-or underestimate yourself, which can cause more harm than good.

The last thing you’d want while running is to find yourself 6 miles from home base dying of thirst or needing to go to the bathroom and still have to return back home somehow.

What’s more?

Planning your running routes helps you improve motivation, stay more consistent, and provide more terrain variety.

It also helps make your training safer and more enjoyable.

What’s not to like!

How To Plan A Running Route?

Here are some of the measures to take to help you plan your running routes so you can have the most out of your runs.


Stay Safe

The most important factor to consider when planning a running route is safety.

The last thing you’d want is a running course that’s going to give you an upsetting experience.

Here’s how to ensure road safety.

  • Learn more about the course. If this is your first time trying a running route, try to find out as much information about it in advance. You can use Google Street View to zoom in on routes—you can also try driving or biking through it first.
  • If you live in a highly-populated city, pay attention to traffic or crowds in your surrounding area. Avoid busy streets and over-crowded sidewalks. That’s why it’s best to run early in the morning before the rest of the world starts waking up.
  • Proper light. If you plan to run early in the morning or late in the evening, make sure the course is properly lit.
  • If you plan to hit the trails, find out more about the sort of animal you could run into. For more on how to deal with animals while running, check this post.
  • Leave word. Always tell a family member or a friend where you’re going to run and when they should expect to hear from you back.

Use Apps

Whether you prefer to log in the miles on a familiar road or are a keen trail runner out there to explore uncharted terrains, there are many apps out there to help you run more efficiently.

Running apps can help you monitor pace, duration, distance, calories, elevation, and so much more—all to help you reach your running goals.

Of course, there’s an app—more like a dozen—for planning running routes.

Here are my best recommendations:

  • Plot Route. This works very well if you prefer to plan your running route on a laptop. As you plan your course, this tool will work out your running distance and provide you the option of adding running speed.
  • You can find the “route” tool in the premium version of Strava. Just put in how far you’d like to run and whether you want to avoid hills.
  • This one lets you sift through dozens of crowd-sourced routes, then filter them by length, ascent, and more. To check routes on MapMyRun, go to the Routes page and put in your address. The result should come up with a list of various user-created routes in your region.

Can’t find what you’re looking for on an app? Try Os Maps.

Ordnance Survey (OS Maps) is a hugely popular map-building tech that works well for planning running routes.

Sure, you might need to subscribe to get some of the features, but the free version has to offer.

Additional Resource – Here’s how to create a running program

Google Maps

The most useful tool for planning any type of route is undoubtedly Google Maps.

Google earth, both the browser-based and desktop versions, have built-in measuring tools that can help you plot running routes.

What’s more?

Planning your own running routes with Google Maps is quite simple.

1 – Determine your starting point, either by clicking the arrow icon (if you’re at the starting point) or by entering an address.

2 – Be sure to zoom in and out as well as drag the map using the map controls.

3 – Start drawing your running course by clicking on the map to set the starting point, then choose points along the course you’d like to create to work out the distance.

Sounds too complicated?

Check out the following YouTube Tutorial to learn how to plot running routes using Google Maps.

Plan Your Route According To Your Run

Whenever you plan a new running route, think about objectives too.

That’s why you should match your route to your run.

In other words, your routes have to satisfy your workout intention—or else, you might be heading in the wrong direction.

What type of terrain do you want to cover?

How far you’d like to go?

Are you looking for hills?


Planning on doing an easy run?

Choose a route where you can have the opportunity to get lost in the surroundings and not worry about speed.

Or, if you’re planning on doing speedwork, head to a track rather than the busy streets of your city.

how to plan a running route

Change Up Your Running Routes

To keep things interesting, try doing more runs on grass, hills, gravel, sand—anywhere as long as it’s doable and safe.

Adding variety to your training can also force your body to adapt and get used to various running scenarios, making you into a better runner.

Additional resource – Guide to urban running

How to Plan a Running Route – The Conclusion

There you have it!

If you’re looking for practical ways to plan your running routes, then this article should get you started on the right foot—both figuratively and literally.

The rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong

David D

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