How to Plan a Running Route Using Map Apps on Your Phone

Running is a sport you can do from almost anywhere—right outside your home, hotel, or workplace. All you need is a pair of good running shoes and proper athletic apparel for whatever climate you face. You can easily pack these items with you, just in case the opportunity to take a break and run presents itself.

When you find yourself traveling and want to go for a run, or you are looking for a new running route in your town, you can use multiple sources, like map apps, to plan it. Creating a running map with these digital aids can ensure you stick to the course and mileage you prepared ahead of time, as well as help you from getting lost.

Drive the Route

The main way to check out a potential running route is to simply get in the car and drive the route. You can check out safety issues, including places to cross the road on foot, surface conditions, and if you will incur traffic. This also gives you an opportunity to discover any hydration opportunities, such as water fountains, gas stations, and places to hide water ahead of time along the route.

Use a Map or Google Maps

You can use old school maps, which are often available in gas stations, to chart a new running route. Tracing the route in pen and sticking the map in a pocket makes this old-fashioned navigation system easy to pull out and follow as you run.

For a more modern choice, using Google maps on your smartphone allows you to create your own running route. The app gives real-time GPS navigation and traffic information to keep you on the right track and most importantly, safe. You can also plot grocery stores, gas stations, and parks for rest and hydration stops. This app is usually automatically downloaded on your phone, so the convenience is there.

Download an App

Running apps are useful for planning routes. You can often crowdsource popular, safe routes from millions of other runners; and apps help keep you from getting lost when you’re in unfamiliar locations.

Here are a few apps to try and see how they work with your running style.


The Alltrails app provides curated trails for walkers, hikers, and runners. All routes are verified by trail experts and reviewed by Alltrail’s global community. This app is one of the most used platforms in the world, with more than 45 million users and 10 million registered hikers and trail runners in 102
countries. As a bonus, the app can locate where you are and offer a number of suggestions immediately.


Powered by the apparel brand Under Armour, the MapMyRun app offers thousands of running routes in every state and in 14 countries. You can search for local running locations customized by length. You can also receive elevation information and configure the app to display your workout statistics (the app records the run using GPS data).

Once you have used it for a few runs, MapMyRun has a Route Genius function in which the app builds you a custom route using data stored in the system. Artificial intelligence can actually build you your own personal running route.


Strava is one of the most popular apps for runners because of its social network features. Strava tracks your physical exercise using GPS data; it is recording your run, mapping your route, and analyzing your training stats each time you use the app.

Strava also contains a social component, allowing you to see your friends’ workout activities and compare yourself to them for friendly competition. The app also provides a blogging platform for its users on which everyone can post stories, photos, and updates.

Safety should always be of utmost importance. When planning new routes, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area, local running club websites, running stores, or even some hotels have recommended running routes or running clubs you can join while traveling.

When traveling to a new area or if you want to experience a running route near your home or work, you can do so with helpful apps. These apps provide running routes based on your preferred distance, elevation gain, and type of terrain. This said, the most important element of running is staying safe; if you feel unsure of any run, skip the route and work out inside.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I map a run on Google Maps?

    You can map a run on Google Maps using the walk feature. Google has updated Google Maps to make the app helpful for those who want to go somewhere on foot. Google also added a new Detailed Voice Guidance to alert you when you’re nearing busy streets and how long until your next turn. This allows you to plan for safety on your run.
    To use this walk feature, open the app and tap the directions button at the bottom. Enter where you want to run. Select walking directions at the top of the screen and get going.

  • How many miles should you run in a day?

    How many miles you should run in a day depends on your running goals. When running to get or stay in shape, the American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. You can get in whatever mileage possible in this timeframe.

    When training for a foot race, you can follow any number of training plans. These are peer-reviewed recommendations on running and training volume for popular long-distance races:

    • For half‐marathon runners, a high training volume of greater than 20 miles per week and a long endurance run of greater than 13 miles per week are associated with a less decline in pace. 
    • For marathon runners, a high training volume of 40 miles per week is associated with a faster finish time than those with a low training volume of 25 miles per week.

  • How do I map a run on a smartphone?

    To map a run on a smartphone, you can download a number of apps from any app store, such as Google Maps (which is often preloaded on your smartphone). These apps allow you to find local running routes or map your own custom route.

    Such apps include the following:

    • Alltrails
    • Mapmyrun
    • Strava
    • Google Maps

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, CPT

Jennifer Purdie, M.Ed, is a certified personal trainer, freelance writer, and author of “Growth Mindset for Athletes, Coaches and Trainers.”

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