For first-timers, running can often seem very daunting. For marathoners, running ultramarathons can sound appealing. Regardless of what kind of runner you are, the Internet allows us to have all the resources we could possibly need. Here are 5 of my favorite online running resources:
Runner’s World is the internet destination of Runner’s World magazine. The website is very popular among the running community. All stages of runners can find articles about anything from shoe recommendations to surviving a marathon. The site has great tools including body calculators, running logs and training plans.
PROs: It caters equally to runners of all levels. When I started running, I didn’t have a clue where to begin, and this website introduced me to Amby Burfoot’s writing. After reading a few articles, I bought this book. I use it often, and the amount of information on this website is incredible. It’s helped me so much, answering even the odd and funny running questions runners can have.
CONs: In order to get all the content of this site, you must purchase the Premium Membership, the cheapest package being $9.92/month for 12 months ($119). There are way too many ads on the page, and they take up a lot of room. The forums can be inappropriate for young eyes. While it has local races available, the amount of races posted are far less than other websites.
Active.com is a favorite for athletes of all kinds, known as one of the best local activity directories. It has a huge following and can lead you to community events you wouldn’t have stumbled upon otherwise. A great resource for people who are trying to find road races.
PROs: I found my very first road race on this website, and found a lot of other running and non-running activities I’ve been interested in. It also uses social networking websites to help you find other people interested in the activities (and can get your friends interested). I first heard about mud runs and obstacle courses here, two things I’d love to try.
CONs: Not all content is free, and can cost upwards of $10 a month, depending which membership you choose. It can be an annoying website. I had signed up for a premium membership, and it often takes me to a different website, rather than keeping me synched to the main website, and then will continually ask me to log in again. I’ve also read incorrect information on one of their races, though when they were notified of the error, it was corrected immediately.
Spark People is a website that tracks nutrition and fitness, a tool very useful for runners trying to lose weight. The community using the website is huge, making it easy to find even the most specific foods. It is a very community-driven website, the forums are extensive and it’s easy to contact others.
PROs: The nutrition and fitness trackers are very detailed, which is critical to some people. It also has a list of groups members can join to find people with similar interests or health issues. The website is completely free.
CONs: Forum posts can get inappropriate and off topic easily. Some people prefer less detailed logging. I also believe websites like this can be dangerous, as I’m not always supportive of “calorie counting”.
8tracks.com is “internet’s handcrafted radio”. People create and share playlists on this website for any and every occasion. It’s one of the best websites of its kind, I’ve found lots of music to add to my running playlists that helps keep me on the trail.
PROs: I’m a runner that absolutely needs to be listening to music while I run. Hearing the sound of my panting is not very motivational to me. Jay-Z blasting through my headphones makes me wonder if I could run forever. You can search by song, style, artist, occasion or name. Some of my favorite songs were discovered on here.
CONs: The songs aren’t in MP3 form, so you have to either buy them or (il)legally download them elsewhere. To publish a playlist, you must have the MP3 files of the songs on your computer. Also, you can skip a limited amount of songs per hour.
Map My Run is a handy phone-friendly website that maps, logs and charts your workouts involving a GPS. It can sync up to any smartphone, tracking distance, time, calories, splits and elevation. It then sends this information, along with a map of the run to your account, where you can track your progress and share it with friends.
PROs: The technology of it is amazing, and it’s a great way to visualize your runs. I particularly love that it graphs my runs and I can see how I’m improving so easily. I also like that it calculates the splits, so I can see when I’m stuck at a traffic light, or see what point of my run is the fastest.
CONs: The GPS is not always correct. It has botched mine up many times, and the application for my phone (Blackberry Bold) crashes, eats up battery and sometimes won’t save my workouts. It has a gold membership, that costs money, but I don’t think it’s worth the money at all.
If you don’t go after your goals, you’ll never reach them. -Kevin Wong, 22