Inexpensive Ways to Track The Distance Of Outdoor Workouts

inexpensive ways to track the distance of outdoor workouts

I recently received the following question from a reader

I was just wondering if you can recommend an
inexpensive yet efficient pedometer? I just found a park close to
where we just moved and it actually has a track I just walked for the
first time and I have no idea how far I walked. I’m really new at
walking outdoors and not on a treadmill so I realize I need a way to
track my progress.

I have tried using several different models  of pedometers on runs where I knew the distance and never could get them set to give accurate distant read outs.

Here are a few inexpensive ways to track the distance of outdoor workouts with accuracy


I really like for mapping out my long runs for marathons. Create an account using either your facebook or your email as a log in. Then hit the “create map” button found at the top of your home page.  Enter the town in which you are running, and the system will load up a map.  Use the “map tools box” to help you create a route. For instance if you are going on a trail  make sure the “follow roads” is not enabled so you move the route where you want too.

2. Vehicle Odometers

Before I knew that  I use to take my car out to map out my runs. I would drive to where I wanted to start running and then clear my car’s odometer and then follow the route I planned to take. It works but the only draw back is if you follow city trails for portions of your runs.

3. Trail Markers

Some public trails have distant markers of some sort either along the trail or on a map posted at the beginning and end of the trial.

The draw backs are often these trails are short and straight and therefore can get boring very quickly.

4.  Sports Watch

If you hold a consistent pace, you can judge how far you run by using a simple sport watch that you can purchase for $30 and up (I personally love the Timex Ironman watches)

Simply find your comfortable pace on a tread mill and work out what the minute per mile pace is for instance if you run at 6.0 on a treadmill that means you run a 10 minute mile. If your training schedule wants you to run 4 miles, then set your watch to beep at 40 minutes. (if you have a i-touch or smart phone get the  LogMyRun pacer app. to help you work out pace: it’s free)

Things such as hills and stop signs might slow you down a little but you shouldn’t be off by too much.

5. Smart Phone Apps.

I don’t have a smart phone, but I have heard that there are a tonne of great free and low priced apps. out there for tracking your distance and speed. I once ran with a friend who had one and her app. readouts were only slightly different than my GPS watch read outs.  Smart phone users if you know of a great app. for keeping track of distance please share in the comments.

6. GPS enabled watches

Garmin has a GPS watch available for $129 retail.  I saw a New Balance one at Target last week for  $79 on sale. Not exactly inexpensive but if you are serious about your walks or runs, or even bike rides, you could put it on your Christmas or Birthday list. I know one friend who just recently got one as a combined present from all her loved ones. You could also use Swagbucks and Bing Rewards to collect Amazon gift cards to bring the cost down.

I hope these suggestions help. I would love to hear what methods you have use to keep track of the distance of your outdoor workouts and which ones you have found to be most effective.


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  1. Victoria, this information is so helpful and so timely for me as a beginning walker/jogger. After reading all of your recommendations and not being very updated in my technology I believe I will be using the tip on asking for the GPS device for my birthday in September ;) Until then, I like the idea of estimating based upon how far/fast I go on the treadmill. Thanks!

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