Running the city: 10 Looks, 5 Destinations

In a recent recipe post about a Tagliatelle pasta dinner, I briefly mentioned how back in the day I used to be a cross country runner. During the season, we often traveled to new cities to compete. The morning before a race, our coach required us to jog the trails to familiarize ourselves with the twists and turns of a new terrain. Now, almost a decade later, I take that cross country mentality with me when I travel to a new destination. I feel like there's really no better way to familiarize oneself with a new terrain than to take off in a full on jog (or even sprint) through the city. 

Jessica Hart, Harpers Bazaar

Jessica Hart, Harpers Bazaar

Ever since I said goodbye to the baggy, polyester cross country uniform of my youth,  I've been sort of obsessed with hunting down the latest "on-trend" running looks from brands like adida's and Nike. I love how they make it easy to transition from morning-run to afternoon-brunch without the hassle of a mid-morning outfit change.

Starting today, a few of my favorite new-city exploring looks (above) are currently 25% off on Shopbop.com. Just use code Family25 at checkout! And don't forget to scroll through the list below of my top 5 picks from Forbes's list of America’s 10 best cities for runners. If you don't see your favorite running-city on the list, please email it to me at whitney@lifestylehunting.com - I'd love to add it!

Chicago

Chicago With its gorgeous 18-mile path along Lake Michigan and flat terrain, Chicago is perhaps the most runner-friendly city on the list. Visit during spring, summer and fall (trust us, you’ll want to avoid the lakefront come winter). There’s no shortage of competition here, either—different races are held on back-to-back days on weekends during prime running season. The social aspect is a big factor in the Windy City, too. Training clubs, local running stores (like Fleet Feet Sports) and the Chicago Area Runners Association (which has a stellar marathon training program) all take to the humming lakefront path for runs and often for beers afterward.

New York City

New York If the size of the New York Road Runners club is any indication, this city is big on running—60,000 members belong to the 50-year-old group. The annual marathon alone is legendary, as it spans all five boroughs and attracts around 45,000 participants (there’s a lottery to get in and some wait years to make the cut). While Central Park will always be a huge draw with its scenic six-mile loop, the city’s type-A athletes can also run along the West Side Highway and the East River. The club scene here is known for serving runners of all levels, from the young and the old to social racers and seven-minute milers.

San Francisco

San Francisco Anyone looking to work up a serious sweat should hit the steep hills of San Francisco’s city streets. But if you’re not into strenuous inclines, you can still run across the Golden Gate Bridge, along Baker Beach, through Golden Gate Park or up the Lyons Street steps (another quad-quivering workout). Other high points include marquee races like the Zazzle Bay to Breakers (it’s a runners’ Mardi Gras), the Nike Women’s Marathon (it’s open to guys, too), and the cool, near-perfect year-round running weather.

Austin Everything may be bigger in Texas, yet Austin’s running community is as tight-knit as a small town’s. The result? Participation runs high with runners taking to the popular Town Lake trail (recently renamed the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail), a 10-mile trail in the heart of the city, as well as the nearby foothills. While the summer heat will test your physical and mental fortitude, it will also serve as an intense training tool that will propel you to your next personal record.

Austin

Boston When you talk running in this town, you talk about the annual Patriot’s Day marathon. It is, after all, the oldest marathon in America and one of the toughest to qualify for each year. But there’s more to running in Boston than racing from Hopkinton to Boylston Street—you can also jog the path along the idyllic Charles River or along the downtown Freedom Trail, which wanders past the city’s oldest and most historic landmarks.