I’ve been mulling over running a marathon for the last two years. I gained entry to the NYC Marathon for 2015 through a program called 9+1. (How it works: In a calendar year, you run 9 races hosted by the NYC Marathon sponsor organization the New York Road Runners and you volunteer at one too.) Since I sprained my ankle and didn’t run in 2015, I was able to defer guaranteed entry status to 2016, but I sprained my ankle AGAIN December 2015, so I didn’t feel confident committing to the race (which you’re required to do very early in the year).
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.)
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.
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)