Deciding where to run can be the toughest part of your run. There are so many options when creating a running route for yourself and it can be difficult to figure out what works for you. Everyone is different. What works for one person may not be what works for another person. The best thing you can do is try different running courses until you realize what motivates you the most.

Course Styles: Out and Back VS Loop

GPS Running Route

We have heard the stories of people asking their spouses to marry them by running in such a way to draw it on their running route using their GPS. Of course, it doesn’t need to be so complicated. The question is should you run out and back or in a loop. I used to do some runs one way and some the other. I will still do short loops, but mainly I have learned that in order not to cheat, I have to do out and back. There is usually a point in my run that I just want to quit.

I suggest paying attention to what works for you. Some may prefer a loop because you don’t repeat the places you are going on a single run. As your runs get longer it is good to know what will help you finish the full distance that you set out to do.

Time VS Distance


If you are planning a loop, you will have to plan it based on distance. Using an app like Map My Run will get you the most success in planning. You don’t need a GPS watch this way if you don’t want to use one or don’t have one (yet). Just watch the time so that you can calculate out your pace at the end for measuring progress.

An out and back course can be used for either time or distance. You can pre-determine a turn around point at a certain distance to keep it simple. If you have a nice trail that goes on forever, you can just run until it is time to turn around. Decide what that time is ahead of time though. You will have to get yourself back.

Point A to Point B

Running from point A to point B works when you can run to work or run to a friends house. I once wasn’t sure if I could go through with my first 8 mile run, so I had my husband drop me of 8 miles away and I just had to run back. It isn’t always the choice that is realistic or possible, but sometimes these are the best runs. The entire time, you are just headed to your destination. If you are hitting a new point in your running and it seems a little daunting, try getting from point A to Point B if you can work out the details.

Good luck on your running route planning. What is your favorite course type?