Running Philly for Beginners: Guide for Success
As many active Philadelphians know, there’s less than 8 weeks until the Broad Street Run.
On Sunday May 4th, runners will embark on the largest 10-mile road race, starting at the Central High School Athletic Field, passing the legendary City Hall and finally ending at the Navy Yard.
While I’ve always been an avid runner, this will be my first time competing in a race (excluding my short lived cross country career in 7th grade). I’m scared, excited, nervous and electrified all bundled into one.
How I have been preparing to conquer my racing fear? Running outside, of course! In training for the Broad Street Run, I’ve been hunting around the city for the best routes. Through my “field studies,” I have come to a consensus.
Here are my 4 favorite Philadelphia outdoor running routes:
- Kelly Drive: If you’re looking for a relaxing long run, Kelly Drive is the place to go. You won’t be bored on this scenic 8.45 mile loop, filled with many statues, gardens and the beautiful Boat House Row. My favorite part? If you’re feeling good, you can channel your inner Rocky and finish your run up the famous Art Museum stairs.
- Rittenhouse Square: Short on time? Work in Center City? Sounds like the Rittenhouse Square loop is right for you. One lap around the lively park is about .35 miles, and is a great idea if you’re looking for a good speed workout. You can extend your run by choosing your own adventure around the surrounding streets.
- Lapping City Hall: If you’re a Temple Student like me, the City Hall ‘loop’ is an easy run to fit into your schedule. The distance from Broad and Oxford to City Hall and back is about 3 miles. If you have time once you hit City Hall, explore Walnut Street for some speed window shopping and kill two birds with one stone.
- Ben Franklin Bridge: Night runs can be great, especially when they’re on the Ben Franklin Bridge. Start off on 5th and Race and venture across to Camden and back for a gorgeous, well-lit, 3 mile run.
If you prefer outdoor track running, these are open to the public:
- Franklin Field: When the Penn track team is not practicing, you can take a run in the oldest NCAA stadium in our very own city. Check the University of Pennsylvania’s website for open track hours.
- Bok Field Track: South Philadelphia Communities Civic Association oversees this track, open to the public from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (10th Street and Bigler Street)
- Penn Charter Track: This East Falls track is open to the public at 6:45pm during the week.
Philadelphia Running Clubs
If you’re new to running, 10 miles can sound impossible; I felt the same way before I embarked on my running career. Luckily, Philadelphia is home to some of the best running clubs in the area.
Here are 5 great clubs that will help you catch the running bug:
- Team Philly Race Training: This club was created to support all runners in training for either the Broad Street Run in the Spring, or the full/half Philadelphia Marathon in the fall. From the first timer to the second time marathoner, Team Philly Race Training will provide you with a training manual, weekly e-mails and tips to help you cross the finish lie.
- South Philly Striders: As one of the few early morning running clubs, the South Philly Striders is open to all members, without a membership fee. With runs ranging anywhere from 2-10 miles, the Striders is a great way to begin your running career.
- Walnut Street Run Club: Join the Walnut Street Club for an enjoyable workout every Thursday at 6 PM. Hosted by City Sports, enjoy a free membership to all!
- Valley Forge Striders: Calling runners of all ages, abilities and levels looking for a dose of the great outdoors! The Valley Forge Striders welcomes all on any of their seven day group workouts in the beautiful Valley Forge Park.
- Fairmount Running Club: Voted best running club of 2012 by Philly Hot List, this club not only meets for weekly runs, but social outings including post-race tailgates and “no shower happy hour.” With both morning and evening workouts, the Fairmount Running Club is a great way to get to know local, Philadelphia runners.
Fellow runners, what are your favorite places/ groups to run in Philadelphia?