How to use GMAP Pedometer for your run or ride, plus a note on its deficiencies.

As you will know from my previous article on online pedometers, I think measuring you work out is critical and one of the best ways to do so for free is a pedometer like GMAP Pedometer or Map My Run.  This resource has boosted my own commitment to running and I hope it will do the same for you.

My 1.5 mile route around the University of the West Indies, Jamaica

How To Use It

Fortunately, the sites are pretty easy to use. What is excellent about a site like GMAP Pedometer is that there is no need to sign up for anything. So to kick start your work out, all you have to do is follow the following steps:

  1. Simply go to the website,
  2. Type your location in the search window, where it say “Jump to”
  3. Find exactly where you want run by using the zoom and other navigation keys to the extreme right.
  4. You may use the satellite or map view, or even a hybrid. I suggest the map or the hybrid as the place names are easier to see.
  5. You can map for running or cycling; make sure you choose “automatically for runners” or cyclists, if you want to have your route plotted easily. You can use the manual options but it is not very easy or useful in my opinion.
  6. Make sure to choose “English” if you want to see the distance calibrated as “miles,” and “metric”, if you want to see it in “kilometres”.
  7. Once you have found where you plan to run, walk or cycle from, click “record”. It’s the button on the top left hand side, below the location search window.
  8. Once you click record, double click on where you plan to start from and you will see a red marker pop up.
  9. Once you have marked your starting point, continue to double click at points along the route until your route is complete. 
  10. If you make a mistake, simply press, “undo last point.”
  11. If you hate it all, you also have the option to “clear points and start over.”
  12. You can calculate calories burned by turning on the “calorie counter.”
  13. You can save your routes and even email them to yourself.

What are the deficiencies?

The major deficiency with an online pedometer in my opinion is that it locks you into roads and tracks it can pick up by satellite – this means, it locks you out of routes it cannot detect. This is problematic for three reasons.

  1. You may not be able to fully map the route you want.

There are some very prominent roads that the satellite simply does not detect. It hardly maps tracks or fields either; this means you are confined to road running – which you may not like.

  1. You cannot measure a trail run.

I found this particularly dissatisfying when I climbed the Blue Mountains this week, interrupting my mid-week training schedule. We were moving at a decent pace up the mountain and I wanted to know exactly how many miles we walked, or jogged or simply travelled. On that point G-Map just could not assist.

  1. It may deprive you of variety and spontaneity!

I want to head out and turn left and just run until I lose interest, then turn right, up a hill, down an alley, across a bridge, swim a canal, climb a mountain, jump out of a plane – you get the point. I want both a wide cross section of options, so that I do not get board, and also the freedom to choose my own path when running.

So there you have it, a great resource, but some undeniable deficiencies. At least until I have shown by my commitment that a fancy device like a Garmin GPS Watch is worth it, I will be satisfied with a few structured routes.

Was this article helpful for you? What do you think about the trade-offs that you may have to make in foregoing the purchase of a fancy pedometer device?

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