How to Use Google Maps to Map a Run

Everyone uses Google Maps. It is one of the most pervasive applications out there for finding your way around. What many people don’t know is that Google Maps can be used not just for mapping car and transit routes but can also be used for mapping bike trails and running courses.

There are ways to use Google Maps to map a run itself, however, I found the easiest way to accomplish this was to use a tool called Google Map Pedometer. Google Map Pedometer extends Google Maps to make it very easy to map a route. I’ll take you through the steps:

  1. Type in a location on the location bar to get to the area you want to create a route for.
  2. Double click to add a pointer to the map where you would like to begin your route.
  3. Double click to add another point further on in your route.
  4. You can undo the last point you placed or reset the whole route altogether, if you make a mistake.
  5. You can then opt to save your route.

That’s it! It is super simple and intuitive. Other important things to note is that it automatically keeps track of the distance you have mapped in either miles or kilometers; perfect for map out a 5KM run or a half marathon if you so choose.

One thing that I found was particularly impressive (just a feature of Google Maps, I presume) is the ability to plot a route through bike paths and trails as well as roads (see the main blog post image). Google Maps is now very impressive for mapping areas other than roads too.

It is strange that Google hasn’t developed these tools yet given how useful they are. Then again, I suppose Google has other things to worry about — like mapping the globe. No big deal.

Give it a try. I know it will personally be my go-to site for any running routes I create going forward. Did you find it easy to use?

Map Pedometer | http://www.mappedometer.com/

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Cold Can Help You Burn Fat and Lose Weight (Seriously), New Studies Suggest

According to a series of scientific studies springing up across the United States, keeping cold may cause you to burn additional calories and allow you to lose weight. A recent article in Wired, “Tapping the Power of Cold to Lose Weight“, describes the medical race that has begun to take advantage of this theory.

The concept is simple: all day long, whether you are awake or asleep, your body is burning calories to keep itself warm. So, in theory, the colder your environment, the harder your body has to work to maintain a constant body temperature —burning more calories and fat to accomplish this.

I say “in theory” but a number of studies now suggest that there is a close correlation between body temperature and on-going calorie burning. The most brilliant thing about the concept is how simple it is. How the body regulates heat is fairly well understood, so it is surprising that it took this long for the idea of using cold temperatures to burn additional calories to come to light.

Pharmaceutical companies are now working diligently to develop drugs that will invoke the physiological processes involved in keeping the body warm. It is believed that BAT (brown adipose tissue), a special type of fat that is involved in converting fat to energy, can be influenced to increase fat burning. Drugs are now being developed to trigger BAT processes and increase the amount of BAT an individual has.

Ray Cronise, a former NASA material scientist, is the man behind the movement. He formulated his “cold weight loss” theory after investigating Michael Phelps. Phelps is known to consume 12,000 calories a day and yet did not gain weight in doing so. Many people believed it was because of his exercise routine but despite Phelps’ rigorous training, it did not explain how he was able to burn off 12,000 calories a day (more than 6 times more than the average man). Ray believes it is because he trains in the water which lowers his body temperature, contributing to an above-average calorie burn.Using Cold Exercise to Lose Weight and Burn Fat - Michael Phelps

Ray has since put his theory to the test by trying to keep his environment cold as much as possible, day and night. He was able to shed 27 pounds in 6 weeks by incorporating cold treatment into his exercise and calorie-restriction routine.

Ray and other scientists throughout the U.S. are now actively studying the affects of cold on the body as it relates to weight loss, as well as how BAT plays into the equation. For the fat nations of the world, where the U.S. is truly #1, this cold therapy may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Running For Charity, Exercise and Fun

I took part in my first “official run” of my entire life the other day and thought I would share my experience and encourage others to get involved.

Runs are so much more than just running – they are about getting out there and meeting people, about supporting great causes, getting exercise and having a ton of fun. There are few activities that are as fulfilling. I don’t want to get too airy-fairy here – I am simply saying that doing a run accomplishes a lot of goals at once and it feels great.

I have always enjoyed running but here’s the catch: I have asthma that, while fairly mild, limits my endurance. As a result I have spent my life as a short distance sprinter. Despite not being tall I was always really fast, but when it came to long distance running I truly came up short. I can remember taking part in a number of very short distance Terry Fox runs as a teen and hardly being able to run for 10 minutes at a time.

Sprinting served me well as a kid (I was always a champion at tag and track-and-field) but its usefulness fades with age. So I decided that over time I would work on my endurance so that I could focus on running on a consistent basis to stay healthy. A brief stint in the military greatly helped with this goal, as no one pushes you quite as hard as a drill Sergeant; often literally. Before I knew it I had doubled my distance, then tripled it and more. I am still far from my goals today but have come a long way and am proud of my progress.

I took a big step recently by making it out for my first organized run. Held at Etienne Brulé Park, towards the west end of Toronto, the event was Halloween themed and appropriately named “Are You Afraid of the Park?”. The run was organized by a group of students for an event-management project and everything seemed to go off without a hitch, so props to them!

Marathoners or regular runners may chuckle at the fact that the run was only 5KM, however, prior to learning about the event I considered a “good run” at the gym to be about 2-2.5KM. Doubling my typical workout at the gym seemed like quite the stretch considering I had only about a week’s notice by the time I had decided to partake in the run.

My first effort to run 5KM prior to the event failed miserably; I made it to the 3KM mark before stopping, exhausted and unable to continue. The pace I had set for myself was partially to blame. There is a lot of strategy around successfully completing a run (mostly at distances much greater than 5KM) as marathoners surely know.

After adjusting my pace, I was able to complete 5KM at the gym in 37 mins. Come run day I was able to take an average of the two paces I had attempted at the gym to be able to complete the 5KM run in just over 20 mins. Not bad for a first try, right? I was surely excited about my progress. What made the race even more satisfying and fun was that there were obstacles along the way, every KM or so. These obstacle-course-runs are becoming more popular and for good reason; they are a ton of fun!

Perhaps I got carried away with this story. The message I really want to get across is:

Charity Run - Exercise and Fun!

Runs are awesome. You will feel amazing, and for a variety of reasons.

  • Typically you are helping a charity
  • You will feel great about getting a good workout
  • You will meet some awesome people

After this experience I greatly look forward to partaking in more runs in the near future. Whether you are running 1, 5 or 42 kilometers, start with what you are comfortable with, and get out there! You won’t regret it!

Feel free to share your own running stories below. Now accepting encouragement.

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