Virtual Earth Workout Tracker - Part I

by Gong Liu March 26, 2009 11:27

I picked up a 24 Hour Fitness membership last Thanksgiving, but I realized that I would need something to motivate myself to go to the gym as often as I could. I remembered when I was in junior high school we had a long-distance running event. The goal of the event was to cumulate the running mileage of all students in a class to reach a number that symbolized something. Of course, in that era of China, every event had to be political. We symbolized our running as the Long March led by Chairman Mao in 1934-35, which covered some 8000 miles. I remembered we had a paper map that highlighted our symbolized route. Each day our class monitor would advance a little flag pin along the route to show our collective progress. We were encouraged to compare our map with that of other classes throughout the school. Man, that little map motivated me so much that I would run 10 kilometers a day almost every day for the entire event!

So I set out to create an electronic version of the paper map I had in junior high. It will serve the purposes of tracking my workout and motivating me by showing my daily progress against my goals. The result is the Virtual Earth Workout Tracker, as shown below.

Main Features

The workout tracker has these features:

  • It clearly shows the symbolized route and my workout progress on Virtual Earth. I can zoom and pan the map any way I want.
  • At the bottom is a bar graph that shows my progress against my goals in terms of days passed (which include workout days and resting days), cumulated distance, and cumulated calories .
  • Each workout day is marked as a little red square along the route. Clicking a workout day marker will show me the workout activities and statistics for that day.
  • I can play a slide show about all my workout days with the controls at the bottom-left corner.

Goal Setting 

My primary goal is to go to the gym or do some kind of outdoor activities as often as I can so that fitness becomes part of my life style. My plan is to cross the US coast to coast in one year, symbolicly that is. The total distance is about 3000 miles. I can make it if I workout 300 days of the year at the rate of 10 miles per day. That leaves me one day of rest per week, plus some holidays. Of course running 10 miles per day is unrealistic for my condition. So I will have to "cheat" a little bit - every activity by any means counts. All the cardio machines in the gym count, treadmill, elliptical trainer, stairmaster, stationary bike, etc. All outdoor activities count, jogging, biking, hiking, swimming, etc. I'm allowed to collect about 9 miles a day simply by biking to and from my workplace, for example.

My secondary goal is to lost some weight and build strength. I intend to lost 20 pounds to reach my desired body weight, which means I need to burn at least 70,000 calories in one year. All cardio machines in the gym have calorie readings, even though they are not terribly accurate. By my experience elliptical trainers tend to over estimate calories burned, while treadmills and stairmasters tend to do the oppsite. Counting calories burned druing weight lifting is too tedious, so I'll simply ignore it. For outdoor activities, I will use the following table as reference:


These numbers are based on the Health Calculators found here. Calorie-intake and basic metabolic rate are also very important. But again they are too tedious to count. I'll simply multiply the original calorie goal by a factor of 2 to accomadate all the uncertainties. So my final calorie goal is 140,000 160,000 175,000 calories per year.

About the Route

The route I choose has no particular meaning other than the fact that it is cross country and about 3000 miles. It starts from Redondo Beach, CA and ends at Plymouth, MA. The route is actually a drivable route generated by Vertual Earth route engine. Of course, if you want, you can choose some famous historical route or a route that is meanful to you. Here are some ideas:

In Part II, I will disciss the technical aspect of the Virtual Earth Workout Tracker.


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