I’m not the most computer savvy kid on the block, but Web 2.0 still plays into my life. I love it when I can think, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a site/program that could help me do [whatnot]?”… A few minutes on Google, and sometimes I find what I hoped for.

This was the case when I discovered MapMyRun about a year ago. It does exactly that: it helps you map out running loops, so that distances are no longer a mystery. Kelly mentioned it here, (upon my valuable recommendation) but back then, the site had just the essentials. I checked up on it the other day to find that an update has made it the dream-site for runners, hikers, bikers, equestrians, skateboarders, dogwalkers — you get the point.

The newest features are a new look and a Training Log that helps you keep track of miles, calories and even sleep. Just go to the site (use FireFox) and after a little exploring, you’ll see why this site is so dang cool. But I thought I’d offer a little more insight for the ultimate student 2.0.

Looking for Loops

Though MapMyRun gives you an automatic “Out and Back” mapping option, most runners want a complete loop so that scenery is constantly changing. One of the main virtues of MapMyRun is how easy it makes loop-finding. Turn on the satellite or hybrid map and venture off the beaten path. I found gravel service routes, abandoned railroads and paths carved out by dirt bikes and ATVs in my area — which you could easily do with Google Maps — but MapMyRun lets you measure these distances. And for those who stick to the main roads, a new “Follow Roads” option (left toolbar) makes mapping a little quicker than it used to be.

 

 

Keywords

When you create a route to share with the public, you can tag them with keywords that denote everything from the quality of the pathway to the elevation changes, but you can also write your own keywords. Tag your runs with your school’s name and abbreviations. This will make it easier for other students to find relevant runs. That way, I won’t have to weed through all of the runs in Los Angeles just to find ones in my school’s burrow.

 

 

Google Mapplets

Google Mapplets are another way to find local runs — not to mention, the new feature hasn’t quite been released to the public. It’s a new third party API. Think of it like a Facebook Application for Google Maps. It’s a little confusing to setup, so here’s a play-by-play:


    1) Go to maps.google.com/preview. Make sure you’re under the “Mapplets” tab.
    2) Click “Add Content”.
    3) Click “Add by URL” (to the right of the “Search Google Maps Content” button).
    4) Enter http://mapmyrun.com/runfinder.xml into the space provided and click “Add”.
    5) Return to maps.google.com/preview and check the box next to your new Mapplet, “MapMyRun.com Run Finder”.

The Mapplet itself is self-explanatory. Center Google Maps on your location by entering an address into the top field and the Mapplet will show you the most viewed, highest rated and most recently added runs within a certain radius. The Mapplet points out the starting area and brings you to a map of the route via the link inside a pop-up bubble.