When I started working out seriously a few years ago, I wanted to track how far I ran and what my speeds were. There are a lot of products on the market right now that will help you out to do this, but they all require you to purchase a gizmo, either a GPS unit, a footpod, or Nike+. I just wanted to keep things simple and I did, using Google.
Basically, what I did was to track my running distance via Google Maps. Sounds easy enough, right? The only thing that was left was for me to time my runs or bike rides. A simple stopwatch does the trick nicely. There are some people saying that "Google Miles" aren't as accurate as "real" miles, but hey, it's cheap, pretty easy, and covers a few different sports, making it a cinch to track your progress.
When things get more serious though, when you start running or biking 5-10 times a week, we recommend purchasing a GPS tracker. The great thing about those is that it frees you from sticking to your established route. This can be good or bad, depending on you workout.
What You Need
1. When I first started running, I ran loops. The main reason was that I could easily find out how much I ran and how fast. Also, it gave me the option of stopping earlier, or doing more laps if I wanted to. This is especially useful in the beginning when you first start to run or train.
It also stops you from always wondering where to go next. On my bike rides, I stick to a 16-mile loop that I do between 2 to 5 times to get the mileage I need. It just leaves me pedaling. I use the same technique for running. I know exactly how far I have to go in order to complete a set distance.
So, first you need to decide on how long you want to run or ride. You should factor in the distance from your doorstep, around your set path, and back again to your door. This is what I do. I reserve the last part of my route for a fast-paced run or ride, giving it my all in order to maximize the effort.
You'll end up with a set distance.
2. Then, you'll need to time yourself. This is important because it will motivate you. If you did 22:15 yesterday and did 20:54 today, you'll be happy to know that you've improved. I usually start the stopwatch when I start my route and stop it when I finished. You can also take rests and "get off the clock" for short periods of time.
Personally, I like just starting it once and stopping it at the end. It keeps you from fiddling with a watch. Some stopwatch also let you time laps. Meaning that for each loop, you can save a different time. This is good because you'll know if you're on pace or not.
3. Once you've timed yourself, you can now figure out your speed by simply using a rule of three. Take your distance in miles and multiply it by 60 (for sixty minutes). Then divide by the time it took you to complete your training. You'll end up with your speed in miles per hour. I usually keep track of this by either blogging about it or writing it in a log book.
Now, all that's left is to start training and working out!
Lastly, since you are going to be running laps, you can easily stash plastic water bottle somewhere. I usually do this. I reuse a bottle. The trick is to freeze it beforehand and then stash it somewhere, like under a bench. Then you just pick it up for a sip when you need it. On a bike, I keep a lot of bottles with me. Better too many than too few!
Click to see all of this month's Home Hacks tutorials.