CityStrides Strategy

Just wondering what strategy (or strategies) you all employ when running your streets. I know there is always in inevitable amount of overlap on dead ends but I’d love to hear how you all approach your cities.

Do you work from the outside in?
For hashmap streets, do you run the verticals and then horizontals?
Do you plug you maps into a watch or run from a checklist?

Love to hear your thoughts…


I’m not a fan of too much planning, i usually just run with my phone and do a livetrace of the area i wanna run.
I use this app:

If i decide to plan a route i can still import it to the app and livetrace, with another color, on top of it.

Sadly not many hashmap streets in Denmark, but plenty of dead end overlaps :slightly_smiling_face:


Started off the first city with a scribbled list of streets and a rough idea of the direction I wanted to go in, no phone, basic gps watch. Now I just kind of go someplace new and wander until it feels like it’s time to turn back. Once I get close to finishing an area, I go with phone in hand and node hunter to track down loose ends.

I’ll sometimes try to set out with a planned run, almost always end up wandering off after anything that looks interesting.


After a few cities done, i started to use strava route planning and looking at my mobile during runs, i got used to it very soon.
Then routeplanning became a paid tool in strava, so I switched to a garmin fenix watch combined with the app rungo. Rungo is da bomb, and routing on the fenix is very significant.

Since CS routeplanning exists, i use that to plan, and export the gpx to rungo and gamrin.

I always start a city somewhere connected to the already run streets, and work my way from around to the centre. The symbolic last run is then in citycenter with marketplace and chruch and all.


I just open my LifeMap in my phone, and activate Nodehunter, and keep an eye on that while running to see that I cover all streets.


I do something similar although I’m more calculated. As I’m working through a town, I look for parks or schools that I can “home base” from. Depending on how complicated the surrounding neighborhood is, I’ll split up the attack into a number of runs from that location.

I also use the Strava route planning feature to plan my runs. Since I don’t run with a phone, I have an Excel macro that cleans up the directions from Strava -or- I import the run as a course into my Garmin.

I’ve found the printed directions to be much more accurate (surprisingly) as I’ve already missed a couple turns due to wonky GPS.

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I live in a suburb which means I have to be a bit methodical about my routes. Neighborhoods only have a few entrances and running blindly through one and missing a street has the potential to be annoying to clean up later. I’ve mostly limited myself to starting from schools and parks, which means part of the battle is just getting to a nearby neighborhood. I usually try and do a whole neighborhood at once but it can depend based on how big they are and how many evil cul-de-sacs add distance.

For my routes themselves, if possible I try to hit the furthest point away from my starting location first, so if I feel bad or something and have to cut the route I’ll at least have closer streets remaining for when I return. I’m more likely to add something to the route than cut it though. I don’t run with my phone or upload my routes to my watch, so I do my best to memorize the route before I head out.


I live about 3 miles from my closest untraversed street now, so I definitely need to plan for efficiency. I will typically target the closest collection of streets I can get to, and then use onthegomap to determine the shortest path that will capture as many streets as possible. If the path is too complicated to memorize, I’ll print a map. (I’ve found this much easier than fumbling with my phone.)

I never drive somewhere just to run, but I’ll sometimes hitch a ride with my wife if she is headed somewhere that I need to capture streets.


I walked the whole of my city this year. Initially I was a bit random just working out in my head where I thought I needed to go but then I went very old school, screen printed the area I was interested in from my life map, put that into a Word document, printed it and then took a highlighter pen and marked the routes I needed to do. I got better at it when I discovered the node hunter as some of the streets involved car parks or small turning ‘stubs’ and I could spend a fair bit of time double checking I’d marked the map correctly and then using the node hunter when I was out. I literally marked all the roads off with a pen as I completed them and also used the map to keep me oriented as there was a lot of doubling back and changing directions in some areas. I spent a lot of time planning routes and prepping my maps but that was part of the fun for me.

As for the hashmap streets I think I did them all differently but I think they would normally be a smaller area than I might have encountered in an American city.


I use this site to get a map of all the nodes I have to finish, then I take pictures of segments of the city I want done with my phone. After this, I use Strava’s global heatmap to find neighborhood shortcuts/park paths that I can use to cut down on the length of my runs. Finally, I draw routes on the phone pictures to plan my routes.


After some trial and error I divided my city into three concentric circles. The innermost I can run from home, the middle section is what I can reach with a short car/cycle ride, the third section is what’s left (by far the biggest chunk). I use my long runs to do the last section, I generally do “wedges” from the outside in, following the subway lines for access.

I plan all my runs in CityStrides with the route builder and node hunter because I’m terrible at estimating distances :sweat_smile:. I export the routes to my watch, not having to constantly look at my phone was a game changer for me.


@29b821f2cae820996c99 check out the node hunter, it shows you all the nodes in CS :slightly_smiling_face:


I did a run a couple months ago that I captured 27 cul-de-sacs. I’m thankful I never have to run that part of the town again! :smiley:


Mostly doing cities in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area there’s a lot of grid or hash map structure to the places I’m running. Even the cities that aren’t a regular grid often have a grid like topology that has just been stretched out or had curves added to it. But once you recognise that it’s easier to work with.

I will often do the borders first, but the biggest criteria is really just fitting it into my life, so try to I do runs that are on the way to/from another errand first if not going from home. I have nearly finished out the “everyday” length runs (for me, that’s up to 12 miles) that hit new streets. Trying to minimize the amount of driving to the start of runs I do for this project, and if I do drive just for a run it will almost always be a long run (20+ miles).

In terms of navigation, I screenshot relevant parts of the CS map and print it out, double-sided if needs be to get legible resolution. If it’s a long run I put the map in a Loksak 12" x 12" bag to keep it dry. Orienteering map bags can also work well. In the winter if snow or sweat is not likely to be an issue I’ll just fold the map up in a smaller ziplock bag, and hold the paper map in my glove when I’m navigating around areas I need the map for 1-4 miles. I tried the phone thing, and it drains my battery quickly, and paper is just easier. So I do recommend giving paper a try, and the Loksak bags are worth the price.


I usually try and target a bounded area depending on how far want to run that day and try and do everything in it. I very often end up running a lot longer than think. If am “keen” and especially if it is a more rural area I may well plot the route on Garmin Connect and upload it to my watch so I don’t need to keep pulling out my phone. If I don’t plan I sometimes just have a loop in my head and then dart up any dead ends as I come to them. Then will check the node hunter on my phone and also the breadcrumb trail over “real” maps on my Forerunner 945. If I am wanting to do more of a “proper” run might just target a few streets not yet done that might otherwise need a special trip.

Ideally I won’t will go up a dead end as come to it. Another trick I do is not say take the first left but the second left if there is some loop so I can basically keep going without having to do a U turn. If it is a “grid” of streets (I know very common in USA, much less here in the UK) then I might go round the “edge” first and comeback and then fill any streets in the middle. Sometimes roads can be a total maze as just have to repeat bits as no other way.

If I go up a dead end that then has two short dead ends at the end, I tend to go left first and then right.

I always “colour” the whole map so don’t say just collect nodes either end of a short street as kind of feel that is “cheating” and the white on the map “haunts” me !

Usually if I am not sure if a section has nodes (say a service road to a car park) I will run it anyway rather stopping to pull my phone out to check.

Tonight I had to spend a lot of time on OSM making corrections. Some gated private roads to correct as not possible to run (I don’t now try and get past a locked gate as been locked in a few times!), 3 roads to delete as they just did not exist and a few ends to shorten as turned out to driveways and/or a section at end was behind a gate and the gate needed adding and the bit behind making private.


I can say without doubt that if I were to start again I would do some things differently. From the start I told myself that I should never pass a cul-de-sac, since that will always mean duplicated effort. Essentially I started from the centre and worked out, and this was definitely a mistake in retrospect. I am now at 98.5%, but while I have before managed 5% in a single day, that last 1.5% will take a few goes, because the remaining streets are scattered over quite some distance.


I live in a rural farming area in Minnesota. I work for myself and have to drive to clients houses. So if I am near an area I plan a run in a new spot. But near my house I have ran ever street close to me and working on Township roads. I have to drive to get to anything now. So it takes lots of planning and route building. Stuff I am working on might be 1 to 2 mile before the next street to turn so I try to not repeat those line. I like to think of areas as grids (probably since I grew up in Minneapolis) so I start in 1 corner and work my way down. If I am doing more of city with a ton of dead ends and turns I will build a route and download it to my garmin and do navigation. This saves me from stopping a ton…since I am a streak runner I need a mile without stopping. My only issue now is its been to cold to have my watch uncovered. But the node hunter and navigation on my watch has been game changer.

I don’t know if this would work with the many layers required to run in Minnesota, I just wear my watch over my jacket when it’s cold out :smile:

Haha nope doesn’t fit over my really thick jacket I did try it thr other day.

I think taking almost every 90 degree turn on a city block is the best way to reduce rerunning streets. It was pretty easy to make this route in garmin and follow it on my watch.