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London on foot

January 1, 2011

Running is a really good way to get to know a new town – especially somewhere like London. It can be easy to avoid piecing together different parts of the city by just getting to know the tube network. However, finding new runs in London (or at least runs that don’t just follow main roads) can be a challenge.

So, I was particularly pleased to receive 30 Great Runs in London for Christmas. It’s a book that does pretty much what it says on the cover, giving maps and guidance for different runs in the capital, taking in parks, pathways, canals and the Thames and helping avoid the worst of the traffic. While the runs are scattered around zones 1–3 (i.e. central, but quite well spread out), I’m planning to take in a good few of them as part of this year’s marathon training.

A multi segment panoramic image of the London ...
Running London is a great way to see the iconic sights, and join up the abstract names of Tube stops. Image via Wikipedia

While many of the runs follow some easy-to-navigate routes (following paths, canals, etc.), few manage to completely avoid fiddly bits where it’s easy to get lost. The maps and step-by-step directions make navigation easier, but you’re not likely to have the book (or a copy of the map) with you on a run. Which, as I was running the wrong way up Muswell Hill Road, got me thinking…

Given that a large number of runners take iPhones, and other such GPS-enabled gadgetry, on their runs, has anyone produced a sat nav for runners? My Garmin, for example, has a route function (although I’ve yet to work out how to use it), which presumably tells the runner which direction to take via a series of beeps and an arrow on the watch’s display. All with the fatal flaw of not having a map.

Personally I would assume that an app that tapped into a GPS signal and gave the runner audio instructions (‘Take the next left’, ‘Follow the road’, etc.) and had images (perhaps taken from Google Streetview to save anyone needing to take photos of the routes themselves) as a visual cue should the user need them would be a pretty useful tool. Especially if it tapped into something like mapmyrun so users could upload and download their own and others’ routes, thus keeping the content fresh and building something of a community.

I’d be interested to know if there is anything like this available. Personally, I don’t run with headphones or that much kit, but something like that might make me change my mind.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. cmmercer permalink
    January 1, 2011 7:25 pm

    What a brilliant idea, I love your concept for a GPS enabled app that we could use to map runs, and have maps supplied to us from others!!

  2. shunningrunning permalink
    January 1, 2011 10:52 pm

    Well done! You’re the first random Janathoner I’ve clicked on who’s posted today! Keep up the good work!

  3. January 3, 2011 12:18 pm

    Happy New Year Lewis.

    Great idea!

    Good luck with the training.

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