How to Choose a Running Route

The routes that you choose to run on, whether it is for road running or trail running, are going to directly affect your run.

If you enjoy your running routes, you will be motivated to train harder, you will have a good handle on how much of the route you have left to cover, you can monitor your progress better, and you will obviously not get lost – which is actually common.

How to Choose a Running Route

As you are going to be spending a lot of time on these routes it is important to consider these various factors…


The first factor that you need to take into account is safety. The last thing you want is a route that is going to give you a harrowing experience. Be sure to find out as much information about your route in advance. Speak to people from the area or those who are familiar with that route and find out about potential danger zones.

On a side note; use running shorts or a jacket (like the inov-8 Raceshell 220) which have a pocket for a cellphone, asthma pump (if you are asthmatic), and even pepper spray… better safe than sorry.

If you are running at night or very early in the morning, ensure that the area is properly lit and it should not be deserted, for obvious reasons.

On a trail route, find out about what sort of wildlife you could encounter, as most runners would not be too thrilled about running into dangerous snakes, etc.


Take cognizance of traffic patterns and congestion. If you have to run through a path that has a lot of traffic lights, for example, chances are you are going to have to pause a lot. You want to be able to run without having to stop unnecessarily.

Unnecessary stopping is going to hinder your progress and endurance because of the unplanned breaks. From a safety factor, you also reduce the risk of being knocked by a motorist. Also avoid routes with excessive cyclists, skate boarders, roller-bladers, etc. You want to run freely without having to worry about fighting for the same space as them.


You want to have a backdrop of pleasant scenery to run through. It will motivate you to train harder and it will make your running experience a lot more pleasant.

While trail running will give you a greater advantage here, but you can also find road routes that have beautiful scenery. The fresh air is great for you and it prompts a very tranquil environment. With urban routes, look for tree-lined streets, interesting buildings, monuments or statues.


The terrain has to obviously suit your running capabilities and training purpose. If you are a beginner, you will likely crash and burn if there is a lot of inclines and declines. This could also be discouraging and you could quickly diminish your confidence. Rather start off with flatter routes.

Conversely, if you are an intermediate and more experienced runner, you are going to want a challenge so that your workouts are maximized. Your running route should have a good mix of flats, downhills, inclines, gentle slopes, etc. This is undoubtedly going to give rise to a better runner.


The distance of a route is critical to the progress of each runner. As logic would dictate, distance of a route chosen will be based on your capability. As you progress, you can opt for longer routes.

Adding on length gradually will increase your endurance for distance running and you can also set goals for completing certain distances. The longest distance doesn’t necessarily mean the best distance as it has to be task specific.

Use an App

Apps are useful in helping you monitor progress, plan training and for mapping your routes. Three great apps are iMapMyRun, Run Keeper Pro and Ghost Race.


iMapMyRun is great free GPS-based route tracker and activity log. It enables you to save your data to the Apps website and you can share your progress on social media.

Run Keeper Pro is one of the most well know running App’s. It offers GPS tracking, distance, speed monitoring, caloric output and activity history. You can also sync all the data to Run Keeper’s website and share it on social media. There is also a free simpler version.

Ghost Race is a cool App which enables you to track your route and times on that route. Best of all is that it has an audio function which keeps you updated on your progress against your previous times as you’re running – so you’re running against your “ghost” self.


If you did not know before, you would have realized after reading this article that choosing a running route is not clear cut and should be given a lot of consideration. Follow these guidelines and you will find your ideal running route.


What do you look for in a running route? Describe your dream running route.

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