Now that I’ve moved to Brooklyn, I feel comfortable sharing the routes I most frequently ran while living in the Upper East Side. These five routes range from 3-6.2 miles and all loop through Central Park. I’ve run each of them countless times while training for races over the last 2.5 years. If you live in New York, I hope they inspire you mix up your routine. If you live elsewhere, keep them in mind for training while visiting the city. I’m planning to run from Brooklyn to Central Park during marathon long runs to get my fix this fall.
Lower Loop — 3 miles — This short loop is great for people watching, since it passes by Bethesda Terrace, Sheep Meadow, and Columbus Circle. On the other hand, foot traffic is heavy on the weekends. There’s a short hill at Mile 1, followed by a half mile descent and another half mile climb.
West Side Out-And-Back — 3.5 miles — This route passes through The Park on the 72nd Street Transverse before exiting on the Upper West Side. While exciting Central Park, you could loop through to see Strawberry Fields. Next, run across the Upper West Side to the Hudson River, then loop back. The trip out is a gradual climb, and the return is a gradual descent.
The Met to The Reservoir — 3.5 miles — This route begins running up Park Avenue, then turns left on 83rd Street to run directly toward the entrance to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Take the 83rd Street entrance to The Park and run toward the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. There are great views of the Midtown skyline around Mile 1.5. Loop back on to East Drive and coast 50 feet down Cat Hill (part of the NYC Marathon route) to exit The Park.
Middle Loop — 4 miles — I ran this route more than any other through Central Park. Enter at 72nd Street and turn right to climb Cat Hill. Run behind The Met, then loop around The Reservoir on the running path or bridal path below. Enjoy the rolling hills and lake view on West Drive before taking the 72nd Street Transverse back to the Upper East Side.
Outer Loop — 6.2 miles — This is a popular training route for New York distance runners. It’s also incorporated into a few NYRR races. Enter Central Park at 72nd Street (or anywhere on the loop, but always run counter clockwise). Follow the outer loop of The Park. You will hit major hills at Mile .5, Mile 2.5, and rolling through Mile 3. Add an extra mile or two by looping around The Reservoir on the way out and/or back. The Outer Loop is a beautiful overview of the entire park.
I’m now working to become familiar with new running routes in Brooklyn. So far, I’ve included Dumbo and the Manhattan Bridge. I plan to run the other bridges into Lower Manhattan and to explore Prospect Park during marathon training. If you have recommendations for Brooklyn routes, I’d love to hear them.