But before you lace up your sneaks and run outside for the first time, there are a few ground rules you should know. Safety is important, especially in a city a bustling city, so we asked running experts from the best clubs in New York City to share their advice for running outside.
Ahead are the tips you need to know, from New York Road Runners (NYRR); North Brooklyn Runners; Dashing Whippets Running Team; and Natalie Johnson, a NASM-certified trainer and running coach. Whether you're running for the first time or are signed up for the marathon this weekend, this helpful info will keep you on track.
Stay on the beaten path.
Don't just "wing" your running route; be familiar with where you're going to go before you head out. Luckily, there are tons of set running trails and paths that you can try in New York City that are well lit and populated, so try those first before you go rogue on the streets alone.
Keep one earbud out.
If you usually use a playlist to help you zone out on long treadmill runs, then running without music might sound like torture. But when you're running outside with headphones, it's harder to hear cars, cyclists, and other runners. So, if you absolutely have to run with music, keep it on low or only wear one earbud. Definitely leave the noise-canceling headphones at home.
Run against traffic.
In general, you should run against traffic so you can see the cars coming toward you. You should also be predictable — in other words, don't just change direction abruptly. Drivers may not be able to see you, or react quickly to sudden changes, so it's important to stay as visible as possible.
Pass on the left.
Before you pass someone, take a second to check that it's safe and that you have plenty of room to get around them. Alert the person that you're going to pass them by saying some version of, "On your left!" Also, make yourself easy to pass, and don't run more than two people abreast, especially if you're running on a track. Patience is important, too, so accept that you might be stuck behind someone for a few seconds.
Don't run in the bike lane.
There's an unspoken rule that bikers don't tread on runners' turf, and runners don't tread on bikers' turf. Make sure you're not actually running in the bike lane; there should be clear markings that delineate which is which.
Sounds obvious, but while you're trotting along you might forget to look up and at your surroundings. Rely on your senses for good situational awareness, and be alert to what's happening around you.
Find a group.
If you're skittish about running alone, consider running with a group or running club. In NYC, for example, there are tons of free clubs that are welcoming of all levels, and can provide a social, supportive, fun experience. Usually they host organized runs during the week, and you don't have to be training for anything specific to join. Not sure which one to try? You can search based on your location and level on the NYRR website.
Tell someone where you're going.
Send a text to let at least one person know that you're headed out for a run and about how long you think you'll be. (If you are running a race, it's also a good idea to share your bib number so your friends and family can track you in real time.)
Don't write off the treadmill.
Sure, running inside on the treadmill is not as fun as running outside, but if for some reason it's too dark to run or you feel weird running alone, consider going to your gym loggings some treadmill miles instead.
Make post-run plans.
Plan to meet a friend at a specific time after your run. If for some reason you don't show up at the specified time or location, they'll know something is wrong and can seek help if need be.