When training for the New York City Marathon, every single weekend of your life is mapped out with a running schedule. So it is extremely important to get creative when you have one of these long training runs. NYC has an endless amount of parks and running paths. However, that can be different for each person based on where they live or what they want to experience on their runs. Due to its busy streets and lack of green space, running in Manhattan has its challenges. And when you have 20 miles to run, it takes even more planning!
Feeling tired of the same mundane runs, we wanted to do something different. We’ve done training runs in the past over the Brooklyn Bridge–hello overcrowded and tourists everywhere. So we decided instead of heading to Brooklyn, we would stay in Manhattan and see how it goes.
Important tips for running in Manhattan
- NYC does not have mile markers, so it is important to plan the entire route out BEFORE your run and not think you can just figure it out along the way.
- Water is not very prevalent and the sanitation of public water fountains is shaky at best, bring your water with you. We typically use a hydration belt for this.
- 20 miles is a long training run, bring your snacks as you would for the big day. No new stuff on race day! Since this is often the longest training run before the full marathon, make sure to bring everything that you would on race day.
- The day we did this route it was cold and rainy. The weather in New York can change on a dime, so be sure to layer and dress appropriately.
The Route Description: 20 Mile Run in Manhattan
We went along the Hudson River Path and made it under the George Washington Bridge to find the little red lighthouse. This is such a cool little NYC site that many people do not know about. It is a great spot to stop for a quick picture and a drink of water!
After the lighthouse, there is an incline to get back on the path–these inclines are absolutely critical in training for the Marathon, the more, the better–and we eventually made it into Washington Heights and Fort Tryon Park. This park is gorgeous and is an ideal spot to see some puppies and usually find an engagement photo shoot happening as well. It is also where The Cloisters are located, so it would be a great place to stop if you are doing a shorter run. This park is a short part of the run but a really enjoyable experience, even more so in the fall because of the foliage.
From there, we headed back on the streets and made it into Inwood, another neat little neighborhood. Manhattan has expanded a tremendous amount within the past 10 years, and now there are fun bars and restaurants all over the main strip on Dyckman Street.
We then proceeded through a few streets–not too busy either–into the next part of our run, Inwood Park. On this cold and rainy day, we felt like we had this park to ourselves. We continued on the paved paths and made it into the main area of the park. It was wooded but with great water and train views along the way, this is such a beautiful and serene little park. Fun fact, this is the only old growth forest on the entire island of Manhattan! After we did our loop here, we started on our journey home.
The journey home is always funny on these long runs, you are so tired that it feels like you’ve been running for days. That’s why it is especially important to change it up on the way back! This time, instead of going back past the little red lighthouse, we went up and onto the George Washington Bridge running path. This gives absolutely iconic views of NYC. It is worth it in spite of the incredible amount of exhaust fumes coming from the bridge. We only went half way but so cool!
To finish our run, we went back to the Hudson River Path finishing through the northern section of Central Park and ended in the Upper West Side.
As always, check out our running map below!
Route Broken Down by Mileage
Miles 0-4: Up the Hudson River path to the little red lighthouse
Miles 4-9: Backtrack on the path to the streets, North through Fort Tryon to Inwood
Mile 10: Take the lower path in Inwood first along the Hudson for great river views. Then turn around and run back to the Pedestrian Bridge
Miles 10-12: Crossed pedestrian bridge over the train tracks to get to the wooded paths through Inwood. This was especially beautiful and quiet, lots of fall foliage, and great views of the Hudson River. The path looped around the top tip of Manhattan, then back into Inwood closer to the streets.
Miles 12- 16: Streets lead to the George Washington Bridge. We ran halfway across the bridge, then turned around and ran back. A really busy bridge, but the views are well worth the cars, noise, and exhaust.
Miles 16-20: After the bridge run back down through the streets to get to Central Park. Enter at the 110th St entrance on the Northwestern edge of the park and do a short loop to finish up.
Sites seen along the run:
-Little Red Lighthouse
-George Washington Bridge
-Only old growth forest in Manhattan (Inwood Park)
-Fort Tryon Park – could stop here and visit The Cloisters
-Central Park, northern section – The Conservatory Garden
Where to Eat Near the Run’s Finish (Upper West Side, Manhattan)
Xi’an Famous Foods, 2675 Broadway between 101 & 102 st
The best way to end a long, cold, and rainy training run? Delicious hot noodles! on 102nd and Broadway, on this day, you saved the two of us. Spicy Lamb Noodles, Vegetarian Dumplings, and a Lamb burger make everything else right in the world.
Saiguette, 935 Columbus Ave between 105 & 106 st
The most legit Bahn Mi’s we’ve had stateside, and you can get one for under $15. They’re huge, a great calorie booster for after a long run.
Sal & Carmine’s, 2671 Broadway between 101st & 102 st
Not our favorite slice in the city by a long shot, but still pretty good. The hours here are weird, they seem to close when they feel like it, but the pizzas are fresh and tasty if you make it there in time.
Super Tacos, 97th & Amsterdam
On the contrary to the above, this IS our favorite taco spot in the city. Granted it’s a block from our old apartment so we spent many a late night there, but we would travel far and wide to eat here. After years as a truck that pulled over by the subway on 96th St., it has recently turned into a brick and mortar. We haven’t tried it yet.
Not feeling a heavy meal post run? Weird, but who are we to judge. Grab a pick-me-up coffee at one of the awesome spots mentioned in this post by Girl With The Passport, many of which also have small delightful bites, in Manhattan.
Take a nice hot shower and relax after this one! Finishing a big run like this also gets us so excited, it means the big race is coming!!!