Pushing yourself to get out the door for a cold weather run isn’t easy—and it certainly isn’t always fun—even for dedicated runners. Yet pounding out all your miles on a treadmill this winter isn’t an appealing option either. Winter running in NYC takes some preparation, but, once you get moving, it's a wonderful way to get a workout and enjoy the season of less crowded roads and trails.
Dress in layers—a base layer, insulating layer and a top layer to fend off the elements. A hat and gloves are essential for holding in body heat, plus are easy to remove for quick temperature adjustments. Also, dress so that you are a little chilly at the start of your run—you'll warm up as soon as you get moving! If there's a crisp breeze, begin your run by heading into the wind, and finish with the wind at your back.
Here are some fun options to encourage you to get fresh air miles as the temperature starts falling. Hint: The camaraderie that comes with joining a group, meeting a friend, or signing up for a race makes winter running endurable and even enjoyable.
Find a Running Group
Open Run is a community-based initiative that helps local volunteers bring free weekly runs to local neighborhood parks all over New York City. Meeting up with a friendly pack of encouraging faces will help you forget how numb your nose is. All Open Runs are free, open to all ages and experience level, and are between 2.5 to 3 miles in length. The runs cycle through a number of New York’s best parks. You don’t have to register or do anything other than show up, and you can bring your stroller and your dog.
The New York Road Runners are hosting a series of these Open Runs this winter, including Run for Life --Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn (Dec. 24 at 7 pm); Run for Life - Astoria Park in Queens (Dec. 26 at 8 am); Run for Life - Brooklyn Bridge Park (Dec. 31 at 7 pm).
If you are in the Bronx, check out the Van Cortlandt Track Club. They run at the 400-meter track in Van Cortlandt Park and have group road runs as well.
Tri-Run-Live LLC runs an 8-week winter strength and speed running workshop on the Upper West Side in Central Park for folks who can comfortably run 3 to 5 miles.
Find a challenging race or novel event
Check out the calendar of races organized by King of the Mountain Events. They have one race challenge a month scheduled through May at sites across Staten Island. To get you started, there is a 5k in Bloomingdale Park on January 16 and a 10K at LaTourette Park on February 20.
When all else fails, let the beauty of a snow-covered Central Park inspire you to get out the door. NYCRUNS is sponsoring a 5- and 10-mile Cocoa Classic on January 10 through Central Park. The course consists of one or two loops of the park, cutting through the 102nd Street transverse. And the post-race festivities will, of course, include mugs of hot cocoa—which is actually an ideal recovery drink for winter runs!
You can also finish the year on the right foot with a New Year’s Eve run through Central Park. Nelson Aspen’s Central Park Sunrise Running Tour is a 6-mile, early morning jaunt that will take you past the Jackie Onassis Reservoir, Strawberry Fields, Sheep's Meadow, "Harlem Hill," the famed Egyptian Obelisk and a whole bunch more on the last day of the year.
Talk about a jump start—the Long Island Parks Office is holding a series of four 5K races throughout January at Long Island’s best state parks. Races include Heckscher (January 10), Robert Moses (January 17), Caumsett (January 24) and Jones Beach (January 31). You can sign up for individual races or the whole series.
If you want a little mystery—and humor—with your run, checkout the Frozen Winter Trail Run just over the Hudson River in central N.J. This off-road “hash” event organized by the Rumson Hash House Harriers will take you through some rough terrain in the woods and marshes in South Middlesex County, NJ. The trail will be marked in flour—yes, the kind you cook with!