How To Plan A Running Route: 9 Best Apps For Plotting Runs

Bored of running the same old route around the block? Want to add some variety to your runs? Or are you just starting out your running journey and don’t know where to run? It’s a smart idea to plan your routes to keep things exciting, safe, and fun.

For that, its useful to have a great route-planning app.

Most of the apps we look at below come with everything you need, so you can map out your route quickly and easily. For veteran runners, a change of scenery will take the dullness out of your runs with new things to discover along the way. For new runners, having a route already mapped out removes the anxiety of running in new areas, especially if you’re alone.

It’s good to have a few interesting routes at your disposal, especially those that have been tried and tested by other runners to provide the best experience and safety.

Below, we’ll look at some of our favorite map routing apps and tools. Find one that suits your needs among these popular apps available for the modern, smart runner, and get on your way to discovering new trails and routes!

How to Plan a Running Route: Our Favorite Run Plotting Apps

How to plan a running route

What are the best apps and tools for creating your next running route?

From the major running apps like Strava, Map My Run and Garmin Connect, to country-specific tools like OS Maps… there are some great route planners on the market. Let’s see which is the best choice for you!

Garmin Connect

Garmin Connect running route
An existing course on Garmin Connect

This app is available for both Apple iOS and Android mobile platforms, or you can get it for your laptop. It has extensive route-planning features, which we love.

The app allows you to plot a basic route with a beginning and end point and uses existing route information to generate your course. It’s also compatible with other apps like Strava, so you can also update the app with new routes from them.

Apart from being compatible with a wide range of devices, Garmin Connect also offers a long list of great features for you as a runner. With Garmin Connect, you can create custom routes for a change of scenery that fits in with your personal routine.

You can now plot round-trip trails with devices that support the new feature that brings you back to your starting point. This can be done by entering the distance you want to run, and it plots your course.

The app uses information from other routes to plot your course quickly and generate a route for you. This is a great option for runners who want to alternate their running routes to make it a bit more interesting or who are in new areas and don’t know where to run.

To create a new running route with Garmin Connect:

  1. Log in to your Garmin Connect account.
  2. Click on the “Training” tab in the top menu.
  3. Click on “Courses” in the left-hand menu.
  4. Click on “Create Course” to begin planning your route.
  5. Use the map on the right-hand side to plot your course. You can zoom in and out using the “+” and “-” buttons, and click and drag to move the map around.
  6. To add a point to your route, click on the map at the location where you want to add the point.
  7. To delete a point, click on the point and then click on the trash can icon that appears.
  8. To move a point, click and drag it to a new location.
  9. To save your course, click on the “Save” button at the bottom of the page.
  10. You can then give your course a name, description, and tags to help you find it later.


Plan a running route on Komoot

This is an app and a website where runners can upload their routes and share their experiences with fellow users. The social feed of Komoot provides you with a list of local routes that are safe to use and are regularly updated.

On the platform, you’ll find many tips and tricks on the most effective ways to plan your running courses. Runners, hikers, bikers, and all types of athletes can benefit from the route-planning features available in the app.

The Route Planner tool can be used on your device or on the website to plan your route without hassles. Simply create an account and then log in with your username.

By entering a start and finish point, the app generates a very practical and logical route for you to take. Useful features include reversing the course direction or changing the starting point, providing you with a new route in seconds.

We particularly like how the app will compute the different terrain and surfaces you will encounter on each route. Want to stick to footpaths and roads? You can see exactly how much of the chosen route is covered. There’s also a handy indicator of your recommended fitness level to cover a generated route.

You can choose between:

  • Untrained
  • Good Shape
  • Athletic
  • Pro

Certainly good to know before embarking on a 20km wander over steep hills!

Komoot is compatible with many smartwatches, smartphones, and GPS watches, including Garmin, Samsung, and Apple.

Plot a Route

Plot A Route

This is a free route planner website for athletes and casual runners to plot their running course. With Plot a Route, you have a simple interface where you insert a starting and ending point, and it’ll generate a route for you.

It’s best used to ‘sketch’ out possible routes, with useful indicators of terrain, elevation and distance between popular waypoints.

While you need to have an Internet connection to make use of all the features, you can use your device offline after plotting a route. This route planner is better for runners with laptops, which can then be saved to a mobile phone. You’ll need to have an account and be logged in to use this feature.

The site works out the distance you’ll run after you provide your start and end points. It also allows you to add the speed you intend to run, which gives you an estimated time the route takes to finish.

It may not be the most beautiful or intuitive app, but it’s great for generating route ideas on the fly. And you can lose a surprising amount of time just by binging through the routes saved by other users.


Strava route planner

Strava is a great app for those who want a running route planner that ties in with one of the most popular running communities in the world. To design your own courses, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version.

By doing so, you’ll unlock one of the best running route creators on the market. Strava is packed full of innovative mapping features. It also comes with safety features like Beacon, which you can send to friends or families to track you if you are heading off the beaten path.

Plan a running route on Strava using the following steps:

  1. Log in to your Strava account.
  2. Click on the “Explore” tab in the top menu.
  3. Click on “Routes” in the left-hand menu.
  4. Click on “Create New Route” to begin planning your route.
  5. Use the map on the right-hand side to plot your course. You can zoom in and out using the “+” and “-” buttons, and click and drag to move the map around.
  6. To add a point to your route, click on the map at the location where you want to add the point.
  7. To delete a point, click on the point and then click on the trash can icon that appears.
  8. To move a point, click and drag it to a new location.
  9. To save your route, click on the “Save” button at the top of the page.
  10. You can then give your route a name, description, and tags to help you find it later.

Once you’ve saved your route, you can sync it to your Strava app and use it for your next run. You can also share your route with other Strava users and download routes created by others in the Strava community. Strava will also provide you with information about the elevation, distance, and estimated time for your route, helping you plan your run more effectively.

You can use the 3D-viewer to check out the terrain of a route with a high level of detail so you know what you’re in for.

The best thing about using Strava is you can tap in to the huge pool of data from other users. Want to compete for the best ‘segment’ on your chosen route? You can see a full leaderboard of every runner who has tried the same route.

Not only can you see the routes that other runners have taken, but you can see their performance metrics. It’s great for data junkies!

See more: Strava free vs paid – is it worth the upgrade?

OS Maps

OS Maps route planning

OS Maps is a fantastic route planning tool for runners (and hikers), but it’s best suited to users in the United Kingdom.

This app specialises in providing richly detailed and accurate maps of the UK, including Ordnance Survey maps that are highly trusted and relied upon by outdoor enthusiasts. Not only will OS Maps give you an accurate view of the route, but it will help you to assess the conditions too. With rolling weather updates, and the ability to do a 3D fly through of the route (premium version only), this is a brilliant little tool to add to your training planner.

Just like the rest of our picks, OS Maps lets you customise a route by adding or removing waypoints, changing the type of terrain, and adjusting the distance.

OS Maps does a good job of curating ‘premium’ routes from expert users.

Not sure where to go on your next run?

Simply enter your postcode and trawl through all the recommended routes in your area.


Plot a running route on Mapometer

The Mapometer interface is easy to use and provides runners with everything needed to plot a course. Once you put in the starting and end point, it’ll generate a safe route for you to follow in the map layout.

Mapometer provides highly accurate distance and elevation data for routes, which can be extremely useful for runners who want to plan their training runs and races in advance. The tool uses satellite imagery and GPS technology to ensure that the distance and elevation measurements are as accurate as possible.

This app generates a close-loop route and provides you with the total distance you’ll run. When you create the route, you can choose the terrain you’d like to run on, which is a great added extra, especially for those who enjoy switching between trail and road running. By choosing to close the loop, the tool will send you on the simplest route back to your starting location.

Admittedly, the site is nowhere near as polished as Strava or Garmin Connect. We prefer to use it as a preliminary tool to sketch out routes on a desktop computer or laptop.

On The Go Map

On The Go Map

With Onthegomap, you don’t need to sign in or create an account before you have access to the app’s features. There’s also no need to download an app to your phone; simply connect to the website and get to using the tool.

The obvious limitation is that you can’t rely on this tool when you’re running. It’s another route planning tool that is better for sketching out possible routes, before moving them over to Garmin or Strava for accurate navigation on-the-move.

We use On The Go Map as a basic measuring tool for calculating route distance. Simply enter your waypoints and the planner will snap to the most efficient route, whilst displaying the expected distance (nice and clearly, as you can see above!).

Google Maps

We all know about Google Maps and most of us have used it before to find directions or view street addresses. But did you know that it can be used to plan bike trails and plot running routes?

Here’s how you plan running routes on Google Maps:

  1. Open Google Maps: Go to the Google Maps website ( on your computer or open the Google Maps app on your smartphone.
  2. Sign in: Sign in to your Google account to save and access your custom routes later.
  3. Find your location: Type in your starting point or current location into the search bar and press Enter. Google Maps will center on the location you entered.
  4. Activate the distance measurement tool (Desktop only): If you are using the desktop version, you can activate the distance measurement tool by right-clicking on your starting point on the map and selecting “Measure distance” from the context menu.
  5. Plan your route: Click on the map to create a series of waypoints, which will form your running route. You can follow streets, paths, or create your own path. As you add waypoints, Google Maps will calculate the total distance of your route. If you’re using the mobile app, you can create a route by dropping pins and connecting them manually, but it’s not as intuitive as the desktop version.
  6. Edit your route: If you need to make adjustments to your route, simply click and drag any waypoints to new locations. The distance will update automatically.
  7. Save your route (Desktop only): Once you’re satisfied with your route, you can save it by clicking the three-dot menu next to the total distance and selecting “Save.” Give your route a name and choose a folder to save it in. You can access your saved routes by going to “Your Places” in Google Maps and clicking the “Maps” tab.
  8. Send the route to your phone (Desktop only): If you created the route on your computer, you can send it to your smartphone by clicking the “Send directions to your phone” button in the left panel. This will allow you to access your route while you’re out running.

Remember that Google Maps is not specifically designed for planning running routes, so it may not have information on certain trails or paths. If you’re looking for a more dedicated tool for planning and tracking your runs, you can explore some of the other apps we’ve suggested like Strava, MapMyRun, or Runkeeper.

Map My Run

Map My Run is one of the major running apps. It’s great for providing data analysis, inspiration and community in equal measures.

This popular app focuses on providing features and tools specifically designed for runners, including: route planning, tracking, and performance analysis. The great thing about planning your routes on Map My Run is that you can get real-time feedback as you work your way through the course.

Map My Run will collect your data on pace, distance, elevation, and calories burned. It also offers post-run analysis to help you identify trends and improve your performance.

It’s easy to create your own maps (see below), or you can browse through previously created routes from the thousands of other runners using the app. Unlike Strava, route creation is included in the free subscription.

Mix It Up: Plot A New Running Route

These are just a few of the most popular route-planning apps runners can use to plot their next long run.

Of course, you don’t have to rely on technology and digital maps to mix up your running routes. Some runners prefer to take the old-fashioned approach of hitting the trails without a set plan, or simply seeing where the next run takes them.

Just keep in mind your safety. Especially if you are running off the beaten path!

What’s your favorite tool for planning running routes?

Author Profile

Alex Randall

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Alex is the editor at Revel Sports. It was his idea to take our post-club-run chats and build a website out of them. He is responsible for dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s when any of us have something to post. (Basically: it’s all his fault). A ferocious 5K powerhouse on his day, Alex is known for not understanding the meaning of the term ‘negative split‘.
Alex Randall

Revel SPorts Contributor

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