Shadyside is a great place to run. It's flat, and many of the streets are one-way and have very little traffic. The loop I usually run is from Centre and Devonshire, down Bayard to Amberson to Howe, then down Howe street until it ends. This is 1.9 miles each way. Take advantage of the lack of traffic and run on the street. Concrete is 10 times harder than asphalt. Also, to find the length of a street route, you can use Mapquest. Unlike many of the other mapping services, Mapquest provides distances to the hundreth of a mile. This is necessary because to get the distance of a specific route, you often have to break it up into a series of straight-line queries. Otherwise, Mapquest will choose a shorter route or prefer larger streets. When the lengths of some sections are less than 0.1 miles, more accuracy is important. Just ask for driving directions from one intersection to the next and add them up.
Eliza Furnace Trail (2.74 Miles)
This trail runs from Greenfield to downtown and is quite flat. The trail is paved with asphalt, but there is some dirt on the sides that you can run on. Opinions vary widely as to its length. If you search for web pages about this trail you will find estimates of 2.43, 2.5, 2.6, 3.5, 3.95, and 5 miles. Honestly, how hard is it to just measure the trail length? Shouldn't the city do this?
Update: We have done this! We got a distance monitor for Jessica's bike and carefully biked the length of the trail. The number above is the distance from the yellow bars at the Greenfield side to the edge of the circular compass thing downtown (past the rental place). Some key distances:
Schenley Oval (1K loop)
This loop is great for doing longer, timed runs like tempo or threshold runs. The oval is one kilometer in length and flat. It retains several large puddles for a few days after a big rainstorm, but is not as wet as other Schenley trails. It is almost unusable once it starts snowing. The oval is in the highest part of Schenley park, so you usually get a nice breeze.
Schenley Park Trails
Schenley Park contains a fairly extensive system of gravel trails. I used to like them a lot. The surface is soft and the scenery is great. However, lately I have been annoyed by the fact that the trails are all banked in random directions. I like that they are hilly, so that's not what I'm complaining about. What bothers me is that you're often running along and the trail slopes to your left. This is extra annoying when the trail is actually curving to the right. Someone needs to go in there and smooth these trails out. However, should you decide to run on them, you can find distances on the park map, which I have scanned in.
The Montour trail is awesome, but far away. It starts out by Robinson Town Center and extends for something like 40 miles. If you run to the southwest, away from Wickes furniture, there are mile markers every mile and also half-mile markers. The surface is smooth and soft and, being a rail-trail, it is very flat. It is not very shaded, but there is a tunnel a few miles down that is always cool. There is a website at www.montourtrail.org.
There is a direct link to the training log in the lower-lefthand corner. It can also be reached from the "Training Tools" menu. Nike running is a great site and I really like their online training log. It's completely free and allows you to track all sorts of information, including heartrate, weather info, calorie consumption, and of course time, pace, and distance (any one of which it can calculate from the other two). It also has some very nice graphing capabilities, including the ability to create custom graphs of any of the properties it tracks (now if only it would let you save them).
This is my favorite log. It has a great calendar view, which shows mileage each day, highlights quality days, and gives mileage per week. It also lets you enter warmup and cooldown miles with your workout (many logs lack this ability). It has no graphing capabilities, but it does let you export your log to Excel format. I also like their choices for run types. They even separate Aerobic Intervals and Anaerobic Intervals (intervals and reps, respectively, in Daniel's jargon).
This tool helps you measure your routes using the map and satellite data provided by Google Maps. You just enter the name of your city then click on the map to trace out your route. The tool adds up the length of each segment and tells you the distance of the full route.
This is my kind of web tool. Simple interface and everything you need on one screen. Calculates time, pace, distance (any one from the other two), converts distance and pace between kilometers and miles, and gives predicted race performances at various distances.
Adding up times is a common task that is very tedious to do by hand. This tools makes the process easy. Useful for adding up splits, for example after an interval session.
The Lore of Running
This is probably the best running book out there. I just can't imagine anything else being more complete. The Lore or Running is 930 pages of biology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and sports science. Every section includes references to research papers relevant to the topic at hand. This makees it an excellent resource for the scientist / runner. It is, however, light on explicit training advice. There are a few training schedules that the author has borrowed from Jack Daniels, Jeff Galloway, and Pete Pfitzinger, but nothing like the detail you get in a book like "Daniel's Running Formula." Still, this book is the most comprehensive running reference out there. It contains sections on everything from temperature regulation during exercise to factors that influence the gastric emptying rate. It also includes an excellent section on injury diagnosis and treatment.
Daniels' Running Formula
Whereas "Lore of Running" is more like a textbook, this is much more of a training manual. It gives specific training programs depending on your goals, telling you when to run, how far, at what intensity and with what rest. All of this is based on your "VDOT" value, a measure of your fitness based on recent race results. I got this book shortly after "Lore of Running" and didn't really use it for quite a while. Back then, I was just gradually extending my runs, adding miles but not changing the pace much. Then, I decided to start doing some speedwork, to get ready for races. That's when this book became really useful. There's really only one way to extend a long run (run farther), but there are a variety of possible interval workouts (speed, length, and rest can all be varied). This book describes the most effective combinations of these and also talks about base building, peaking, and race strategies. It has different plans for each common racing distance and also general plans for people who just run for fitness. However, this book is really geared toward more serious runners. The training plans assume that you are running 7 days per week and are covering at least 50 miles per week, although they can be adjusted down. If you get this book, make sure you get the second edition (some places still only carry the first).
The Tailwind is my favorite running toy lately. It is a small pod that clips onto your shoe and measures your distance and pace (it also measures time and calories burned). It's very lightweight, so you don't notice it on your foot and I have found it to be very accurate (it is off by maybe 2% and I haven't even calibrated it). It is different from a pedometer in that it doesn't count steps, but instead measures the actual forward acceleration of your foot. From these acceleration measurements, it calculates the distance for each stride.
There are currently two types of speed/distance monitors available. One is based on GPS satellite measurements. The other is accelerometer-based, like the Tailwind. I haven't used the GPS-based monitors, but have heard that they can sometimes be foiled by tree cover and tall buildings. They also go through batteries much more quickly than the accelerometers and require you to wear a GPS receiver on your arm. However, they do have the advantage that they work for sports other than running, like biking and rollerblading. They're probably more accurate too (when they have a good signal).
I should note that Nike also has a watch / heart-rate monitor / footpod combination that does everything the Tailwind does but displays it on the watch (and lets you take splits). If you're planning on getting a heart-rate monitor also, this might be the way to go. Also, Polar and Fitsense have products based on the same accelerometer technology. And the Polar version can even keep track of elevation changes (but is ridiculously expensive).
Update: I just had my first experience with Tailwind inaccuracy. I took it for an easy run with some strides thrown in (25 second sprints). The sprints must have thrown it off somehow, because it registered a ridiculously fast pace for the run. I don't usually take the tailwind with me when I do speedwork, so I can't say whether it was the fast pace, or the sudden alternation of paces that threw it off. Maybe I'll take it to the track tomorrow and do some more testing. Anyway, I've found it to be accurate when I'm doing steady runs at anywhere from a 7:00 to a 9:00 pace. I haven't really tested it under more demanding conditions.