Every city has its own vibe, but New York City has a pulse unlike any other. People come from all over the world to try and take a bite of the big apple in some way, and runners definitely want to be a part of it! Being home to the world’s largest marathon, it’s no surprise that runners come here often to test their fitness and see many of NYC’s famous landmarks.
Whether you’re just visiting, recently moved there, or have lived in this concrete jungle for years, finding good places to run where you won’t be interrupted by throngs of tourist or stopped at every street and avenue by traffic lights is necessary. We’ve rounded up our favorite places for you to run in New York City below with a little help from one of it’s running-coach locals, Coach Kai.
Realistically, have you run in New York City if you haven’t gone for a run in the most visited urban park in the United States? It’s obvious and everyone is expecting it but with very good reason:
- It’s huge (840 acres)
- It’s scenic (hello gardens, flowers, zoos, lakes, and everything in between)
- It’s challenging (rolling hills for days)
- It’s easier to avoid crowds and traffic lights so you can really let your legs fly
On top of all of that, you’ve got so many options within the park itself:
There are “The Loops”, which are sections of Central Park Drive. The longest (the “Full Loop”) is around 6 miles (10km) and the shortest is 1.5 miles (2.5km). What makes Central Park even better is that it is closed to traffic 24 hours a day so you need not worry about being hit by one of those iconic, yellow taxis.
If you want to get off of the pavement for a while, you can run the flat reservoir path or the slightly rolling bridle path. However you decide to mix and match the various options in the park, you are sure to have a spectacular run.
Coach Kai’s Top Tip: “Use the two Northernmost hills for repeats. Whether you’re sprinting up or down, make sure to engage your core, keep your arm drive strong and your breathing controlled”
BATTERY PARK AND THE EAST RIVER RUNNING PATH
If views of iconic NYC landmarks is what you’re after, then this is a route that can’t be missed. Running along the Hudson you’ll have plenty of time to take in a clear view of Lady Liberty, not to mention all the public art along the way. If you fancy a longer run, follow our route and throw in a fantastic brunch at World-famous Chelsea Markets
Coach Kai’s Top Tip: “If that distance isn’t enough get a little extra distance and elevation by incorporating two iconic NYC bridges”
If you are jonesing for a run that’s more birds chirping and treetops than horns blaring and skyscrapers, then making the trip uptown to VanCortlandt Park is definitely worth it. Cover more than 1000 acres and with 14 miles of paths and dirt trails to explore, this will be a great place for your Sunday morning long-run. If you fancy some speed work, there is a 400m track for you to rip around.
Coach Kai’s Top Tip: “The back hills have more than enough space for those extra miles and/or elevation! Perfect for your NYC marathon training”
THE WEST SIDE HIGHWAY TO RIVERSIDE PARK
Running the Hudson River Greenway, which runs parallel to the West Side Highway provides a stunning view of Jersey City, particularly at sunset. It’s about 6.5 miles (just under 10.5km) to Riverside Park.
If you want to get in a nice long run, you can keep going once you’ve reached Riverside Park. The full loop of the park is about another 6 miles (9.5km).
You’ll be in good company on this run, with plenty of other fitness enthusiasts sharing the space. This park is ideal for speed work thanks to its wide, straight paths. You will also find a set of stairs near 125th street if you are looking to change things up with some stair sprints.
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE TO PALISADES INTERSTATE PARK
This run isn’t exactly in NYC, you start by crossing the GW Bridge into New Jersey and run on the other side of the Hudson - but this route is so special we will let it slide!The bridge itself is about a mile long, but once you are on the other side, you’ve got a 2500 acre park to run around in! If you run the main loop plus the bridge, you’re looking at about a 20mile (or 32km) run! There is plenty of opportunity to modify the distance as you see fit. This is another route that’s perfect for anyone wanting a mini escape from the noise of the city and feel totally immersed in nature.
PROSPECT PARK, BROOKLYN
With so many options in all 5 boroughs of the city, it’s hard to decide which routes should be included! Prospect Park was one that we couldn’t skip, however. This is Brooklyn’s largest greenspace with 585 acres to explore.
The perimeter loop is just over 3.5 miles (just shy of 6km), but you can wind through the different paths in the park to add on time and distance.
If you are expecting a flat easy run, however, you will be mistaken. Just like Manhattan’s Central Park, Prospect Park is all rolling hills.
Coach Kai’s Top Tip: “If you want a real challenge, tag on this downhill extension to the Rockaways”
Though pretty far from Manhattan, the boardwalk on Coney Island offers a lovely 5 mile (8km) ocean-side run that could turn into a full day-trip of beach and carnival rides in the summertime. The boardwalk can get busy in the summer months, but it is open all year round. A quiet winter jog along the boardwalk may just be the break from tourists and pedestrians you need.
With 8 miles miles (13km) of bike and pedestrian paths to explore, this is a great spot to get away from traffic and the noise of the city. The only vehicles you will have to contend with are the shuttle buses!
There is also a track there with a pretty great view of the city to distract you from the pain of speed work.
Just note that running here will be tricky when they have events like Cirque du Soleil or Lollapalooza on so be sure to check the island’s events schedule before heading out.
We recommend starting on the UES and heading up the East River pathway, next to the FDR, to Randall’s Island. You can make it as long or short as you like!
So whether you’re a native New Yorker looking for some outdoor #fitspo or only in town for a few days, check out some of these fantastic routes! We promise you won’t be disappointed.
Don’t know where these places are? Check out our little map below for where the routes are. You can also join New York Midnight Runners so you don’t have to run these alone!