City Living can take its toll on our multi-tasking minds and bodies. To counter this toll, many NYC fitness buffs use running to maintain good mental and physical health. The benefits of running have been extolled by science for years. Not only does it boost mood, improve sleep quality, increase concentration, and help maintain long term cognitive functioning, but it also prevents obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Though popular thought would have you believe that running is hard on the knees, recent studies show this is a myth. If you love running, or have been meaning to love running, our Guide to City Living for Fitness Buffs: NYC Running Clubs was written with you in mind.
Joining New York City Running Clubs: The Benefits
Joining a NYC running club is a great way to take your fitness to the next level. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded folks with whom you can socialize; you’ll have access to training schedules based on your goals; and the team’s coach will help to hold you accountable. Most NYC running clubs welcome all fitness levels, so whether you’re aiming to run a mile without stopping, or to run the NYC marathon this year, consider hitting the pavement with these fellow New Yorkers:
Central Park, Prospect Park, Astoria Park, and other locations citywide
Membership Fee Varies Based on Membership; See Website for Full Details
The New York Road Runners’ mission is to “help and inspire people through running.” Not only do they offer the standard running groups’ multiple weekly training sessions led by a coach (dubbed “Turnover Tuesday, Mashup Wednesday, and Tempo Thursday”), but they’ve recently kicked off a free weekly run called NYRR Open Run at parks in all 5 boroughs (click here to check locations and times). They also offer free events for kids all year round through their Rising New York Road Runners program (schedule here) as well as an ongoing series of races and events for people of all ages (schedule here). Check out their series of Virtual Races, all of which are trackable via the NYRR app. Joining the NYRR is a good way to connect with fellow New Yorkers while taking advantage of race discounts. You can also guarantee yourself entry into next year’s marathon by joining the NYRR, as long as you complete the required 9 races + 1 volunteering opportunity or 9 races + $1K donation by December 31, 2018. Check out their complete guidelines.
New York Road Runners also offers the sport of wheelchair racing to anyone between the ages of 7-21 who is dependent on a wheelchair. The program is 100% free and group practices take place at Al Oerter Rec Center, Queens, during the Winter and Spring months; and at Icahn Stadium, Randall’s Island during late summer through the fall. All experience levels are welcome to attend and participate. The group is led by three highly qualified coaches all trained and certified, who together have over 60 years of experience working in para sports for kids. Interested participants can contact Dorian Kail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 212-423-2247, and can check out the website here.
All 5 Boroughs, November 4, 2018
Entry Fee Ranges from $255 for New York Road Runner Members to $358 for Non-U.S Residents
Speaking of the New York Road Runners, they are sponsors of New York City’s annual and beloved marathon, for which the lottery is currently open. The NYC Marathon ad campaign promises it will challenge, empower, thrill, change, and move you, and those who have run it say that very few experiences compare. The positive energy showered on the 50,000+ runners as they make their way between crowds lining the streets of all five boroughs, and the feeling of accomplishment upon crossing the finish line after months of training, all culminate into one of the best New York City experiences that a fitness buff could ask for. If you are looking for a challenging but achievable goal, consider applying for entry into this year’s marathon! The race’s lottery system opened on January 15, closes on February 15, and the drawing takes place on February 28. You can guarantee your entrance into the race by signing up to race and fundraise with the NYRR Team for Kids or by meeting the marathon time qualifications. The list of other charities with which you can race and fundraise opens in February, and any of the running clubs mentioned here can help you train.
Central Park and East River Track
$45 annual fee
If your idea of a good time involves a speed, tempo, or long run followed by well-deserved Happy Hour, The New York Harriers may just be the team for you. They have three weekly workouts, team races, and monthly social events, and they welcome all skill levels from beginners to notable athletes.
Central Park, Prospect Park, East River Park, Riverbank State Park
$30 annual fee
With almost 1,000 members on their Meetup page, the Dashing Whippets pride themselves on being a diverse and inclusive group of runners from all over the city, country, and world. Their website offers training schedules for local races, with weekly updates aimed at helping runners stay on course for race day. Their goal is to help members be the best runners they can be and fulfill their potential as athletes. They welcome runners of all levels, so whether you’re training for your first race or your fifth Ironman, take them up on their 90-day “test-run” before committing and paying your yearly dues.
Central Park, Prospect Park, and Sacred Heart Gym on E 91st Street
$30 annual fee
This 700-member group was founded in 1979 with the aim of creating a social running (and swimming) community welcoming to all LGBT New Yorkers and their allies. For the last 24 years they have run the volunteer water station at mile 24 of the NYC Marathon. No matter your age, sexual orientation, or speed, or whether you’re training for a triathlon, aquathlon, or if you’re just happy to run a mile, Front Runners New York welcomes you. Join them for a fun run on Saturday mornings where you can meet and greet other runners before deciding if this group is a good fit.
$25 annual fee
The PPTC is Brooklyn’s largest running group, featuring membership benefits such as monthly meetings, marathon training, and speed workouts, as well as fun and social non-running events where you can connect with other running enthusiasts.
$35 annual fee
This Astoria-based runner’s group hosts four weekly workouts including a 5K, 10K, speed, and long (choose your distance) runs, all while training for 11 NYC races. All experience levels are welcome and you can feel free to run with the group before deciding whether it’s the right match for you.
Central Park, East River Park, The Armory
$165 annual fee
Although the other running clubs on this list are open to a wide range of running levels, the New Balance-sponsored Central Park Track Club is one of the most competitive clubs in the city. Their mission is to develop athletes for national and international competitions, and their ranks include 10 Olympians, 14 World Championship qualifiers, and over 60 qualifiers for the Olympic Trials and National Championships (check out their best times here). Its 300 members benefit from twice-a-week coached running sessions and they have all been carefully selected through a rigorous application process. To see if this elite running group is right for you, The Central Park Track Club encourages you to join them for four runs before submitting an application.
NoMad, NoHo, and seasonal outdoor runs
Class fees: Single classes run between $25 and $34; Memberships run between $135 for 5 monthly classes to $225 for unlimited classes, or a one year unlimited membership can be purchased for $2,250
This indoor training facility offers treadmill classes led by elite running coaches aimed to give beginners and competitive runners the best techniques and workouts while training side by side. Think of it as the SoulCycle for running: classes offer endurance, strength, and power training through timed intervals, and even make use of kettlebells. Mile High Run Club also offers outdoor running classes from spring through early fall.
If the groups on this list don’t fit the bill for you there are countless other options you can look into. For example, there’s the Lululemon Run Club that meets every Monday evening at 7:15pm, the Niketown Running Club which is based in Midtown East on 57th and a variety of other running clubs based in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Check out meetup.org where there are countless running groups to meet all city living preferences.
Looking for more to do in the city? Maybe after all this running you’d like to brush up a little bit on some quirky culture. Check out our “City Guide to New York’s Must See Offbeat Museums” right now.