El Blog

Run this town

Feature photo by daningram

You have seen them in your neighborhood. Sometimes they are outside as soon as you step out of your door on your way to work. As you stumble, half asleep, to the train or your car, they pass you by with striking ease. In the evenings, they are also there: Still full of energy and still moving faster than you. You may be annoyed by their fierce determination. You may also be secretly envious of their cool steady stride. Regardless of how you feel, they will continue to be out there – Chicago area runners.

Chicago is a running city. With its parks, boulevards, neighborhoods and, of course, the lakefront there are vast options for taking a long jog or heading out for a few sprints. If you want a quick workout without having to feel confined to a gym in summer, you can head down to your neighborhood park. If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can run through Logan Square’s boulevard or from Wicker Park to Pilsen or even along Lincoln Park, stopping in the zoo to catch your breath.

The city’s manageable streets make it so easy to run here that all a runner needs to do is make sure they have their essentials with them before heading outdoors. According to Becki Suthers, Membership and Communications Manager for the Chicago Area Runner’s Association, it is a good idea to get your running in early in the day. If you are an early morning runner or even if sometimes you find yourself running during the warmer part of the day, make sure you have the right clothing. “It’s important to purchase running apparel with wicking material. These clothes will draw the sweat away from your skin. If you exercise in a cotton t-shirt, the shirt will absorb the sweat and stick to your body, preventing the natural cooling mechanisms we all have!” Suthers said.

If you want to start running but are not sure where to begin, try one of the most popular Chicago paths: The lakefront. “The great thing about running is that you can literally do it anywhere! The lakefront path is always popular here in the city because of its great views, water fountains, bathrooms, and easy access. The path is well suited to runners of all abilities,” said Suthers.

If you are a more experienced runner, or even training for an upcoming half of full marathon Suther’s says to consider heading out to the suburbs to hit some hilly routes in Barrington Hills, Palos Heights, or Waterfall Glen in Darien, which are popular for runners. If you want to customize a path before you head out of your house consider using a website called Map My Run which helps runners plan their routes.

To all runners, whether the newbies or the experienced, remember that safety is key. There are many things you can do, but running with someone is a great way to stay safe, said Suthers. “Run with a group! Your mom was on to something when she made you use the buddy system! CARA has training groups available for runners of all ability levels and all race distances…If you must run by yourself, it’s all about awareness. Be aware of your surroundings while running– that may mean leaving the iPod at home. Know your surroundings and let someone know your planned route and expected duration of your run,” she said. For more information about CARA and additional safety running tips, visit their website.

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