When is a mile not a mile ?

I originally measured the mile I'm killing myself to run faster over in the Rover - old clockwork mileometer.

By chance this week I re-measured it in the newer Peugeot with all singing all dancing computer thingy on it. It came to just over 1.1 miles. I measured it again 3 times - driving fast and slow just in case it made a difference (!) and it still came to just over 1.1miles. Suddenly, over night I'd transformed from someone unable to do 10min miles to someone romping round in 8min 14secs/mile. Paula watch out!!

Boy was I made up. Then reality struck a chord - who's to say the new computer mile gauge was the correct one? So I rang the garage - they said an error of up to 15% was acceptable!!! It isn't to me...I pay by the mile for my car quite apart from the running implications!

So I borrowed a wheely measuring thing from the LA and have just come back from measuring it.

RELIEF !!!!its 1671m = 1.0381 miles.

Could have been much much worse eg just under a mile - in which case I'd've had to move the dead badger which is one of my markers........

So just as a word of warning..if you think you've done a 20 mile run - accurately measured on your car - it might have been 17 miles - or 23 !


  • I use a combination of maps, pacing and the computer on my bike to measure distance. Taking an average of all types works quite well, I find :)
  • Hi, I generaly use the bike to measure my routes as well, and check it with a map, obviously the map measurement should always be shorter as there is no allowance for hills, so this is a good back-up.

    Glad your route was over the mile :)
  • Must admit to being borderline obsessive/compulsive on this one. I have 2 choices when I want to know the exact distance either:
    1. use a track
    2. run on a 4 mile that I accurately measured and marked in 0.5 mile increments using a GPS (sad I know, but I got really into the Garmin eTrex and just had to get one).

    The marked route is along a canal (so totally flat) and I find it really useful for tempo runs, making a reasonable estimate of average pace during a long run and even speedwork if I don't feel like to going to the track or can't get there.

    BTW SS,
    you should be well-chuffed that your marked distance was over a mile, it's always great when it turns out you're going faster than you think ;-)
  • SS - I dipped into the Sean Fishpool's HR thread yesterday...you are truly awesome, I can't BELIEVE how hard you are working!
  • I marked out mile markers on a regular route once with blue spray paint markings here and there.

    When I came past another day, the Water Board had crossed them all out!

    I guess blue paint marks on the path must mean the water pipes need repairing?

  • Mauve man, brilliant idea......
  • Brilliant idea, except use a different colour than blue, or you'll confuse the water board into digging up your running route...
  • If you use yellow for the route it might stop cars parking in your way too ;-)
  • I have a feeling other boards use different colours - I saw a pavement covered in blue, yellow, green and all sorts of colours, and over the next few weeks vans from various boards pulled up and people digging.

    How about the dead badger idea?

    Accurate to within 15% is a bit poor - next to useless in fact!
  • Yes Iain, you're right:

    Blue is Water
    Yellow is Gas
    Red is Electricity
    Green is (I think) telecoms
    Highways seem to use white

    All these paints are biodegradeable, so they gradually disappear (if they're not dug up!)

    I suspect it may be an offence to mark the road or pavement for running purposes.....

    Regarding measurement by car, in addition to the inherent lack of accuracy it will also make quite a difference if the tyres are under or over-inflated.
  • Although race organisers are allowed to spray paint the road, they must get permission from the police or someone though, maybe!
  • Hi Shattered Shins ,intresting thread, I as wondering if you had any spare dead badgers as they are in short supply in Birmingham. If not would dead squirrels be a good substitute? Does any one else have any strange mile markers?
  • Hi B'ham Snail

    Loads of spare dead badgers up here, I wonder if I could post one to you! And strangely even more dead rats - this last week I've seen close to 15 rats - dead or alive - and that's not counting the 2 legged variety. Must be cos its so warm and wet ? Horrible.

    Trickle - thanks!
  • Bugger! God knows what distances I've been running then. I've got an old Mazda and I'm sure the speedometer can't be that accurate. I'll have to measure it with another car. Bah.

  • It would be useful to know if it is illegal or is OK to put a small marker of paint on the public footpath (other than in blue, yellow, red, green or white of course, if those colours have been claimed by the statutory undertakers) by way of mile markers.

    Other groups seem to mark their territory with bubble gum, doggie do, broken glass and old fridges on the public highway, so an occasional paint marker seems fairly innocuous by comparison?

    There aren't going to be enough dead badgers to go round, if that is the sole permissible method for runners to mark out their turf. No point in knowing what a mile is if you can't remember where each one ends.

  • See its threads like this that make me realise people who run have insufficient to think about
  • does anyone know why - usually out in the middle of nowhere - theres suddenly a 'start of measured mile' post then (presumably a mile later if the measurer was sober) an 'end of measured mile' post??

    marker - maybe thats a good use of ones old trainers? you could either string them together and hoof em up a tree, or over the telephone wires, or throw one on someones guttering. These seem to stay around forever !!
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    I confess to being a teeny bit obsessive about the whole distance thing. So much so that I'm tempted to ask Santa for one of those Nike Triax things featured in this month's RW. Although I suspect that Santa will tell me that £220 for a 'gadget' is a bit steep, and what's wrong with the marked piece of paper I've been using to measure distance up to now?
  • Yes i like the sound of the timex
  • Why don't you try trail gauge ???

    All you do is scan in a map of your local area. In some cases it even recognises scale for you.

    Try an O.S explorer 1:25000 map.

    Then all you do is plot your route out with a marker and it gives you the distance in miles and km. If you put in a min per mile time it'll also give you total time for the run and you can mark each point with a time if you like.
    Useful for doing splits.

    It can be found here

  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Sounds good Maxticate - except that our work PCs are restricted so we can't download things from the Internet, and I don't have a scanner either!

    When I get a PC at home I will definitely have a look at this though!
  • I was a good boy so I just got a SDM Triax for my birthday - minimum 97% accurate out of the box and 99% accurate if properly calibrated (e.g. on a track). Trouble is its only "splashproof" (whatever that means) and at 220 quid I'm loath to test its water resistance!
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Does anyone know how to use Trailgauge? I have managed to get one of the IT staff to download it for me onto my work PC (demo version) but having gone to the Trailgauge website, none of the Help files seem to be available explaining how to use it.

    I'm now really frustrated!
  • mINKIN

    You need to unlock it. You can only download a trial version of it. They send you the unlock code on email when you purchase it online from them.

    It's only around 13 dollars.

    But basically this is how I use mine.

    1)Scan in a map of your local area (I use O/S 1:50000 landranger series)
    2)Save the scan as a high quality picture file (i.e not Gif or jpeg. Try Png or Bmp)
    3)open the file in trailgauge by clicking open then selecting the correct file extension (or all files) and your file name.

    4) For me it says cannot automatically calculate scale of map.
    5) Simply click once on a blue line on the map. A black box will appear on the map. Now click on the blue line immediately to it's right. Another black box will appear. Linked to the first by a black line.

    6)Now go up to scale in the task bar and click on it. A drop down list appears.
    Select custom and a pop up window appears in the centre. It asks you to state the distance. (the distance between the blue lines is a km) Type 1 and make sure it's Km.

    7) ok it should now say scale set or something. (mine's 118 pixels to 1km)

    8) Just plot your route out by clicking on the map. Try to keep to all the bends in the roads to make it more accurate. (It's always a straight line between points)

    On the left it'll tell you your distance and times and stuff. Play with this area to see what you can do.

    You can even set height above sea level so it takes ito account gradients.
    But that'll come later.

    When you've finished your route save it. When you want to plot a different route simply open your old one and select New Route in the taskbar. That'll save you having to do the scale thing again. Then save your new route as a different file name.

    Any problems email me [email protected]
  • sorry to butt in. just turning email notification off - its getting a bit techie for a mere beginner like me!

    good luck!
  • There is a low tech method I used to use.

    Take a piece of paper and a pencil and a map. Put the top left hand corner at the start of your route. Follow the road till a bend then mark the paper.

    Rotate the paper to follow the roads new direction with the mark you made in the same place and repeat.

    Follow the road till it bends make a mark. Rotate paper to follow roads new direction. Follow road till it bends , make a mark etc etc.

    You will now have a sheet of paper with lots of little pencil marks along one edge.

    Now at the bottom of the map is a scale. Put your paper edge along theis scale and read off the distance.

    With practice you can get highly accurate measurements this way.

    I measured a route once then rode it and measured it with a calibrated bike computer. The difference was 30 metres over a 2 mile route.
  • I do that, Maxticate, at work. I have to be accurate to about 10 metres over 2 miles; this is difficult, especially in the great outdoors!

    Trailgauge is a great program though, as it's so quick to use. I must admit, though that I use the free version and 'cheat' by adding up seperate measurements if I need to to measure complex routes ;)
  • You cheap skate !! :)

    Whats 13 dollars ?? 6 Quid ?

    You only get 12 points or so with the trial version. I was in two minds but I'm more lazy than I am tightfisted :)
  • Stop using miles - use kilometres. We live in a grown up country now.
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