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Running routes in New York: an insider’s guide

New York is the original concrete jungle and home to some of the States’ most iconic landmarks and locations. But beyond the hype and away from the tourist hotspots is a city brimming with charm and character that’s best explored on two feet.


Meet your running guide 


Caitlin Philips has lived in New York City for over 14 years. She’s resided in 10 different neighborhoods during this time and run countless miles all over the city. A serious runner in college, she credits New York with reviving her interest in the sport after she slowed down following the completion of her studies. 


“New York is a great place for running because it offers a little bit of everything. It has all kinds of terrain, and there’s lots of variety between the parks and the bridges, the crowds and the quiet areas,” says Caitlin. 


I love running as a way of exploring different parts of the city. It’s taken me to neighborhoods all throughout the city that I wouldn’t have visited otherwise. It’s a great way to cover a lot of ground and to see areas you might miss on the subway or in a taxi. 


“Plus the running community here is huge. It’s really wonderful to be connected with so many others who share a common interest. Part of its popularity here, no doubt, is due to the NYC Marathon – which stretches through all five boroughs.”



Caitlin’s NYC routes: from short distances to long runs  


Caitlin has chosen three routes of varying distances that include some her favorite parts of the city and some suggestions for food and drink that you might want to check out (more info on these places below).  


Each of my routes has something different to offer in terms of scenery, but they also have a variety of technical aspects that help me cover different parts of my training.


“I’ve tried to provide a challenge for runners and to cover some of the nicest spots in the city that aren’t always talked about." 



Running route 1: Fort Greene 



“This is my local 5 km route. It passes by Prospect Park, which is a great place to add on mileage if you want to go for a longer run, and Fort Greene Park, which is small but incredibly beautiful and hilly. It also has a great set of stairs – perfect for helping to build strength or work on your form.


“It also takes you through some pretty picturesque neighborhoods, with classic Brooklyn brownstone and tree-lined streets. I love running this route because there’s a lot of cute cafes and the Bittersweet Bakery. This makes it a great place to finish your run and grab a coffee or a quick bite or maybe hit the grocery store or the flower shop before running back home.”


Running route 1: Fort Greene
See on Strava



Running route 2: Central Park 



“This route is really nice because you hit the hills of Central Park and Harlem before cutting across the West Side Highway, which is pretty flat. It’s ideal if you want to do some natural fartlek training on the hills – you don’t even have to pick up the pace because just running hills will jack your heart rate right up!


“If you want to work on your anaerobic threshold, then check out Cat Hill in Central Park, which is part of this route. And, of course, don’t forget to try and take in some of the cultural buildings as you pass so many historic buildings and amazing museums. It’s always a great reminder of all the arts and culture that this city has to offer.”


“And if you want to take a little break, I suggest you check out Pier i Cafe, which is right on the water. It’s great in summer.”


Running route 2: Central Park
See on Strava



Running route 3: Two Bridges



“I love this route. It’s a great workout because you get both bridges (which have an incline) and the east river track is great for intervals. It also overlooks the water, which is really nice. As an alternative to the traditional loop, I like to cut across the west side into Riverside Park for a view of the Hudson River.


“Plus. the views from the bridges are truly incredible. This is one thing that never gets old about living in New York. Then all of the sudden you’re right in the heart of Chinatown – which is always fun. 


“Make sure to look out for a tiny little side street called Doyers Street. It’s easy to miss, but there’s a couple great dining options that you might want to check out. And if you’re out late, Apotheke is a great bar – another little hidden gem, I’d say.” 


Running route 3: Two Bridges
See on Strava


Caitlin’s top three NYC running rules 


1. Be courteous to fellow pedestrians if you’re running on the sidewalk by giving them a quick shout or by running in single file if you’re part of a group. 


2. If you’re heading to the track to do some laps, use the outer lanes for jogging or walking and the inner lanes for speed sessions. 


3. I’m a big fan of a hello or a wave when I cross paths with a fellow runner or walker – and all the regulars who are looping the park at the same time every day. 



Caitlin’s favorite spots


Want to know more about some of Caitlin's favorite en route spots? We’ve got you covered. And don't forget to click on the names for more information. 


Bittersweet Bakery (Route 1)

Who doesn’t love a good bakery? Serving handcrafted coffee, homemade pastries and sandwiches, as well as a healthy dose of good vibes, this little place puts an emphasis on using fair trade, organic products.


Central Park Food Cart (Route 1)

Simple but effective. This one may not be the definition of a hidden gem but it is definitely worth checking out if you’re in Central Park and in the mood for a caffeine or sugar hit. 


Pier i Cafe (Route 2)

This seasonal outdoor café is located on the Hudson River in Riverside Park South. With lovely scenic views, it’s said to be particularly nice around sunset. With everything from fresh lobster rolls and fish tacos to frozen drinks, they serve fresh food with a focus on using quality ingredients. 


Nom Wah Tea Parlour  (Route 3)

Nom Wah first opened over 100 years ago in 1920. So it must be doing something right, right? Since then it has changed hands and locations a few times, but it has pretty much always offered fresh Chinese pastries, steamed buns, dim sum, and tea. Apparently, it’s also appeared on the popular TV show Law and Order. 


Apotheke Mixology (Route 3) 

Serving medicinal inspired cocktails, this place featured in Time Out New York’s 50 best NYC bars. Potentially worth visiting to check out the decor (as well as the drinks), the word quirky definitely comes to mind. But maybe not directly after a run, as “sophisticated attire” is encouraged.



Caitlin's wearing 


The Weather Jacket
Unchanging performance even in changing conditions. The ultralight and breathable Weather Jacket is ideal for running in the city, in all conditions.
The lightweight jacket for all-weather protection
The Tights Long
Insulating yet breathable running tights for training in cold conditions. Form-fitting, soft and packed with practical features. Put the 'win' in winter.
Comfortable cold-weather tights for running
The all-new Cloudswift
Running in the city demands a shoe that can keep up. The Cloudswift delivers the softest of landings even on the hardest of surfaces. Concrete, conquered.
The ultimate urban running shoe: the Cloudswift


What's your favorite city route?


We'd love to hear about your favorite running route and, maybe, crowdsource an article with a list of our readers' recommendations. So please fill in the form below and let us know. 



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