Technology and Planning tips

Figured I would just start a thread to share ideas around route planning for your heatmapping.

Watch/GPS: Fenix 6 Pro - I upgraded this last year and its been massively helpful, pretty much all tied to having maps built into it. It will show your breadcrumb trail on top of the maps and you can pretty easily zoom in and out. My previous watch had just a breadcrumb trail which was helpful to see in various circumstances where you had to double back or had a lot of nearby intersections.

My planning
I will build a route a lot of times and export the GPX file and import it into Garmin Connect and send it to my watch. My Garmin will then give me turn by turn directions while displaying how far until my next turn. Honestly I only really send it to my watch if its a more complicated route. It works pretty well if you stay on course. It also will give you an ETA of your finish time. However if you get off course and somehow crossover your route for later in the run then it becomes useless as it jumps forward. I don’t know about you but part of the fun for me is that planning does go wrong a lot of the time. This means I found something fun to explore like a trail system, cemetery or some connector paths. Everyone is different but I don’t consider an area complete unless I have mapped all the trails and cemeteries too (the most fun part).

Personally I usually build my routes in Strava. There are a lot of sites to build routes and Stravas isn’t particularly good but I use it as a backup to run on my phone so I can see a breadcrumb of where I’ve been and whats left overlaid on the route. Its basically just a backup to my watch for when I go off course or want a quicker macro view. When building my routes I’m often toggling between Google Maps, City Strides (Node hunter) and the Strava route builder to try to figure out whats runnable and if there are places I can potentially cut through to avoid long out and backs as well as making sure I hit all the nodes. Plenty of times I have thought I finished an area to go back and see something that effectively looks like a driveway was considered a road…

How do you plan your mapping adventures? I read about some people just using pen and paper which seems like a much bigger hassle but to each their own!


I create my routes within Garmin Connect. If I’m on my computer, I have one tab open to City Strides and the other to Garmin Connect. Then I swap back and forth until I’ve gone far enough, then Loop Back to Start to finish the route. If the end result isn’t long enough, then I undo one step and add another intermediate point.

If I’m at work (which blocks City Strides), then CS is on my phone.

Once I’m happy with the route, I save it (named the day I’m planning on running). Then I go to my phone and transfer the route to my watch (not a Fenix but good enough).


Have a widescreen monitor with two open windows.

CityStrides with node hunter and google maps streetview in other tab in first window. for the routeplanning in other window.

I only have Garmin Forerunner 935 so i export gpx and use an app on phone called GPX viewer.

When i run i use GPX viewer and have CityStrides with node hunter open in background.


Have always used a combination of CityStrides and On the Go Map, and recently started using SportsTracker, an app @christophe.cr92 mentioned in this thread about tracking runs live.

I previously enjoyed printing out the map and running with it, or actually writing out the directions and turns and then trying to figure out what I meant on the run! :laughing: makes for mentally engaging work, but sucks when I can’t figure it out myself!

@dallas.devries, wanted to point out that there are some other very similar threads, including:


Hi Dave, I don’t think these are similar at all to the route solving problem which is pretty cool idea in its own right. This was just a basic planning & tech sharing thread to get a discussion started that wasn’t around activity syncing issues :slight_smile: I’m curious to what apps, mapping tools, tech and approach people take when they plan as well what they do during their runs. Before using City Strides I did all my planning by looking at the Strava heatmap and everything was a bit less precise. Looks like we already have a big list of map sites and apps that might make for a good wiki page if there isnt one.

I also created a local heat mapping group on Facebook where as a group of local runners we share tips about mapping in general. We also ask each other questions about certain areas we are about to run as between the 20 of us we have hit pretty much every road in the area now. Good place to share pictures of local unique things we find as we go too.


Fair enough, there is an important difference there!

How many turns can your watch handle? I’ve only tried loading .gpx files once or twice with limited luck. I think there’s actually a hard limit to what mine can handle.

Either way I actually love the fun of following along with a map as I go and trying to route find/ keep track as I go. I’m currently in the middle of planning a (very) long run for this weekend, and have gone all out on the planning. For this one because I plan on doing 100+ streets I’m mapping out each loop independently, with directions and will take a page on each lap.

Here’s a sample of what I’m putting together:

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@davemorin are you printing these out and carrying them with you? I’ve been thinking of having a paper map as well and just marking segments as I run them, but I couldn’t figure out a convenient way to carry it. Strap it to your arm? Notepad? Folded and tucked in a pocket? :thinking: Is there a reason you are doing loops for your long run? It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it looks like some of these areas are contiguous and it would be possible to just do one big loop.

My process is a bit less meticulous. I chart out a route on to get something that has the right distance and memorize it. If I get lost I check my lifemap on the phone. I tend to work my way through areas methodically, so I get pretty familiar with the layout by the second or third run in an area. The hardest part is efficiently traversing residential grids (this is where I would use a paper map).

You bet! I typically fold an 8x11 page into four, and rotate / flip as needed once per run. I’ve carried it a few different ways:

  • Simply in hand
  • On the arm in a phone case
  • Tucked into waist band
  • In a front pocket of an ultra pack

I’m doing loops because I’m participating in the Quarantine Backyard, a DIY race of the Backyard variety. If you’re unfamiliar with this style of race the rules are:

  • Each hour you must complete 6.71km
  • If you finish before the hour is up you can use the remaining time in the hour however you see fit: eat, drink, use the washroom, stretch, sleep
  • At the beginning of the next hour you must start another loop
  • You keep going until you 1) don’t finish the lap within the hour 2) decide not to return for the next lap, or 3) are the last remaining runner on the course

This event presented the opportunity to have a ton of fun mapping, cover a TON of streets in an area of the city I’ve barely run in before, participate in probably the only race that’s being offered at the moment, and get outside for some good hours.


I have run with a small printed screenshot where I’ve highlighted the streets I haven’t hit - put that in a sandwich bag so it survives my sweat, and go.

More often than not, though, I map out a route on gmap-ped and…look at it. Then I just go run it.

Although I never thought about making a route and sending it to my fenix. Great idea!

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Very interesting read. I’m just getting into CS, and on my runs, think about this topic, and more efficient planning. As I start to run out of streets that I can run too, I’ll start to bike to them. My town, Keller, is small enough that I can do that.

However, at some point, I’ll have drive to my runs, something I never thought I would do. When that happens, I want to be more efficent.

Thank you @dallas.devries for this thread, and others for all the ideas. Had no idea there were so many tools out there.

Cheers, Eric

I should also mention that I wear Salomon Advanced Skin hydro vest. (this is Ginger runner review in 2013, its advanced since then)

This is useful for heatmapping because its a fantastic way to carry your phone and make it very easily accessible without it being uncomfortable to run with. I wear the vest even when I don’t need water because its useful for carrying my key, phone, nutrition and I find it much more comfortable than flipbelts, spibelts and other things around your waist. Plus when you do need water it has a lot of options and is very light weight. Anyways this was a game changer for me when I run, especially in the summer when I could ditch my handheld bottle or get in a 20 miler without stopping for water.

Personally I’m doing 8-13 mile routes most days so having an app like Strava that shows my progress on a route that I can quickly pull out and see on my phone is the most efficient and is most flexible for when I go off planned course (probably half the time). Trying to print it out on paper every day for me would be a larger hassle. Sounds like SportsTracker might be similar? Does it overlay your breadcrumb on top of a route? I dont know if Routes on Strava is premium or included. Depending on your route it can be mentally exhausting so its nice to have the crutch to just visually see where you are, where you have been and what you have left quickly.

I also try to plan my routes with some flexibility in case I want to go longer or if I need to shorten it because I found some trail or new development not listed on the map yet.

@davemorin good luck with your quarantine race, sounds pretty fascinating!

@ericjrw I’m to the point where I pretty much have to drive to anything to get new roads in. I’m actually thinking a step ahead of that…in 3-6 months I might have to drive 20+ min to get to new streets…at some point its going to start getting prohibitive but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there but its definitely a reason to get more efficient and have better planning because you don’t want to have to go back to an area to just grab one or two roads you missed!

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Yes- it does overlay the breadcrumb as you go.

I’m a long ways from being at a point where I need to think about that much detail- I figure I have years ahead of me in the city I live. I remember reading on here somewhere that a Strider would actually move when he finished most streets just to be in a new location. Best of luck!

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I have my phone with map in my hand the entire trip. I have so far only tripped and smashed phone one time :grimacing:

I only citystrides in the weekend/holidays and around12 km.
All my runs are now 10 km from home, so i have to drive there. I’d prefer not to, but there’s not really any way around it if i want to citystride.
As it’s my only hobby i will continue to do so, but please don’t tell Greta Thunberg :grin:

If you need some inspiration, check out one of my favorite striders


@hjkiddk WOW! For Aaron! Crazy coverage! Thanks

Nice one @aaron_fitzsenry , running a whole state/county? I am thinking to run the south part of the Dutch province of Limburg.

For planning, i open the lifemap, check the area i want to run with nodehunter mode and klick bezerk in strava routeplanner. I love the prep part as much as the running.

Then i run with my mobile in my hand (doing this ofr 3 years now, and don’t know any different anymore)

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Although I have just recently started looking for streets to complete, I have been a big fan of RunGo app for over a year. I use it to create routes for our Pub Runs and it provides turn by turn directions (via voice if running with your phone). Some of our runners also download the gpx file to their watches as have I for longer runs and it works great. I create the routes on my computer and can add “comments” which also are spoken. Had lots of fun with that when I had our Halloween Pub Run go through a large cemetery.

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Dave, I also use to map out my runs. However, I was having issues with my maps getting wet and falling apart either by rain or from sweat on the really hot days in summer. Now I use a plastic sleeve, that you would use in a binder, and slip two maps back to back in the sleeve. It allows the map the survive the entire run and it easily rolls up to carry in-hand. I can use the plastic sleeves many times before I retire them.

Happy Striding


I’ve been using a zip-lock baggie, snack size. Does that count as technology?
Trim my map down, and fold in half, stuff in baggie.
One map is good for a couple of runs, and becomes a paper journal.

I like reading the ideas of others, as I hope to get more efficient.

Cheers, Eric

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definately like the zip lock idea. That would keep the water out. :smiley:

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