Fitness on the Map Austin Fit & Tony Mook May 9, 2008

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Many things can color ones perspective during a run a foul mood, fine weather or the passionate desire to shed five pounds before a big event. The mind tends to play tricks, however, which means that whether revisiting a favorite route or setting out on a new one, it can be hard to tell how many miles have been logged or how many steep, calorie-burning hills there really were. So, here are a few Web sites that can add some intelligence to your training.

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gmap-pedometer.com

Specifically geared for beginning runners or walkers whod rather not bother with unwieldy pedometers or hard-core GPS systems, this site takes advantage of the maps that have been carefully compiled by the Google geeks who do so much for us these days. With groups, forums, calorie counters and the ability to save routes, its easy to create a catalogue of favorite courses anywhere in the world with just a few quick visits. All Google Maps search techniques and tools (grabbing the map and scrolling, hybrid views and zooming) are valid here as well, so anyone accustomed to scoping out road trips will feel right at home as they begin to plan their next outdoor workout session.

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mapmyrun.com

Control-freaks and truth seekers need not jog and sweat in the dark any longer. With mapmyrun.com, web surfers can type the addresses of their beginning and end points and get the skinny on the terrain theyre about to traverse or calculate the mileage theyve just unknowingly logged. With elevation maps, calorie calculators, GPS device compatibility and more, its possible to plan, plot and evaluate routes in Austin, Anchorage or even Ankara. Be warned that the Web site can be addictive, however; picking out a path using satellite and 3-D views or imagining a run through the streets of Paris can cause procrastination and defeat the purpose of lacing up those running shoes in the first place.

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walkjogrun.net

In addition to offering the means to easily plan your next run, this site does a great job of focusing on the running community as well. For example, anyone who feels that theyve created an especially fulfilling route can upload it to a shared database so that people in the neighborhood can enjoy the jog as well. This tool is especially handy when visiting an unfamiliar place and getting lost in a strange land doesnt fit the schedule. Simply log on to join an energetic network of global runners, and let the common pulse of health and fitness guide you. The site sells WalkJogRun gear, too (including T-shirts and coffee mugs), so spotting virtual running partners while out and about is always a possibility.

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