Web sites help you plan your next run

LOS ANGELES "My typical run would be anywhere between 4 and 6 miles. I run between three and five times a week, just depending on what my schedule is," said Susan Pirkey, an avid runner.

Even when Pirkey can find the time to lace up, uncovering great new routes can be a challenge, especially when she's out of town.

"Sometimes you can really get lost in a neighborhood if it has a lot of turns," said Pirkey.

Dave McGillivray is the race director for the Boston Marathon. McGillivray says online course planning tools are the hottest thing in the industry for race designers. And these days, the sites are just as helpful to individual runners as they are to the pros.

"It's easy. You're able to sort of look at the map and see the highlights of that particular city or town and maybe map out a course that goes by all those respective highlights," said McGillivray.

Just enter a zip code or a city into an online running Web site like MapMyRun.com, Google's Gmaps Pedometer, or Sanoodi, and it will display a map of an entire area for you. From there you can navigate to pinpoint your location and start planning your route before you ever set out the door.

"I think that technology today is really revolutionizing the industry," said McGillivray.

Some sites calculate the distance of your run, while others allow you to check elevation. It is like having the inside track from another runner.

"If you're somewhat familiar with the area, you can map out and see where the streets lead. If you're unfamiliar with it you can just look at the area and determine where you want to go," said Pirkey.

Some may wonder why runners don't just do it the old-fashioned way and ask someone for suggestions.

"Runners are anxious. They want to pre-prepare before they get to a particular city or town," said McGillivray.

"If you can plan ahead and know what route that you are running, it can make it a lot less stressful," said Pirkey.

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