Ten of my Favorite Running Routes in NYC

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I’m one of those runners who love discovering new routes and running different courses. As I’ve said often enough, it adds dimension, variety  and an element of adventure to my runs, which is necessary to keep me motivated and running. On the other hand, there are also times that I like the comfort and measure of safety that comes from running in a known area. I think this is one time I can actually eat my cake and have it. This doesn’t happen much outside of running, at least not in my experience, so why not take advantage is what I say.

To this end, running in this city is a lot of fun. There is so much to see: different folks to meet, places to visit, things to do and miles of uncharted running territory to discover. Mind you, uncharted, not because no one has been there, but only because it’s not commonly known and remains relatively undisturbed, though for how much longer I’m not sure. In the name of keeping it so for as long as possible, I aim to highlight the more widely used areas I run in our beautiful New York City.

1. Central Park – at the top of my list and still my favorite place to get in the zone. Aside from its refreshing natural beauty, Central Park is home to hundreds of stalwarts, as well as newbie, runners and is truly the place to inspire and motivate you in the running lifestyle.

2. Cunningham Park – closer to home, this park was first introduced to me a couple of years ago during training for my first Boston Marathon. It gives the illusion of a rural setting and provides ample opportunity for training in a more secluded and nature-friendly setting.

3. West Side Highway – an early morning or late evening treat for the eyes as either the moon sits over the Hudson River or the sun sets against the back drop of Jersey City in the distance.

4. East River Park Track – the athlete’s buzz is here offering motivation to up your running game through various speed workouts as performed by a variety of runners and competitive running groups. Show up on your own or join a group, whatever works for you.

5. Queensborough Bridge – one of the main five bridges in the city, the Queensborough Bridge brings runners and a lot of other traffic from Long Island City into Manhattan and back. Running it both ways and even catching the train on my way to Queens after the bridge run is one of my fun runs.

6. Alley Pond Park – relatively close to Cunningham Park (you can run from one to the other) and another of my favorite running places in Queens.

7. Forest Park – based in Queens, Forest Park has a lot of trails, which is a running favorite of mine. I haven’t been here all that often, which keeps it pretty interesting, but when I get the opportunity it’s always a treat to rediscover.

8. Prospect Park – much like Central Park for running, only not as famous. It’s a bit out of my way to get to on a regular basis but definitely my go-to place for running in Brooklyn and presents a course that I’m comfortable with as it’s home to the beginning miles of the Brooklyn half-marathon.

9. Inwood Hill Park – trails, hills, and ridges abound in this park, which is in upper Manhattan, and presents plenty of opportunities for scenic running with views of the surrounding Hudson River for motivation.

10. George Washington Bridge into Palisades Park – lots of room for building mileage and escaping the city. This is my favorite long run route and can incorporate a full 20 miles to and from the visitors center in Palisades Park if done in its entirety.

Needless to say there are a lot more pretty cool routes like Corona Park in Queens, the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the High Line in the city and for sure I love these too, but overall the above is my favorite of the seven years of my living and running in New York. I’m holding out for more though as I’m told there remains so much more to discover.

I’ve always maintained that New York City is a city in which there can be no middle ground when it comes to feelings. You either love it or hate it: love or hate the noise, the mess, the people, the clash of cultures, the diversity and variety in almost every human element and the effect these can have on the structure and composition of the city. If you find yourself, like I do, learning to love this place then you’ll truly appreciate how wonderful these running opportunities are in a city of this size with such a huge population. In any event, we, as runners living in this city treasure it and like to portray New York as the running capital of the world, which is not too much of a stretch when you consider that every November we run the largest marathon in the world here.

 

 

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Sick With Marathon Fever

imageHow many know it’s marathon season and that no where in the world do you feel it like here in New York City. The way I see it, it begins with Fall and lasts right through November though there is no official advent into what is in fact the most hyped running time of the year. This is due largely in part to the feature running event of the year being held here every November – the newly named, TCS NYC Marathon, a premier running event here in New York and perhaps the world as it is one of the World Marathon Major Series. In fact, it follows the Chicago marathon, which was two weeks ago and the Berlin marathon a couple weeks before that, all part of the Marathon Majors as well.

As a regular New Yorker, one can’t help but get caught up in the hype. The city lives and breathes running, its signs are everywhere: at the subway stations, in the shopping centers, the streets, on the air, everywhere. As a New York runner, it’s a bigger deal, with most runners rounding of their year of training with the run of a lifetime here in New York. Of course there are other marathons around this time as well, like the Philadelphia marathon, rock and roll Las Vegas, Marine Corp in DC and the Nike women’s marathon in San Francisco to name a few, and there’re even runners doing more than one of those. In fact, it’s not unheard of to run from Chicago to New York to Philly, not literally of course, but to take on those three marathons in succession. Whatever the reason, there is a whole bunch of running crazy going on; so much so, that you run the risk ..no pun intended..of company each time you go out for a run. Runners are everywhere: the parks, the busy city streets, the relatively quiet neighborhoods, the gyms, the outer boroughs – everywhere. The air is palpable and the feeling is infectious, everyone knows and a great deal care about the marathon. On Sunday November 2, it is expected 50,000 runners will take to the streets of New York City, accompanied and cheered on by thousands of spectators: members of the running community, family, friends, visitors and everyone else. If that is not in essence a celebration then I don’t know what is.  How to live here and not be a part of that? You either run, get run over, run out of town..kidding..mostly anyhow, or preserve sanity and health and, in the words of New York Road Runners (NYRR), get your run on.

Last year I had the privilege to run amid that 50,000 and what an experience it was. So good in fact, I’m back for more, though not running this time as I had other goals this year. This year I’m part of the spectator/volunteer crowd and think being on the other side should be quite something itself. It’s so cool that last year I ran in wave 2 of the orange coral and this year I get to be an Orange Coral Marshall; in case you couldn’t tell, I’m all about experiences and can I tell you, life is full of them and that is enough reason for living, loving and running.

In addition, I’m thick in the midst of all things running because I’m gearing up for Philly marathon on November 23. Training has offered me the opportunity to run all over the city sure, but it has also given me an insider’s view on how enthused New Yorkers are to this whole idea, rage, sport, fad -call it what you will- it’s real and like I stated above, likened to being caught with a bug, fever and all. Whether it’s 6am or 9pm makes little difference to runners out here, only the rain can cause a decline in their presence and even so temperatures must be low. As the marathon draws near, a week and a half away to be exact, a lot of runners are tapering down as training is pretty much done for this event, though I imagine the ones that are out there are just maintaining form now while others like myself are looking to the next run. In any event, that’s my rationale for the many I see daily on my runs in and around this fevered-marathon city. You can tell I love it here right..I’m the very biased, not-so-subtle aspiring New Yorker.

Summer’s Running Away

 

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Consider that Winter seems like it was just a few months ago..when we were talking crazy-cold-how-do-I-get-my-run-on weather and now we’re running through August, no stop signs in sight. To use my, of late, favorite expression – “What the hell!” Whatever happened to slow down, take time to smell the roses and all that cute stuff? Maybe, I’m just complaining cause I’m preempting what follows summer (to which I will not give a name so as to delay it as long as possible) but really the wisest course to follow would be to abstain from such thinking and do as much running damage as possible, which brings me to the matter at hand.. Summer runs rock!

I don’t know when was the last time we’ve had or even if we’ve ever had such amazing running weather in the summer in New York City! I mean this is the time to run and if you happen to be lucky and you’re in NY, then this is the place to run, and you totally lucked in cause we also have the company to get you out and about in this summer city. Some may complain of the crazy-weather-days where the highest we’ve seen so far is just about 89 and that we have lows in the 50s but this right here is runner’s paradise. It just doesn’t get better than this. And so you want to take advantage of it cause..well..hell, you never know.

Here are some ways to get running in the city that never sleeps for the visitor and New Yorker alike:

Run Central Park. You’ll never find a place more likely to make you into a runner. Running enthusiasts, visitors, sightseers, any and everyone active can be found here..Central Park is New York in action and home to everyone.

Run City Streets. Every summer for about one month, the city opens up some of the busiest  and most popular streets so that runners, joggers, cyclists, walkers, skateboarders and rollerbladers can do their thing. Yep..that’s right. No cars. The road is yours. Where else in the world can you stop traffic at your fancy?

Run with company. The Running Company is just one of the running stores that hosts free runs for running enthusiasts throughout the city. Nike, Paragon Sports, Lululemon and North Brooklyn Runners are some others to name a few. With just a click, join them and you’re in. These groups usually pace out into sub groups so everyone fits in never mind your level. It’s on to keep you fit and fab.

Run official. Do what I did; join a running club or organization that provides days, times and run workouts. Whether it is to train, to get you to your goal or to assume competitive level, such organizations exists with your purpose in mind. These clubs have an annual membership fee upon registration and acceptance; Central Park Track Club, Brooklyn Road Runners, Jack Rabbit and Dashing Whippets are among a host of others that provide the “athlete” runner with the impetus for racing.

Run with Meetup NYC. Throughout the city there are meetup groups happening for runners of all persuasions. For those who don’t know, Meetup.com exists with the sole purpose of bringing like-minded people together so that they can be passionate about whatever they care about. So of course running. And of course in NYC. Get online, join a group, reserve a spot for a suggested meetup run and voliá. You get to run all over this beautiful, crazy city for free.

Run with NYRR (New York Road Runners). Here is the mastermind behind the New York City Marathon, which is run by thousands from all over the world each year. NYRR is a running community that hosts races throughout the year in the five boroughs of New York. Most races can help with your eligibility for the ” big” race but ideally all runners are invited to belong to a community of runners that run and share the New York we know and love. Races are priced for members at a lower rate while non-members can run for a fee, though not all the races. Why not be a New York Road Runner?

Run for fun, for charity, for personal satisfaction. Whatever you decide, you have to take it to the next level. There are so many fun and charity races all over the five boroughs and beyond you couldn’t hide..but why would you want to? Summer in New York, especially this summer, is a time to make a difference in your and someone else’s life. You just wouldn’t be able to wrap it up come September and call it a great summer if you didn’t. There are color runs, mud runs, obstacle races, 5ks for Cancer research, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Kidney research and so much more. Whichever you decide, in any and all of them you can make a donation and make a difference. You’re running anyway right?

Do you doubt that we, runners, have it made? To not only live in the greatest city in the world, but to run the show. New York is not only about The Arts and Broadway and Wall Street and the Stock Market and Fashion and Times Square and Sightseeing and Tall Buildings. New York is about Running. Runners RUN this Empire State.

What’s to love about Running in New York

 

Central Park

Since I’ve neither visited nor run in other countries of the world, aside from a couple of countries in the Caribbean, I’m stepping out on limb here by saying that New York is one of the best cities for running in the world. While this could be a very bias perspective, it is by no means arbitrarily said as others who have run here agree, that this city provides runners of all persuasions with the inspiration, motivation and momentum to, in the words of Nike, ‘just do it.’ Whether you’re a veteran or newbie, aspiring or uncertain, New York makes the decision to run an easy one. And just for added measure, It has also made many top lists including Forbes and The Active Times, as one of the best cities in the world to run.

Some of the best running routes in New York include running in New York City, which is quite surprising given it’s metropolis nature. This busy, teeming concrete jungle is home to the world-famous Central Park; an oasis in the center of the city that boasts some of the most scenic, relaxing and inspiring running trails you could wish for. It’s hardly surprising to find it home to runners from all over the city and even those from as far as Long Island, New York. Other favorites include: Running along the west side highway, the Brooklyn bridge, the Queensborough bridge, the Williamsburg bridge, the George Washington Bridge, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Flushing-Meadows Park in Queens, Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan, Forest Park in Queens, Coney Island in Brooklyn, Astoria Park in Queens and just about everywhere else in the city. For that matter, the city is so runner friendly, it’s not uncommon to see people running on Fifth Avenue and other popular areas among throngs of pedestrians and traffic.

Step outside the city and it’s running paradise heading to the Palisades, and various other trails and mountains in New York State. These are typically my favorite kinds of exploratory runs. It’s nature’s best way of saying welcome to New York. Trails abound for hiking and running in Harriman, Bear Mountain and the Catskills. Closer to home but still outside of the city, Van Cortland Park is a favorite as it’s just bordering the city and goes all the way from the Bronx to Westchester county in northern New York.

While these are many of the places I’ve run, there are still lots of uncovered and undiscovered territories, which makes New York one of the best cities for me and is among the top reasons why I love it here.

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