I Can Run a Mile After All (and Now I Can Track My Runs, Too)!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
"I only run when chased."

That was my answer any time I was asked about running, otherwise known as torture disguised as exercise.

If I ran, it would be:
1. to catch a bus, plane or train
2. to outrun someone chasing me (This never happened, but I imagined myself screaming, arms flailing, heels breaking and purse flapping on my arm.)

Running made my lungs burn, my shins ache and my body feel like it was being shaken violently. Though I could get through an entire Spinning class or 45 minutes on the elliptical with no problem, I could only manage to run a block or two before giving up.

Still, all of my friends are runners, at least casually. I've greeted friends at the end of marathons, celebrated their success after 10Ks and helped them carbo load before big races. But I was always happy just supporting them.

Some time last year, I saved the article "You Can Run a Mile Without Stopping" as a SparkFavorite. "Maybe some day," I said. "Some day I'll be able to run a mile."

All winter long, I happily took Spinning classes, sweating and pedaling my way across unseen hilled terrain. After months of cold, dark days, an unexpected burst of sunshine one Sunday in February made me reconsider my deep-held aversion to running.

I decided to try running because I was feeling lazy and I don't like to drive. I live downtown, and I have to head to the suburbs, where the SparkPeople office is located, to go to the gym or visit most "good" stores. I wanted to hit the gym and go to the pharmacy, but I didn't want to get in the car on such a gorgeous day. So I decided I could walk to the pharmacy downtown instead, but that short walk wouldn't give me very much cardio. I was craving an intense cardio workout.

Feeling particularly ambitious, I decided to run to the pharmacy, then walk home with my purchase.

"Yes," I decided. "I'll run. I'm SURE I can run at least the half-mile to the pharmacy."

I set out, heart rate monitor on and iPod stocked with a new, upbeat playlist. I had some cash, a reusable bag in my jacket pocket, and my apartment key.

I was ready--but nervous and slightly dreading the impending workout.

"Slow and steady," I reminded myself as I headed out. The wind was lightly blowing, and with the sun shining on me, it was about 65 degrees. The sun felt great, and so did I. After two blocks, my lungs weren't burning, my legs weren't aching, and my mind wasn't giving up on me.

I kept going, past the pharmacy, past the next landmark I set for myself, and past a third landmark. I ran for 20 minutes straight--far more than the mile I'd thought I couldn't run!

I cooled down, walked to the pharmacy and then headed home. The sun was still shining, I was smiling, and I thought about whether the weather would hold out so I could run again soon!

Since then, I've run a few more times, usually for about two miles each time.
I like being outside and running through downtown neighborhoods near my apartment. You won't find me training for a marathon any time soon (or probably ever!), but I would like to run a 5K for fun this summer.

EXCITING NEWS! SparkPeople has just made it easier for me (and all of you) to track your runs and walks. We have just launched Fitness Maps! (NOTE: This works for any country in the world. I experimented with routes in Paris, Toronto, London, Sydney, Seoul and other world cities!)

This feature allows you to see how far you walk, run, or bike when exercising outdoors, then save your routes for the next time. This feature is very easy to use. Just:

1. Go to the Fitness Maps page (it is located under Healthy Lifestyle/Fitness, in the center of the page)
2. Enter the starting address
3. Click points on the map to draw your route; note that you can zoom the map in or out for more or less detail
4. Enter the amount of time it took you to complete your workout (to calculate your average speed)

We will then give you your total mileage, your average speed, and even the calories burned. You can then add your calories burned to your fitness tracker.

You can also:
  • Save your route to access it later
  • Share your route so other members can see
  • Use the city dropdown at the top of the page to see routes in your city
  • Delete or change part of your route (click on the red markers to delete a step in your route)

    We hope this feature makes it easier to calculate your distance and calories for routes, to remember your routes, and to find great new routes that other members have done!

    Are you a runner? Did you immediately like it, or did it take you awhile? And all you runners, walkers, hikers, and bikers: Are you going to try our new Fitness Maps feature?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
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I've been running since I was about 14 years, both indoors and out. Some days, I don't enjoy it-but most days I LOVE it. The exhilaration felt when you hit that "runners high" is incredible. Elusive, yes, but once you get it, you'll try for it again and again! Report
I started the training program on March 20th; so this time next month; I should be running a non-stop mile. Report
This is just the tool I needed to validate my miles when walking with our dog! Report
Sounds good. I'll need to think about it. I'm usually an treadmill runner. I like seeing how far I go. This just might be the thing I need to transition into out doors! Report
I am just starting a program for walking a 1/2 marathon. I want to run part of it, but I too am scared. I used to run when I was much younger, now at 58 years old and over weight I feel that running is out of the question. But I am going to try the program in the article "You can run a mile without stopping" The 1/2 marathon is June 27th in Seattle, so I have time to get this out of shape body moving. Wish me luck! Report
I would love to start running but I'm not sure how to get started besides "just doing it" any suggestions? Report
I run when I am totally stressed out, I like the way it makes me feel, all worn out and mellowed out. Fortunatly I don't stress very often. I prefer walking or biking but running is ok. I think I am going to love this new feature. Report
Seeing is believing. I've been using a site called www.mapmyfitness.com to track my routes and distances, but now I can just use Spark.

One more time Spark ups the ante! Report
I've done part of the Couch to 5K program and may try it again after I get some new running shoes. In the meantime I'm biking, and the fitness route calculator is great. Only one problem... If I calculate an easy pace, it calculates more calories burned than for a pace where I'm really pushing myself. Something isn't right. Report
Wow! I wish I had seen this earlier. This beats driving around the neighborhood, writing the mileages down.

I not an avid runner myself. It takes a lot of motivation to get me to run. When I played sports in high school, I dreaded the warm-up lap at the beginning of practice. Now, I'm training for my second marathon. I ran my first in October, 2006. Why, do you ask? There are about 5 other people from work, that are doing it with me. I found that if I have hace the same goal as other people I know. It makes running alot more motivating. We compare mileages and experiences during our training. We don't neccessarily get together and run, but we encourage one another throughout the whole process.
I started out slow, tracking my distance and time. As I felt better, it all improved.
Yes, I had a hard time running a mile, but with time and motivation, it is getting alittle bit easier. Report
Great tool! Wish we could save it under our favorites!! Report
Love this tool! I never know how far I go on my walks and this will really help me. Report
I dont consider myself a runner but oh how i love the way running makes me feel! It's one of the only things that makes me feel like i've put great effort into my workout. Report
Perfect tool!! Because of the buildings around my work location my gps usually can't find a satellite until I've already walked a bit which was quite frustrating. My friend and I walked at lunchtime the other day and it was so easy to figure out far we had gone when we input our route. Additional plus was that it also calculated the calories expended.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH! This has motivated me to make sure I take a lunch time walk on a daily basis. Report
Great mashup with the gmap-pedometer!
You have no idea how helpful this is! I plan to run my first 5k in June and have been dreading running a 5k outside (I am addicted to the treadmill). This is such a great motivator for me to get outside and enjoy the springtime weather. Thanks! Report
wow thank you so much for that link.. i've been using mapquest for awhile but i never knew the marker technique and i always did it in some other more complicated way and never was accurate.. anyways thanks a lot.. this is exactly what i've been looking for. I walk around the neighborhood all the time and always switch up the streets so now i can figure out exactly how far and how many calories no matter what streets i walk.. Thanks again! Report
This is a great tool. I can save it to favourites. Only thing is I have to keep going back to the map to find out how many calories. I just don't seem to be able to save the cals for a particular route. Report
The map feature looks like the google map pedometer, except this one appears to default to the town I'm living in (which makes it quicker to use). Cool feature - thanks for adding it!

About the blog post: I walk *a lot* - that's how I 'commute' to work. Earlier this year, while walking at the Y between basketball games that my kids were in, I remembered how much I used to love running (I was a distance runner, 5th grade through 12th) and I thought: maybe I should try running again. I set a goal of running a mile by my birthday in mid-May, and running a 5K in the fall. But happily, I found I could run much further than I expected and now I'm registered for a 5K at the end of May. This past week I ran almost 2 miles (as part of a 5K training class). I haven't felt this sense of accomplishment in a long time! Report
Fantastic! No more "walking blind" and guessing. And yes, it does work over here in Ireland! Report
i am having trouble saving my route.. It does not want to save and it reverts back to AKRON................maybe eventually i will figure it out/. Report
What a great idea, but I'm having trouble using this tool. Every time I try to create a new map, it defaults back to Akron. I tried clearing all maps, I tried doing it several different ways - it doesn't seem to work for me. I can see that others have saved routes, so I know it works for some. Anybody have any ideas? Thanks. Report
what an awesome new tool!! i love to go hiking and that has always been hard for me to track on here, my jogs as well - i know the minutes but not my pace! this should definitely encourage me to be better about tracking my fitness minutes.

i started jogging just two years ago, with a 0-to-5k program. i had always found running hard to enjoy before then, always felt so out of breath but tried it when pushed by someone else. but that time i decided to do it for myself and the most important thing i've learned about myself since then is that slow and steady is the best way to approach any new activity. i can now jog without stopping for an hour and it has taken me time to get there but i never knew i could do it before. now i know i can! :) Report
I'm a runner, but a very reluctant one. I started 2 years ago when I finally decided to get healthy. Sometimes I feel like I can run forever and then there are days when I can't go half a mile! I'd also like to run a 5k, for fun. That's been one of my goals for a long time now. The new Fitness Map feature looks interesting and I'll check it out soon! Report
I LOVE this tool! Report
Cool tool! I've never thought of running, either (same mind-set as you, Steph), until I started using the running program on the Wii Fit. Then I got to thinking, maybe running/jogging isn't so bad, I'd like to try it in the real outdoors. I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to attempt it yet, but I can see how a first warm spring day would entice someone to run (there's just a joy or energy in the air, it makes you want to at least try). Report
I am sending this to my friend who is also a sparkperson. She and I are 1.67 miles from each other, according to this map. Very smart motivating tool for us! Report
I am so glad the Fitness Map feature has been added to Sparkpeople. I have been using another website that provides the same information. Now I can enter my routes and have them added to my daily fitness tracker by the push of a button! Report
hahahahaha! Stepfanie, you're sooo FUNNY!! I can 'see' you screaming, with your arms flailing, heels breaking, purse flapping... HAHAHAHAH!! gr8 article and the map is AWESOME! I hope that I can (some day) at least... jog. Ah... (tears of laughter here...) Report
I just had a VERY similar experience! I've always hated running on the treadmill. I tried a walk-to-run 5k program and quit about 2/3 through because I just didn't enjoy it.

Recently, on a whim on a really nice day, I figured I'd go for a jog outside, which I don't think I've ever done. It was about 3 miles round trip that I'd planned to do, and I figured I would just walk if I needed to. I ended up jogging the entire time and totally surprised myself by ENJOYING it! Maybe I DO like running!

I did not know about the route tracker -- I'll have to check that out next time I get the urge to run. I still prefer my cardio classes at the gym, but sometimes it's good to have a change of pace! Report
Had to laugh because that is always my line "I only run if someone's chasing me!"

I have tried running various times and never quite "took" to it... but I still try! Maybe one of these days I won't feel like my heart is going to jump out of my chest and take a cab home!

And I LOOOOOOOOOVE the fitness route tracker! That is so freaking amazing!! Report
Yey...this is fantastic! I used to use mapmyrun.com to track my runs and walks. I am happy that now I can do everything from just this one site! Report
TOTALLY TOTALLY love this fitness map thing--I'm not a runner but am using these maps to plan out walks around our little community. Thanks Sparkpeople !!! Report
Wow! I probably could have written this exact same blog! I used to share the same philosophy about running. Running was punishment, and I would only do it if it were required to save my life. Then one day I decided I wanted to run, and I started doing the couch to 5k training program. I've had a few set backs, but so far I'm going great. I'm hoping to run a 5k in mid to late summer this year! Report
I love to run. It's one of the excercise I don't have to think about. Just keep putting one foot infront of the other. I can zone out and think about something else. It feels great. It takes me about 10 min. to run a mile. I brake up my run. I run for about 20 min., stop strech and repeat 2 more times. I love running. Report
Way to go SparkPeople.com...Fitness maps. Now I have another thing to add to my ToDo (or ToTry) list. Report
I never thought I could run either until I got my WII Fit! I'm totally amazed. I now have to get out on the real streets to see some real scenery! I am more amazed at the Fitness Maps that I can create with SparkPeople. WOW! Thank you again,
Thank you for this blog! I would like to be able to run one day. I can make it 25 minutes on my exercise bike, but I have trouble walking at a brisk pace more than a couple of blocks! It is encouraging to know that if I keep it up on the bike, I might be able to run one day, too! Great blog! Report
I use to run but I have had both of my knees replaced and I am just now able to ride the stationary bike, I am hoping to get on my "real" bike in a month and really ride two miles!!! I am walking on the treadmill, I'm up to 2.5 miles per hour, but I don't think I'll be running anytime soon. Report
Really enjoyed your blog. I have always had similar thoughts about running...as in why in the world would I want to do that kind of thoughts. I can see the draw of it especially on sunny, cool days like today in Cincy. But, think I'll keep it as an occasional thing for short spurts & stick with the elliptical and other indoor styles of 'running'. Biggest reason is probably because I really believe I'd likely trip over my own feet and fall on every true run, and I'm just getting too old to want to go around with skinned up knees all the time. Report
Great article!! I know so many people who say they "can't "run. Well, here's a prime example of that NOT being the case!

I have always run, since high school, but only a few miles (generally 3) at a time. It wasn't until last Summer that I decided enough was enough, and I upped my mileage. First to 6, then on and on till winter. I just started back running in February, and have my first 1/2 marathon in May, and Marathon (yikes!!) in October. The support I get from Spark has definitely given me the motivation and encouragement I need to continually up my mileage, and even my speed. Talking to avid runners on a regular basis, comparing stories, etc. is the BEST thing that I can't get at home. I seem to be the only runner I know, and it's hard to be the motivator all the time. I thank Spark for giving me the courage and the determination to see what I can do. And ya know what? I seem to be able to do a LOT! WOO HOO!!!! Report
I would like to try running, but am waiting to have the extra skin removed from my belly and legs before I try. It hurts too much to run right now, with all that extra skin dragging me down. Report
What a great new tool! I just started running (working my way to up to a mile this week); I never thought I could do it either, but I'm bound and determined to run a 5K this year, not to win, but just to finish! Thanks for the encouragement. Report
I have always wanted to run but feel like my body is never cooperating so I report to walking. I can run on my treadmill and have an program that I follow that begins with 1 running and the 2 minutes walking for 30 minutes. I do great with this although I've never gotten to week two that increases the time for running. I find, though, that when I try to run in the neighborhood I feel drained immedicately and I can't go for very long. I'm not sure if it easier on the treadmill because the it is automatically moving and so there isn't the opportunity to stop easily. Not sure if anyone ewlse has experienced this.

Love the Fitness maps - can't wait use it even for my walking. Report
Oh boy!!!! This is the best news I've heard in ages!!! I was using MapMyWalk.com to map out my mileage but they recently started REALLY encouraging people to pay subscription.
I don't know if I will ever run, other than across a busy street, but this does give one hope
Thanks Sparks for always being on top of what we need. Report
I like that feature! I've already put in 3 routes and will be using it a lot! Thanks! Report
I had just about the same experience! I thought I'd get winded after 1/4 mile, but my first run I pushed and did a whole mile! I was hooked ever since and am now running 10k fairly comfortably and considering a half marathon by the end of the year. Report
Congrats! Any running can be intimidating. Good job on making the leap!

Does anyone know how to publish the route on your page? I think that would be awesome! Report
Just when I thought SP couldn't get any "cool-er" you did, awesome! Thanks SP! Report
I am so excited about this new feature. I have been using mapmyrun.com but I am so excited to have something that dovetails into sparkpeople! I will use it for sure! Report
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