Ok, I admit it, I am not a runner. Not really, anyway. I was on the track team in high school, but focused on events that are over before you even realize that you are breathing hard.
For many travelers, however, getting in their run is an important way for them to maintain their daily routine. Before the Internet, finding the best running routes was hit or miss. There are now many web sites and mobile applications that can not only improve your chances of successfully finding the right run but also can do a whole lot more than that.
My favorite, and seemingly the most comprehensive, is MapMyRun (part of the MapMyFitness group of sites). The iPhone app, in a nod to the device, is named iMapMyRun. Runners can search the huge database of international routes on the web site and then use the mobile application to track their runs. For example, I searched for a run in Victoria Park (London) without other parameters and was presented with 119 runs. When I refined this with the term “safe” it was narrowed down to 30 runs. After further limiting it to a run 5 miles or less, 4 stars or more, I was able to choose from 9 runs.
This application also has a lot of community features and comprehensive training tools. With these tools you can plan to participate in organized runs in the areas you are visiting or just get the most out of your individual run. And as you go through the search results, look for keywords like “safe” in the description so that the route you plan is less likely to lead to a situation you need to run from.
By the way, I shouldn’t limit this to running; they have also created two other iPhone apps for other methods of locomotion, iMapMyRide and iMapMyHike, and it looks like they are working on iMapMyTri and iMapMyWalk. All of them have companion non-mobile sites without the ‘i’ prefix. Plus, they are all free (the web sites are free as well with a premium membership available that adds certain features).
I checked out the reviews for the iPhone apps in iTunes and saw that while most users like the features of the companion web sites and also think the app has a great interface, it seems that for now the GPS mapping is fairly buggy. Until the MapMyFitness mobile apps get an update, you may be better off with Runkeeper Free or its Pro version, an iPhone app for $9.99. In addition to these two, there are many other web sites and mobile applications. Let us know what works best for you.