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If this is the year you want to pick up a running habit — or take yours to the next level — you're in the right place: New York City has no shortage of stores and tools for hitting the pavement. Start by getting your gait analyzed to find the perfect shoe and end by hooking up with one of the city’s many running groups to push yourself to new personal records, train for your first 5K, or even ramp up for the New York City marathon.
No matter your goals, you can use this guide as a starter kit for running like a champion. As usual, let’s go shopping first.
Running Stores in NYC
Beyond well-known options like the Nike Run stores in Flatiron and on the Upper East Side and flagships for Adidas (in Soho) and New Balance (in Flatiron) are running-focused stores whose sale associates won't sell you on brand name, but rather the best shoe to support your individual needs and fitness level.
Urban Athletics 1291 Madison Ave, Upper East Side (212-828-1906)
Family-owned and run by former Masters Division runner Jerry Macari, this store has the footwear, apparel, and training services to get you going. Browse sneakers from Adidas, Asics, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, Saucony, and many others, plus run-tracking accessories from the likes of Garmin and Timex. The RunUrban training series ranges from beginner programs to marathon training, plus boasts its own competitive running team; prices vary for each program, but all come with the benefits of merchandise discounts and access to group runs.
New York Running Company 10 Columbus Cir, Central Park South (212-823-9626)
The Central Park-adjacent shop offers the usual assortment of Nike, New Balance, Under Armor, Sugoi, Asics and Brooks; a free gait analysis; and snacks for fueling up (think Gu packs and Clif bars). Group runs take place three nights a week, including a "sexy pace" run — usually for 3 to 5 miles in the park.
Super Runners Shop 346 W 14th St, Meatpacking District (212-398-2449)
Super Runners has quite the legacy: Gary Muhrcke, winner of the first New York City Marathon, is its founder. The mini-chain has a podiatrist and 8 certified pedorthists on staff, so those with injuries or arch problems can be sure they’ll get the best shoe possible via custom-fit orthotics made on-site to fit into shoes from, Asics, Adidas, Nike Saucony, Brooks or New Balance. Plus, eight locations across two boroughs means you’re never far from new shoes.
JackRabbit Sports 42 W 14th St, Union Square (212-727-2980)
This is perhaps the most prominent of NYC’s independent running shops, with four locations uptown plus one in Union Square and another in Brooklyn. Beyond the standard gait analysis offered by in-store experts are sports bra fittings and nutrition advice. Group runs, led by expert pacers, leave from the stores multiple times per week. And once you've logged enough miles on a pair, drop them off at the store to donate to its program that's linked with MORE Foundation, assisting rural farmers in impoverished parts of Africa.
Brooklyn Running Co. 222 Grand St, Williamsburg (718-782-7866)
One of the city’s more recent running stores to appear on the scene — and the only independent running store of its type in Brooklyn — BRCo offers free gait analysis and custom fittings, and stocks plenty of apparel and accessories, like foam rollers. Customers also earn a $25 credit for every $300 they spend, and can take advantage of features like discounted custom team apparel, event tee-shirts, and screen printing.
Running Groups in NYC
Some people find that the hardest part about forming a running habit is the thought of going it alone, especially in the cold winter months. But if you join a running group, camaraderie isn't the only benefit you'll experience — you'll be getting access to structured workouts to help you reach your goals, not to mention having the accountability of showing up at a certain place at a certain time, just like you would for a fitness class.
A handful of the city's most-well known groups are detailed below, but this is by no means an exhaustive list — check the New York Road Runners website for more options that may be closer to your neck of the woods or specialize in the type of workouts you're looking for. Prices listed below are annual membership fees, unless otherwise specified.
Run through Battery Park City with a team and without your wallet — no entry fees required! This group is open to all levels and is recreational, meaning that the emphasis is more on getting in a good workout and less on race training.
Meet up: Thursdays at 7pm at the Stuyvesant High School Community Center
This running group offers both competitive and recreational runs to members. Newcomers can try out the team for free for 90 days, and being a member gets you discounts for businesses like Running Warehouse, Powerbar (both 15% off), and Zipcar ($25 per year, instead of $75).
Meet ups: Weekly runs take place in Central Park, Prospect Park, the East River track, and more — check the site for updates.
FRNY largely consists of LGBT-identifying men and women, but it's open to any runners regardless of orientation. It offers a beginner runner series in the spring and summer, with Saturday morning runs designed to train for the Pride run and other races. They also offer fun runs in Manhattan and Brooklyn that aren't race-oriented.
Meet ups: Weekly fun runs in Central Park and Prospect Park, plus training at the Armory Track during the winter and coach-designed long runs starting at various places.
Price: $30, but you can join the fun runs for free
This group is slightly more serious, with most members training for the New York, Chicago, Philly, and/or Disney marathons. But some are preparing for 5K and 10Ks, and the program can help you train for all of the above with Olympian Jeff Galloway's "run-walk-run" method. Membership is a little pricey, but the fun runs leaving from JackRabbit on the Upper West Side at 6:30pm every Thursday are open to anyone.
Meet ups: Member-only run locations not disclosed; UWS JackRabbit: 140 W 72nd St
Price: $159 to join, or $129 for late-start members in mid-June
As one of the oldest and largest clubs in the city, the New York Flyers are open to all experience levels. Group runs take place almost every day of the week, and other member events include happy hours, shoe drives, and training runs in the Palisades. Try the four-mile trial run through Central Park for new and prospective members to see if this club is a fit for you.
Meet up: 72nd Street and Central Park West, or Columbus Circle
This team is sponsored by New Balance and had multiple representatives at the London Olympic Games in 2012 — needless to say, it's one of the most competitive clubs in the city. There are coached workouts twice a week in one of four Manhattan locations. Runners are encourages to attend four workouts before applying for membership.
Meet up: Central Park, the Columbia University track, the East River Park track, or the Armory Track
Price: $160 (student/hardship $65)
The Harriers are a competitive team: Most members can run a 10K between a 5:30 and 8:30 pace. The group recommend attending a workout before deciding to apply for membership — Wednesday evenings are suggested for first-timers, since there are multiple pace groups to join. Membership comes with merchandise discounts at Urban Athletics.
Meet ups: Central Park at Tavern on the Green or the East River track
This group is a recreational running bunch with members mostly in their 20s and 30s meeting at a different bar every Wednesday for a "run and chug" loop. All running paces are welcome, and short-cuts are allowed.
Meet up: Varies by week
Cost: Free, not including pre- and post-run beverages.
This is New York City's premier racing club and organizer many of the city's biggest races, including the New York City Marathon (ever heard of it?), and membership ensures discounted race entry fees. Group training launches this month with morning and evening sessions in both Manhattan and Brooklyn with sessions like "Turnover Tuesdays" (intervals and hills) and "Tempo Thursdays" (straight pace). They're geared to runners of all levels, and divide up groups based on experience. Classes like deep water running and yoga for runners are also available.
Meet ups: Central Park and Prospect Park; bag check is available at every session.
Price: $40 for NYRR membership, then $150 for the eight-week training sessions. A family membership is $60 (up to two adults and two children).
This mid-size running group encourages runners of all paces to join its routes, which are all four miles or longer. There are four runs per week in Central Park, including pace groups for 10-minutes miles down to 6-minute miles on every Monday run. The Saturday runs at 9am off the Bridle Path Bridge are usually followed by brunch.
Meet up: Engineers Gate at Central Park (Fifth Ave and E 90th St)
Gotham City has group coaching and customized training plans. GCR workouts include track and speed work, hill training, and tempo runs that accommodate every runner. Membership perks include discounts for brands like Brooks, Running Warehouse, and Life Factory's BPA-free water bottles.
Meet up: Meeting points include Columbus Circle, the East River track, the Skechers store in Union Square, and the Lululemon store in Cobble Hill.
PPTC is Brooklyn's largest running club, with members of all ages and abilities.
They offer group runs, speed workouts, a club picnic and relay race in the summer, and even swim clinics. Runs take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and distance and pace is determined by who shows up to run. Wednesday runs often loop the park, and end at a nearby bar. A New Member Group Run takes place each quarter to connect newbies with club veterans.
Meetup: The park side of Grand Army Plaza
Price: $25 for individuals, $35 for families
NBR boasts a "low-pressure, social atmosphere," so you'll enjoy a friendly weekly run schedule. There are group runs and track workouts, and many participate in local races as well. Run meet ups take place almost every day in McCarren Park and every Wednesday in Prospect Park.
Meet up: McCarren Park and Prospect Park
This is a recreational running group perfect for Brooklyn exploration and meeting new people. Runs take place on Sundays, spanning three to four miles and ending at a different bar each week. They announce the destination beforehand, in case you want to run there from your point of origin instead.
Meet up: Grand Army Plaza at 3:30pm on Sundays
Price: Free, not including drinks