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I'm interested in starting out jogging. I live in California (northern CA and occasionally southern CA).

Are there any resources / websites that will identify and categorize local exercise and jogging trails by difficulty, such as length of the trail, the inclination, and the surface? Are there standardized metrics for these characteristics?

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I recommend Strava.

It lets you find segments (trails) in your area using your GPS, and they are created and curated by the community, but also moderated by... well, moderators.

It lets you look at segments by length, whether it's flat or hilly, and the level of inclination/steepness. I assume that's what you mean by "difficulty"?

It keeps track of your records, so you can compete with your previous times. It also lets you publish your times, so you can compete with others who have completed the same segment.

It allows you to choose between running/cycling too, in case you want to diversify your training.

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As Atul points out, creating a "standard" difficulty rating is not easy, as people have various level of skills, physical abilities and training. However, this problem applies to any sport that uses trails as a primary pathway. The International Mountain Biking Association has a basic primer on how to try this. Note, they only address technical difficulty, they don't assess elevation gain or trail length as part of it. That is presumed to be only physical, and unrelated to the technical skills needed.

As far as finding places, there are any number of different websites that list trails, some have their own difficulty ranking system, a lot of races, but there doesn't seem to be a single codified source. (Unsurprising, trail running for other than recreation is still a very young sport). I'd try and find a site such as Trails.com or similar that lists trails in your area. Mapmyrun will also have a lot of individually made trails/maps, some may or may not have rankings along with them.

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For trail running I've found All Trails to be the perfect companion. You can find just about any trail, nationwide, and most people rate it (hardness + overall quality of the trial). It's definitely worth the download and try. I think you'll find it useful in your new ventures. Enjoy!

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No. There are no standards which determine the level of difficulty related to jogging or any exercise simply because the level of difficulty varies from person to person in every case.And also, there can not exist a standard specifically for a person because what may be difficult for you might be easy after sometime or somedays because our body adapts it gradually. So it can not remain a standard. A standard has be generalized for all and also can not vary by the period of time. In your case, you should start jogging for some days and should increase the intensity. By intensity i mean to increase the length of trail, to jog on inclined path or to set a time to complete the minimum distance as per your stamina. By the time your stamina will increase, the level of difficulty will be increased by itself.

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  • Of course there can be standards. The length of the trail can be specified in miles or km. The inclination can be measured in degrees relative to the horizontal. The surface can be specified as paved, grass, etc. My question is whether these metrics are actually used to identify parks and trails. Apr 11 '16 at 18:51
  • Practically Not. You have to priortize them yourself by trying each one possible in your area.
    – Atul170294
    Apr 11 '16 at 18:55

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