Staying in Shape the Data-Driven Way

Posted February 13, 2006 at 1:54 am 6 Comments
Garmin Forerunner 201

One of the coolest Christmas gifts I got this year was the Garmin Forerunner 201, a GPS wristwatch designed especially for athletes. It keeps track of your running or bicycling routes by logging timestamped GPS coordinates, and you can hook it up to your computer to download the data logs.

The software that ships with the Forerunner is pretty good for viewing aggregate statistics and tracking your performance over time, but it doesn’t allow you to visualize your routes in a particularly compelling way. However, the software does offer the intriguing capability to export your workout history to an XML file, so I decided to see what I could do with the data. Forerunner Logbook Software
Monzy's Running Log

After taking a little time to familiarize myself with the Google Maps API (and borrowing code from a number of clever web developers), I put together this Running Log. It lets me play back my runs on an overhead map, along with per-mile splits and an altitude graph.

Unfortunately the altitude data isn’t particularly accurate; I noticed several runs in which the initial and final altitudes were quite different even though the run started and stopped at the same point. But the resolution of the latitude and longitude data is great — most of the maps can even correctly show which side of the street I’m running on.

Let me know if you find any bugs or have ideas on how to improve the visualization. There are a number of features I’d like to add, but I’m hesitant to invest too much development time in it while I’m supposed to be writing my thesis proposal.

And be sure to revisit my log later this week, when Chris and I will be attempting a heart-shaped run for Valentine’s Day.


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  1. I’d like to post my own running log. I have a Garmin. Can you post your source code?

    Comment by renaudster — May 2, 2006 #

  2. Yeah – I’d love to see the code for that. There are commercial services that do similar stuff, but the animation element you added is a great touch. Please post the code!

    Comment by Ethan — May 12, 2006 #

  3. I too would like to use this for my own runs. I’m not too much of a web developer but if you can make it available I’d like to try it. Thanks,


    Comment by Damien — June 19, 2006 #

  4. I set up a similar site when the API first came out. Then Google changed their API and my map went blank. I finally took the time to fix it just last week.
    If you want brute-force source code, it is open for perusal at Certainly room for improvement to set up a trail database with MySQL and PHP.

    Comment by Charlie Bader — April 29, 2007 #

  5. Monzy- Looks like you got your log fixed! Love the animation. When is your next run, you must be getting out of shape by now 😉
    I tried some geographically separated traceroutes to my server and they all fail at the same router. A search reveals that other people have had this problem:

    Comment by Charlie Bader — May 4, 2007 #

  6. Hey Monzy, how are things? You must be busy as the last blog here was about 6 years back. Getting a ton of spam lately and trying to figure out where it’s coming from. Can you please remove my email address from my comments? Rather stupid of me to put it in there like that. Never figured robots would be crawling everwhere, but they are. Curious to see what you are up to!

    Comment by Charlie Bader — November 25, 2014 #

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