Word of Caution About Mapping Sites

When traveling to a new city, I always like to refer to sites like MapMyRun or Garmin Connect so I know where the locals like to run. I also use courses run by similar runners to me on Dailymile that they upload. It is a big timesaver to do that versus trying to find out routes on my own. Sometimes what looks good on Google Maps doesn’t always tell the real story. Getting local running routes is a big help.

Word of Caution

A big problem with sites like that is not actually a problem with the site but with the habits of the users. These sites make it easier on the runner as it pulls the GPS data from the watch/app and allows you to just upload that data. This data includes your route, distance, elevation, pace, etc. This is helpful for other runners to know what to expect as far as ascent.

The bad part about all of that is that many runners upload all of their routes to places like MapMyRun, Dailymile, Google Connect, etc and when other runners search for a route, you can actually pinpoint where that runner lives. If they upload on a regular basis, you can find out what time that person typically does their runs, where they do them, and sometimes the photo of the individual. With just a little running site comparisons on some of those accounts, I can find out what the name of an individual is, what they look like, when they run, and sometimes where they work. That is a lot of information with a few clicks! Unfortunately, there are some people in the world who look for things like that and do so with the intent of causing mischief or worse. While we upload these things to help other runners, other people may use this information for bad reasons.

Staying Safe

If you have a great route that you would like to upload for other people’s enjoyment, there are some things you can do to keep yourself safe.

  • First, start your run down the street from your house. It doesn’t have to be 1/2 mile away – just a few hundred feet one way or another or one street over.
  • Another thing you can do is to run the route at a non-typical run time. In other words, run the route some other time than when you would normally run it.
  • If you do have a photo tied to the account, use a different account to upload most of the routes you want to share that does not have your photo attached.
  • Draw the route. You can also simply draw the route on many of those websites instead of uploading your GPS data. This way, you can start the route from wherever you want.

I love these websites and always appreciate the information that other runners share. I like competing against an unknown runner :). When they upload their pace and route, I like to see if I can do better than that – it is kind of fun running against someone else when they are not there. Keep using these sites as many runners will thank you, but just be careful with your data so that you do not share too much. Many runners do this safely all the time – I just want to encourage you to do the same.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.