Measuring Distances

Measuring the distance of a run is very important for runners. It’s a means for us to compute our pace and to monitor our improvement. There are a lot of ways to do this, and here’s the progression on how I measured the distances of my runs… not surprisingly, it mirrors my progression as a runner:

  1. use a treadmill — this is where I started. I would hop on the machine, set my desired settings, and just walk/jog/run away. The machine then posts information like distance traveled, level of incline, speed and calories burned. This may seem fun at first, but once the novelty wears off, running in place begins to get boring. This tends to happen when the only view you get while running is your reflection staring back at you, huffing and puffing, and all sweaty…
  2. run on a track — my first taste of the outdoors. The view is different, I feel the wind on my face for the 1st time on a run… but like on the treadmill, all these become boring. The view becomes repetitive, and since a track is just 400 meters, to run 2 km, one has to circle the track 5 times. A 10 km run is 25 times around! Its like running on a treadmill, only its wider, and its done outside… of course, running on a track still has its advantages since this is a good place to train for those sprints and intervals (means to make running on a track interesting)…
  3. use streets as markers — with this, I wasn’t really able to measure actual distances. What I did was to run up to a particular street, then turn around and go back to where I started. Once my level of fitness improved, I would just run farther up to the next street before turning back. At some point however, I began to wonder how far was I really running. How far was the next street to the next? It no longer sufficed that I knew I was running farther, I wanted to know exactly by how much…
  4. use the kilometer markings in roads… in major roads, there are these kilometer markers put up near the side walk, where the distance to the next and preceding towns are engraved. It was a good thing that Roxas Blvd, where I did most of my runs, had these (KM 0 by the way is the Rizal Monument in Luneta). Because of these markers, I found out that Km 1 is near P. Gil, Km 2 is just before Quirino, Km 3 is just beyond CCP, Km 4 is just after Buendia, and Km 5 is in EDSA. This was ok until I noticed that minor streets didn’t have these markers, so running through them would mean I wouldn’t be getting the exact distances of my runs…
  5. use a map, a ruler, and some math skills… I bought a map of Metro Manila, which was drawn to scale. Using a ruler, I would measure the length of my running route in centimeters, then using ratio and proportion, would compute for the actual distance. Of course this wasn’t the exact distance, but it was a very good approximation. I actually had fun finding out how far one point was from the other using this method. A problem though was measuring non-linear shaped routes (circles, oblongs), and for some smaller streets, they weren’t drawn to scale! Since I didn’t want to cheat by assuming a route is longer when it might actually be shorter, I needed a more effective way of measuring my runs…
  6. use google earth — this program (which is downloaded from the net) uses satellite imagery and it has a function where you can measure the distance between two points, or of an entire route. Pretty accurate, however, this is very tedious to do. You also need to have a computer, and a fast enough internet connection for this method to be effective…
  7. get a garmin — I used to read from a lot of blogs on how runners would just snap these GPS sensor watches on their wrists, turn it on, wait for it to pick up a signal, then just run off. And as they ran, they can access information regarding their running, not just of the distance travelled, but also their pace, lap splits, time, calories burned, and a whole lot. It was all the information provided by a treadmill, strapped conveniently on the wrist. Whenever I read these, I was really green with envy! 🙂 So, I got one! And, it has so far turned out to be one of my best running gadget investments…

So why did I need to measure distances? It just arose when I noted I was improving with my running, when I began to feel I was running farther… and faster. But I didn’t want to just rely on my feelings, I wanted objective data that I could record, and analyse… in the hope that with these information, it would make me a better runner 🙂

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