A list of free run clubs in New York City

A few years ago when I was living in DC, I attempted one run with my local Lululemon run club.  I made it three blocks before hiding behind a building and running off on my own (the Great Escape of Lululemon Logan Circle). At the time, running was a space for me to mentally check out. I’d pick a route ad hoc, listen to my tunes and do very much my own thing. I thought a run club would make me a stronger runner, but I wasn’t ready for the discipline that running by someone else’s rules required. (I also didn’t want to wait at a red light, a courtesy you have to extend when running in a city with a group.)

Running on the pier off the West Side Highway
Running on the pier off the West Side Highway with Lululemon Lincoln Square

Older, wiser and more into running, I gave it another go last week with the Lincoln Square Lululemon run club. Runners met at the store and we jogged together to the West Side Highway. Each run club is lead by a Lulu Ambassador. I’m not totally sure on the running background of each of the ambassadors, but Abby (the leader of the Lulu Lincoln Center club) was more laid back than drill sergeant.  She made sure we worked at a level that everyone could keep up. We did sprints up and down Pier by Pier i cafe. In between the sprints we did burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers. Then we finished off with a 2-mile run up the WSH.

The workout changes each week. I’m on the list for the Lincoln Center group and they send an email out the day before with the prescribed run (though it can change day of) so you have a sense of what you’re in for (ie: long run, hill sprints, West Side Highway/Central Park)

I really loved it. I’ll definitely be back.

A run club can help to diversify your running routine and it also encourages accountability ( I mean probably, right?) Below I aggregated a list of all of the free run clubs in NYC I know about for your running pleasure. What am I missing?

Free Run Clubs in New York City (Manhattan)

All links go directly to running group information and not promotional store stuff so click away for more deets.

Most Lululemon stores have one. They let you leave your belongings in a fitting room. You can also change in one of their changing rooms if you’re coming straight from work.

Jack Rabbit (the sneaker store) has a few locations and a few different clubs. They also let you leave your bags in the store and change in a fitting room.

  • The UWS store (140 W. 72nd Street) does a long run (10+ miles) at 8am on Sunday am and a shorter run Wednesday at 6:30am.
  • The UES Store (1255 Lexington Avenue) does a group run on Mondays at 7pm.
  • The Union Square Store (42 W. 14th Street ) does what is described as a fun run (conversational pace) Tuesdays at 7pm and a more hardcore run on Thursdays at 7pm (Runs are 7-10 miles at 9-10 min/mile pace). The Thursday run is informal and no Jack Rabbit staff are involved but they still let you leave your belongings in the store.

New York Running Company stores unsurprisingly also have runs clubs. You can leave your belongings in the store while you run. They also have events where you can test out new sneakers on your run.

  • Columbus Circle Store (Time Warning Building) hosts a more casual run Monday at 6:30pm, on Tuesdays at 6:30pm the run is more of a workout (says the lady on the phone) and Wednesdays at 6:30pm is “Ladies Night”, which while co-ed is I think NYRC code for more of a party.
  • Upper East Side Store (1051 Third Ave) hosts a run Wednesdays at 6:30pm and Saturdays at 10am.

November Project: Every Wednesday at 6:28 am at Gracie Mansion. This is more than just a run, it’s a free workout with some running involved. Ali on the Run wrote about it, so read that for more information.)  November Project meets on Mondays and Fridays at different spots around the city.

Paragon (18th and Broadway) hosts a running group Tuesdays at 6:30pm.

Nike (welcome to NIKETOWN)

  • Flatiron Store (20th and 5th) hosts a number of runs each week. Tuesdays and Thursdays they run at 6:30pm. Fridays at 6:30am, Saturdays at 8am and Sunday beginner runs and info session at 10am
  • Niketown (Flagship store: 6 East 57th Street) meets every Tuesday at 6:30 pm (There is also a run and info session option for beginners and first timers on Tuesday only at 6:00 pm), Thursday at 6:30 pm, and Saturday at 9:00 am (Starting in June, Saturday long runs will begin at 8 am through the summer months).
  • Upper East Side Store (67th Street and 3rd) runs every Monday & Wednesday at 6:30pm and Saturdays at 8:00am

Athleta (Gap’s athletic clothes spin off stand-alone stores)

CitySports stores offer both a 3 mile and 5 mile route each week and welcome all paces.

What am I missing? Know another free run club in NYC? Leave it in the comments so I can add it (I’ll credit you if you like.)

Mission Ride a Bike: Biking down hills, near cars and related tragedies

I went back to Riverside Park and CRUSHED riding in a circle on flat land. I scooted gracefully around all of the little children. I turned, I glided. I did ALL THE THINGS. So when Matt and I made plans to go to the Berkshires I was pretty excited to put my bike riding skills to use.

As my more-experienced-bike rider readers already know: All bike rides are not created equal.

First: cycling topography lesson: riding on hills is different than riding on a flat path. Riding down and up slopes required that I engage the gears of the bike.  Let’s talk about a bike’s gears shall we? It’s the least perfect mechanical engineering I’ve ever learned about. I can’t believe in 2014 this is as far as bike riding technology has gotten. You twist a lever, the bike jerks as it connects with a chain and sometimes resistance increases and other times it lessens. But its not an exact science and I found it startling (gut wrenching). Riding downhill I feared the bike would flip, and more than once attempting to go up hill I found myself slipping down.

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Mission Ride a Bike: Lesson 1

As advertised, I am learning to ride a bike.

Bike riding 101 took place in Riverside Park. For non-New Yorkers, it’s the park where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks meet at the end of You’ve Got Mail.

What’s not pictured in the culminating scene of the film is Tom Hanks’ ferocious beast of a golden retriever whizzing around, taunting me as I wobble precariously on Matt’s mom’s bike.

But I’ll back up.

I was really nervous for my first lesson. A good chunk of the nerves stemmed from the fact Matt was teaching me and I didn’t want to throw the same hissy fit I threw in the early 90’s that got me out of bike riding in the first place.  And my concern was: did I have enough material for an entirely new hissy fit about biking?

But seriously.  I wasn’t sure I could handle failure graciously. I was worried I’d have a hard time learning and that I’d get really embarrassed and frustrated at my failed attempts. But that didn’t stop me from trying.

I met Matt at the park and coincidentally we wore matching outfits. #YOLO


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Going to Barry’s Bootcamp for the first time (in drawings)

So while I’m learning how to ride a bike, I’m also you know, doing other things.

My office is on the same block as Barry’s Bootcamp but since I pay 1.5 million human dollars a month for Equinox, I hadn’t been. I kept hearing that Barry’s is the absolute best body-improving, calorie-depleting workout. So you know, sold. I wanted to try it.

I signed up and went right after work. I entered the studio and gave $34 to a man with a 40 pack and arms the size of Malm 6-drawer Ikea dresser.

Barry's Bootcamp Check-In Guy
Barry’s Bootcamp Check-In Guy

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Mission: Ride a bike

This is part of a “Mission” series where I set a goal and work to meet it. Tips/suggestions/motivation welcome!

This is embarrassing. I can’t ride a bike.

How did this happen?

Let’s harken back to a quintessential childhood moment. If you know how to a ride a bike, you have a memory that likely goes something like this:

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