2006_10_running.jpgI keep hearing people talk about training for the marathon, I'm wondering what are some good places to run. Not 26 miles or anything, just some fun places or some good running resources.

New York is a great place to run, whether you are a beginner or veteran. Not only can you explore the city in a whole new way, as this Brooklyn runner is doing, but it's something that you can do on your own time, at relatively low cost. There are several main parks in the city that are very conducive to running. In the Bronx is Van Cortland Park, the third largest park in New York city at 1,146 acres. It has been called the "cross country mecca" because of its wooded trails, and it hosts the National Cross Country championships every year. In addition, there is a 400-meter track and you can connect to the Old Croton Aquaduct Trail - taking you to all the way to Yonkers.

Of course, one can't overlook New York's most famous park, Central Park. This is the site of the NY City Marathon's final 3.2 miles and many New Yorkers take advantage of the three different sites for running. The Park Drives circle the entire park, and can be broken into 6.1 mile, 5.2 mile, or 1.7 mile routes. The Reservoir track is a soft surface on a 2 degree slope and is 1.58 miles around. There are three soft surface bridle paths, two that are 1.5 miles and one that is 1.1 miles.

In Queens, there is Astoria Park, which is a bit smaller at 65 acres, but has a track right on the waterfront, and has excellent views of Manhattan and the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges.
Prospect Park, in Brooklyn, has miles of roadways and paths for runners, including the Park Drive which is 3.35 miles. You can also run around the perimeter of the park on the sidewalks, which is 3.75 miles.

If you want to get off the beaten running paths of the parks and map out new routes for yourself, check out the USA Track & Field website, which allows you to search, by distance and location, routes that other people have created. Or you can put in your zipcode and create a new one for yourself. It's a great resource if you are curious how long potential routes are. (Another tip is that 20 city blocks equal a mile).

Both the East River and the Hudson River have paths along them that are relatively flat and have really beautiful views.

There are several running clubs throughout the city, if you can't get any of your friends to join you, or are looking to meet new people. They also offer a bit more structure, which is sometimes helpful for beginners. Links to running clubs are below.

Some basic recommendations for newbies: Go to a running store and have someone help you pick out the proper shoes. You won't regret it, and picking out the right shoes for you is trickier than just grabbing the ones that are the prettiest. Also, start off slow and build up gradually, while making stretching and cross training a priority. Your body will thank you, and you'll reduce the risk of injury and having to take time off to recouperate.

Some running clubs we came across: Prospect Park Track Club, New York Road Runners, Brooklyn Road Runners Club, Nike Running Club, and the Central Park Track Club