In a prior post, I shared a mobile application that makes it WAY WAY WAY easier for me to track my running progress. If you’re serious about breaking plateaus or running a half marathon eventually (as I did within a span of year, which is a reasonable target) then it is important to track your progress to see if what you’re doing is in line with what you want to achieve within a set time frame.
This method though takes a little bit more time than using a mobile application. So if you can spend $20/year to get the elite version of RunKeeper, then please go ahead and do so, it will save you a ton of headache especially when you’re too tired to log your progress on a spreadsheet (not to mention you have all the freedom to modify data as you please).
Software You Need
All you’ll be needing is Google Maps, so yes, you need an internet connection for this one. You’ll also need a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel. A free one is also available via Google Docs. I prefer to use Google Docs because I can input my spreadsheet on any computer. If you’re using Microsoft Excel and would like to have access to the file on different computers (or on your phone), you can download Dropbox (for free). It’s a neat syncing tool that syncs all your files painlessly. Mobile phones, iPads, have access to this same app. It’s free and you get 2GB (standard) +250mb space if you join through this link.
Plot the Course (via Google Maps)
Fire up Google Maps, and make sure you sign in with your Google Account. You won’t be able to trace paths without logging in first. One of the cool things about signing in is that you can actually save your race paths so you can tweak it or just use it for future reference.
1) Log in to Google Maps using your Google Account First
2) On the left side, click ‘My Places’
3) Just Fill in the Details then Hit Save.
4) The Middle blue marker is what you’ll use to mark your start position. Then the line path (the zigzagging line on the right) is what you’ll use to trace your running path.
5) Start Tracing Your Path (click on the image for a much larger shot)
6) Click done and you’re all set (you now have total distance of your path in miles).
Recording the Data in a Spreadsheet
There are really only a few things you need to record at least for me. The main performance metric I try to measure is my pace. On the average my time will be determined by the pace I run so it’s important to see how my running performance stacks up against the other times when I ran shorter distances or longer distances.
As the distance picks up the average speed would naturally slow down. That’s because you get tired eventually. Here’s a screenshot of the table I’m working with:
Here’s a graph of total distance traveled against speed, as you can see in the right part of the graph, distance traveled is higher and average speed decreased:
You can download an excel spreadsheet sample of the template I work with here.