What's the Best Way to Measure How Far I Ran?

Sport & Activity

You can do a trial run to track your pace, map out a distance route ahead of time, and try these other techniques for tracking exactly how far you run.

Last updated: 9 December 2021
4 min read
What's the Best Way to Measure How Far I Ran?

Sure, some people run just for the fun of it, with no eye to the clock or how many miles they are pounding across the pavement. But for many runners, miles matter. Knowing how far you run can help you set goals for distance—whether to help stay fit, train for a race, support a weight loss plan, know when to replace your running shoes or just feel good about your accomplishment.

While there's no average running distance to measure yourself against, research has found that running for around 4.5 hours a week—at a moderate pace of about six miles per hour, or 10 minutes per mile—is one of the best ways to maximise the health benefits of running.

So, how far can you get?

Track with Technology

Wearable fitness trackers with GPS are handy tools that give you plenty of data simply by putting them on. Not only that, but many options are sophisticated enough to let you set fitness and wellness goals that running can help you achieve. You can track your fitness statistics over time to see your progress and establish more direct connections between your physical activity—running, walking etc.—and your health.

Some wearable GPS trackers even integrate with fitness apps that can help you stay on track with the help of a virtual coach. You can get tips on your personal running plan and feel the motivating support of having a virtual "partner" pushing you each mile you go.

The Nike Apple Watch, for example, has all the bells and whistles and then some. Not only can you utilise all the features of an Apple Watch, you also get access to the Nike Run Club App directly on the watch (you can also download NRC on your phone, if you prefer). The Nike Run Club App lets you track workouts and listen to Audio-Guided Runs so you can listen to the wise and motivating words of a coach while you run. As an added perk, the Nike Apple Watch lets you pick from exclusive Nike watch faces and special Nike sport watch bands.

By empowering you to see how distance, heart rate, pace and more all connect, fitness trackers help paint a complete picture of the impact running can have on your health. GPS fitness trackers do all the thinking and calculating while you move, so you only have to remember to charge it up and put it on before you take off on your daily run.

Map Out a Route

Even if you're already using a fitness app or watch to track your run, an easy way to calculate your distance is with a route map tracker. Tools like Google Maps let you map your route in advance, making it easier to hit specific mileage goals. They also help you avoid areas where you don't want to run because of the terrain, elevation, traffic or anything else that can make the run challenging. Create the route that works best for you.

Another benefit to establishing fixed runs via a map is protecting yourself from overexertion. While you may feel really great on your run when you begin, you probably want to end the run back where you started. Planning the whole route for your optimal distance means you won't run out of stream before getting to the end.

You also have the ability to map out a few routes in advance. This helps you vary your daily runs without sacrificing the distance you want to go so you can create the workout plan that's right for you. You might even choose to build in some walking time to cool down at the end.

Use a Little Maths

To take a more basic approach to tracking the miles you run each day, all you need is some simple maths and a few key bits of information. You'll need to know (1) the total time you run, as well as (2) your pace.

It's not easy to establish your pace without some outside help. You need to be sure you're running a specific distance before you start. While inconsistencies in terrain can affect your pace, setting a baseline on a flat, level surface will get you the best number to work with when it comes to these mathematical calculations.

To set up an accurate pace baseline, run a mile on a 400-metre or quarter-mile track (the standard length). One mile equals four times around. However long it takes you to complete this one-mile run gives you a rough estimate of your miles per hour. Make sure you run at what feels like a natural pace. Don't pelt it through the whole mile, as you won't be able to maintain that pace for every run. You're trying to establish a realistic pace that you could potentially manage if you were to run any day. For example, if you run the mile in 10 minutes (which is pretty close to the average time), then you're running six miles per hour.

From there, the equation is simple:

  • Time (in hours) x MPH = total miles

So, if you run the suggested 4.5 hours a week at your time-trial pace—4.5 x 6—you'll run roughly 27 miles each week.

Celebrate Your Running Wins

Tracking your running miles can not only motivate you to keep going, but it can also help show you your progress as a runner. The more you run, the more your pace may improve and the further you may find yourself wanting to go. Even if you don't run a lot each day, just 5–10 minutes can have a positive effect on your health. It can lead to a reduction in the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other common diseases.

With all the potential a good run can offer, maybe it's time to start going the distance.

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