Whether you're a serious runner or a casual jogger, tracking your workouts will help you get and stay in shape. Enter MapMyRUN. This free (but ad-supported; ad-free paid versions available) cloud-based service offers a host of tools for runners of all levels.
Getting started with MapMyRUN is a breeze: Sign up for a free account, and you'll be good to go. Your options for planning and tracking workouts and nutrition are neatly laid out, in a tabbed interface across the top of the screen. From your Home screen, you can see your recent activity, including workouts you've completed and food you've logged.
Clicking the "Routes" tab takes you to the key section of MapMyRUN, where you can create new runs and search for existing routes nearby. You enter your location, and an embedded map shows nearby routes that have been created by other users. You can narrow your search by workout distance, activity type (running, biking, hiking, dog walking, commuting, and more), and location. If you're one of those runners - like me - who easily tires of the same scenery, this is an easy way to find new routes. I was impressed with the number of routes I found near my house in suburban Boston, and I liked how I could preview the route on a map or in a 3D flyover, powered by Google Earth, but displayed inside the MapMyRUN window. See all: PC Advisor software downloads
I was also impressed with how easy it was to map the distance of my favorite running routes - as long as the route was pretty basic. MapMyRUN lives up to the promise of its name by allowing you to track your route on a map, and shows you both the distance and elevation of your workout. On occasion, though, I found that some of its controls needed a little fine-tuning. When I mapped a basic loop that I jogged around town, MapMyRUN worked great. See also: Five of the best free fitness-related iPhone apps
I easily clicked on the roads to track my steps, and saved the route without a problem. But sometimes, when I backtracked or used the same roads more than once during a run, MapMyRUN didn't understand my intent. Instead of understanding that I had backtracked, it instead assumed instead that I was editing the route on the map.
And, when I tried to use its "lollipop" feature to map a longer run that was in a lollipop shape (in which I ran down a straight road, around a lake, and back to my starting point via the same straight road), the controls were confusing. MapMyRUN instructed me to simply click to create the loop on the map, but when I did, it didn't put the loop in the right place; instead, it tracked my route directly across the lake. After playing around with the map for a while, I was able to map the route successfully, but it took longer than I'd like. See also: Video: Fitness & Health Apps review
The free version of MapMyRUN is ad-supported, and those ads are definitely visible. In addition to the on-screen ads that are displayed on most pages, you'll also see full-screen splash ads when you switch between various parts of the site. You can dismiss most of the ads, but doing so gets tiring. And you'll see several reminders that Premium members see no ads.
Three levels of Premium membership are available: Bronze ($40 a year), which lets you print five maps per month and lets you create three training plans; Silver ($60 a year), which includes 10 printed maps and five training plans; and Gold ($90 a year), which has no limits on maps or training plans.
SHOULD I BUY MAPMYRUN+?
MapMyRUN's controls could use a bit of fine-tuning, but I found it a very useful tool for planning my workouts. The Web-based app syncs with the company's mobile apps, which allow you to use the GPS on your iOS or Android device to record your workouts as they happen. The mobile interface isn't as slick as that offered by the Nike+GPS app, but the desktop component is far superior: While the NikePlus.com service often feels like one big Nike ad, MapMyRUN.com manages to put you - and your workouts - front and centre.