Explanation of Indicators

Throughout my blog, I try to add helpful indicators that I think will be useful to the not-so-familiar with a particular route to get a little more understanding of what they are about to encounter for the first time. This page explains as best as possible what they mean.

Hill Ratio: This is for the folks who are hill adverse. I basically divide the number of hills (any climb of 40 feet or more within a third of a mile) divided by miles run. Basically, the closer to zero this ratio is, the flatter the course.

For example, a run around Central Park has you run up 4 hills (yes one of the Three Sisters on the Westside doesn’t quite hit the criteria of a hill) that fit that description over 6 miles for a ratio of 0.67. For most, Central Park is considered moderately hilly. Also, for reference Cat Hill has an elevation of about 50 feet from bottom to top and Harlem Hill is around 70 feet. Feels like a lot more, right?

CPMR: Short for Cigarettes Per Mile Run. This indicator was born out of a desire to find the best air quality on a run. In New York City, there are many folks hanging out outside their buildings (or simply outside) to grab a smoke. This indicator will give you an idea of how many smokers you’re likely to encounter on a given route. Basically, this is calculated by dividing the number of smokers encountered during a run divided by the number of miles run. 

For example, a CPMR of 0.20 on a 5 mile run means that I encountered at least one smoker during my workout. Put another way, consider running 5 miles and having to breath in second-hand smoke during one of those miles. Doesn’t sound great, right? I think a CPMR of 0.00 should be your preference in every case. In my opinion, I would shoot to run routes that are as close to zero as possible since the effects of second-hand smoke are usually dire for those just sitting there. Imagine what they are when you are actually exerting yourself and are breathing the fumes in deeply!

%RNPS: This stands for Percentage of Run Near a Pollution Source. This is another air quality indicator that I’ve thought about since reading about the negative health effects of living near a freeway. The Los Angeles Times reported on this in 2017 and it is definitely something one should at least be aware of. Folks living within 500 feet of a freeway “…suffer higher rates of asthma, heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and pre-term births. Recent research has added more health risks to the list, including childhood obesity, autism and dementia.” Imagine what exerting yourself on a regular basis within the same distance can do to you.

This indicator basically divides the number of miles that are run within 800 meters of an air pollution source (like an Interstate Highway or busy Parkway) divided by the total number of miles run. Based on the findings of the Times report, you would want this number to be as close to zero as possible for long-term health reasons.

When you stop to think about that, basically every run in Manhattan and the Bronx will be very close to 1.0. The good news is that if you confine your runs to Central Park, you should be decently insulated from the major roadways that circle the island.