As a runner living in New York City, you might think it's challenging for me to find decent places for nice run. But the truth of the matter is that there are a ton of hot spots, whether it's in/around one of the city's many parks, or along one of the many waterfront sidewalks.
For about a year, I was a slave to the treadmill, but when I signed up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, I knew I had to start running on uneven, outdoor ground again. (P.S. - Once I started running outdoors again, I was reminded of how infinitely more enjoyable it is this way!)
The half marathon was last weekend—I ran with a few friends/colleagues from our sister mag, Food & Wine—but now I'm craving more. That being said, I want to share a few of my favorite running routes in the city. (And, since I'm an outer-borough guy, they are not all based in Manhattan!)
Central Park Reservoir ~1.6 miles
Smack dab in the center of what is arguably the most notorious park in the world is the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. The body of water spans more than 100 acres and the sporadic duck- and swan-spotting will help pass the time. It's a quick run and extremely flat, so by all means, do a second lap to really get your heart going.
Runner's Etiquette: The trail around the reservoir is modest in width, so please follow the rules and be sure to run in a counterclockwise direction to avoid awkward run-ins, collisions, and angry looks.
Central Park Loop ~6 miles
The road within the limits of Central Park is always—especially on temperate days—chock full of runners, bikers, walkers, and the occasional rollerblader. Running the full loop is a bit of a challenge because of the inclines, particularly on the north end of the park. But trust me: the other runners are great motivators to keep pushing on.
Runner's Etiquette: Be sure to stay in the designated fitness lanes—cars are able to drive along much of the route. Though space isn't as tight as it is in the reservoir, it's best to keep traffic moving smoothly by running counterclockwise.
Dyker Beach Park, Dyker Heights ~2.1 miles
Down the street from my last apartment, this was my daily go-to for a good run. With the rolling green of the golf course, playgrounds, and a fenced-in section for dogs—not to mention, a view of the Verrazano Bridge to the west—there is enough visual stimulus to keep you occupied enough to complete two laps without even realizing. (Don't worry: this is another flat route, so you'll be fine!)
Runner's Etiquette: There's no right or wrong direction to run this one, and the sidewalks are never congested. Just do your thing!
Astoria Park, Astoria ~1.6 miles
Living across the street from the park, this is now my everyday run. Though the sidewalk along the river can get congested in the warmer months, it's worth it for the view and cool river breeze. When you cut through the park at the end, you're challenged with both stairs and slight hills; definitely push through both and then do a second lap. The Manhattan skyline view along the river is worth an encore performance.
Runner's Etiquette: There are lots of people casually strolling along the sidewalks here, so as the runner speeding by, stay alert and be prepared to run around folks. (They shouldn't have to dodge you.)
To map the distance of my runs, I'm a huge fan of MapMyRun. (All the runs above are linked to MapMyRun maps.) Using Google Maps—you can sign up for free—not only can you accurately map running routes, but you can save them and share them with everyone. I highly recommend it for anyone even quasi-serious about running.
So now that I've shared mine with you, tell me where your favorites are! I'm always on the lookout for great hiking/running spots when I'm on the road!
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor at Travel + Leisure.