Running on Vacation: Central Park

I was in NYC earlier this week visiting my best friend from college and her new baby. Tuesday morning before I went home, I made sure to get up and go for a run in Central Park.

Before I left I consulted this map:


Then I read this article about staying safe while running in Central Park. Leave electronic devices at home, they make you more attractive to thieves. Don’t respond to anyone in the park, it can be seen as an invitation for confrontation. Conceal your cell phone if you need to carry one.

I felt like it was Summer of Sam… should I cut my long brown ponytail? As someone who is afraid of her own shadow, reading stuff like this just threw me into a tizzy before I even got there. I decided to bring my phone anyway, where I was away from home. I had a piece of bread with almond butter, grabbed the key, and headed out.

I entered the park and tried to get my bearings. There were roads that were running through the park, cut-throughs for cars, I assumed. But I didn’t see any big running paths, and the map sure made it look like there were big running paths. So I decided to take off on one of the little paths that looked like it was heading south. But then that path went into a woodsy area, and I didn’t feel right going in there. So I went back to where I came in to look at a map and gather my bearings. I was definitely in the right place, and seemed to be going in the right direction. I got VERY frustrated. I decided to sit on a bench and take in the view and cool off.

I looked around and realized that people were running on the streets with the cars. It didn’t seem safe, but I figured they were onto something. And then I realized.

Cars drive through and around Central Park. And people run on the roads. And there are special lanes for runners and bikers.

I felt so stupid.

In none of the movies or TV shows with Central Park do I remember seeing cars in the Park. Charlotte doesn’t run on the road in Sex and the City.


Once I figured it out, it was actually quite enjoyable to run in the park. That recreation lane is very safe, you just have to keep your eye out for bikes. Once you get up to the reservoir you can run on the path right along it, which I highly recommend. Its beautiful.

After running around the reservoir I got off the path and got a little lost again, but by this time I knew to just go to the road 😉 I found an exit and headed back to my friend’s apartment.

Things to know about running in Central Park

  • There are cars. I can’t be the only one who didn’t know this.
  • You can bring water if you want, but there are water fountains everywhere, which is awesome.
  • Unlike on my country road runs, people do not smile and say hi when you’re running 😦
  • There are also call boxes all over the place, which is helpful.
  • You’re supposed to run counter-clockwise around the reservoir
  • There is no “you are here” on any of the maps in the park. You need to be good at reading maps.
  • During the day, I don’t see any problem with listening to music.

If you’re not good at navigating, I would recommend running with a friend. I had trouble, and I’m pretty good with maps and new places. Overall, it was a great running experience, once I figured out where I was. I will definitely be going for another run there on my next visit!


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6 Responses to Running on Vacation: Central Park

  1. kilax says:

    I didn’t know about running on the roads there either! Ha! I would have thought the same because of Charlotte 😉

  2. You are definitely not the only one that didn’t know there were cars in Central Park – I had no idea! I always assumed it was a “park” with nothing but nature and trails.

    And I would definitely take my phone with me – totally NOT safe to run alone in a new place without one if you ask me!

  3. Kristy says:

    I never knew that, cars?!

  4. Haha! I love this post. And it makes me miss my Sunday runs in the park. I will admit that I always ran through the park with my phone. I usually kept it in a pocket, but if it was hot and I didn’t have pockets, it was in my hand. I would rather be able to call 911 in an emergency than not risk getting robbed. 😉

  5. Briana says:

    Ahh, this is a life-saving blog, girl !! I’m so glad I’ve got the heads up from you before I try this on my own (I love the Charlotte picture btw :)). I’m actually looking into a running tour while I’m there. I guess it’s a guy/girl that takes you around parts of the city while running. Talk about stamina ! Anyways, thanks for the heads up. I think I’ll take my iPod 🙂

  6. Pingback: Running on Vacation: Andover, NH | Hit the Bricks

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