Running Culture in NYC

By: Natasha Bassalian  |  October 2, 2016

running-girl-nycNew York City is home to an abundance of unique experiences. Each individual possesses specific interests and hobbies that, when pursued in this vast and plentiful city, can lead a person to new and wonderful discoveries. One might love restaurants, biking, painting, visiting art galleries, dogs, soccer, or yoga: and there is something for them here. Entire worlds encompass any category one may think of, and people are passionate and united in their devotion and interest to whatever it may be. The running culture of NYC is no exception. The pavements are home to frantic walkers, occasional strollers, fearless pigeons, and the sweaty, panting runner. Aside for the brave inner city runner, the river side edges of Manhattan are pulsating with runners at many different hours of the day. 

As a city resident, the soaring skyscrapers and stinky garbage bags can often be suffocating. The riversides along the east and west can be a sweet escape from the mayhem going on within. New York is full of contrasting environments. The peaceful tree-filled parks sit in opposition to the wild, car-filled streets that surround them. The inner space of a coffee shop or restaurant can be so enchanting, but one always has the knowledge that outside, traffic lights are changing and cars are beeping. Running along the East River past First Avenue, or along the Hudson River past 11th Avenue truly allows for an all encompassing peacefulness to take over.

I wake up early in the morning, a good while before class starts and often with the breathtaking sunrise, excited to hear the sound of my own footsteps. I run down 34th Street with the rising city, interested to see the few human beings up and about at such an early hour. My eagerness is appeased as I reached the beautiful waters and the emerging sun. I make a left and run consistently, surprised and invigorated to see the occasional passing runner. As the sun rises higher, more and more runners pass me from every direction. I feel an odd sense of community with these anonymous individuals. None of us know each other, but we are all connected by our mutual activity. I may see a passing man moving with such vigor that I feel inspired to move faster. I often challenge myself to “race” against the person running ahead of me, which is a fun imaginary activity that forces me to move more quickly. I enjoy viewing the workout attire on everyone too, as it adds to the communal feeling.

Similar to the East River, the West Side is also home to running life. The atmosphere may even be more intense than on the East Side. The path is wider and the runners are more plentiful. I have only ran there in the afternoons, close to sunset, and it seems to me that New Yorkers enjoy the evening runs even more than the mornings. There is a path devoted to bikers and runners, alongside a regular wide footpath directly next to the river. I once again feel the sense of community surrounded by sweaty people running along the path, all the while with a beautiful view of the Freedom Tower in the distance.

The overall atmosphere of passionate runners along the sides of this small yet wild city, all on their personal paths but sharing the same space as me, makes me feel a part of something larger than myself. I get to enjoy the bliss of exercise outdoors, yes: but I also find myself feeling a part of the running community of New York.