The 5 Worst Places to Run in NYC
Let’s be real, we New York running aficionados have it pretty good. Central Park abounds with 843 acres of running trails and paths. (Just so you know, that’s 6% of Manhattan’s total acreage). Why would we run anywhere else?
Well, first, too much nature makes us feel vulnerable. (Just kidding—sort of.) Secondly, we are never, ever satisfied. Isn’t that what makes us New Yorkers?
So you’re in a Central Park running rut. That’s a bona fide medical condition, believe you me. But to every rut there is a remedy, and I think you will find no better antidote than a romp through the streets of New York. It’ll have you begging for Harlem Hill repeats before you can say “Watch out for that_____ (insert: cab, tour group, baby stroller)!”
That said, there are plenty of classic NY running routes that, rut or not, you should stay far, far away from. Here are five runs you can definitely skip, and better places to hit the road instead.
1. Brooklyn Bridge
Gorgeous views, graded incline, and the sense of achievement when you reach the other side—what could go wrong? Well, unless you’re planning on hitting the bridge before the crack of dawn, your morning run is going to feel more like a round of Dodge the Tourist/Angry Bike Commuter With a Whistle.
Better Option: Try the 59th Street Bridge. It’s a bit noisier and hosts its fair share of commuters, but I have yet to see a single tour group. One way across = 3 miles + a little hill workout. Oh, and the views of Manhattan on the way back are spectacular.
2. Times Square
We’ve all been there. The combination of runner’s rut and years’ worth of guilt for not experiencing all New York has to offer. I can hear you now: OMG, I never take advantage of living in the city. I can’t believe I’ve never even been running through Times Square!
I am not sure how much explanation this one needs, but rest assured, Times Square is pure chaos.
Better Option: Sign up for the NYC Half Marathon in March and cruise right through the center of it all, but with the streets blocked off just for you.
3. The East River
Okay, the path along the East River isn’t all bad—there are some lovely spots—but it’s way too unpredictable for a long run. Anyone who’s traveled this route before knows: There is constant construction, noise, and smog from the FDR, and those over-zealous dog walkers. Also, the path is sliced and diced at random, making it impossible to follow in its entirety from North to South.
Better Option: Head to the Hudson for 13 miles of glorious, uninterrupted running from the GW Bridge down to South Ferry.
4. Park Avenue to Union Square
Take a look at your calendar and ask yourself two questions. 1) Is it a Saturday? and 2) Is it August? If you answered no to either of these, then Union Square is probably better suited for the timeless trifecta of shopping, eating, and chilling.
Better Option: Summer Streets (happening every Saturday in August) is when the city closes down Park Ave from 79th Street to the Brooklyn Bridge to honor runners! Okay, maybe it’s not in honor of us, per se, but it sure feels special. Remember, the early bird catches the worm—so get out there before the cyclists, walkers, and skaters take over our holiday.
I’ll admit it: I’ve run here. It’s not something I do on a regular basis, but the energy of the neighborhood almost makes it worth it. Don’t get me wrong, the hustle and bustle will reduce any runner to a walk, but there is so much to take in, you probably won’t even notice. Also, it’s pretty much the only way to get to the Brooklyn Bridge (wink).
Better Option: Unless you’re looking for a hard core workout, just give in to the crowds, and enjoy what will be a unique side note to your workout.
Photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon.
Leah is a world-traveling, chocolate-eating runner who loves to write! Monday-Friday you'll find her solving tough administrative problems at Harlem United Community Aids Center, and on the weekends she spends her time running, cycling, and scoping out the best Mexican restaurants in the city.More from this Author