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Los Angeles and running are a perfect fit for many reasons: “Weather certainly is a factor,” says Ed Avol, founder of the locally based Club Ed Running. “But running is great in L.A. for the people—lots of interesting sights to see! And also [all] of the different courses and challenges, from hills to sand to steps to broad vistas.”
In short, when it comes to running, you’ll never get bored in L.A., and you’ll be blessed with nice, warm weather. What more could you need as a runner? If you’re ready to hit the road, here’s what you’ll want to know.
Where to Go
Los Angeles has a million trails and roads that can fit with whatever you’re feeling: urban or out-of-the-way, flat or mountainous, scenic or simple.
The horse trails through Griffith Park are an urban runner’s paradise, while Runyon Canyon trails are wknown for celebrity sightings. The Strand boardwalk and bike path stretches along the beach from Pacific Palisades to the Redondo Beach Pier, and has some of the best people-watching you’ll find anywhere in L.A.
Avol also recommends the trails and streets along Mulholland Drive (from either the Valley or the ocean side), as well as the neighborhood streets between California Blvd. and Huntington Drive in Pasadena and San Marino. “All are amazing!” he says.
Escape the city feel at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve—a hidden gem that’s usually a peaceful spot, even on weekends. And for a true escape, head west of L.A. for about an hour to Circle X Ranch. The trails there are challenging but incredibly scenic.
What to Wear
L.A. is known for consistent weather, and, compared to the rest of the country. this is definitely true—you can safely put away all rain and snow gear. But you’ll still want to dress accordingly if you’re running in the early morning or after the sun sets versus running in the heat of the day.
Layers are key, as the weather can drop—or rise—quickly with the sun. Your legs will stay warmer than your core since they’re moving more, so add an extra top layer on your morning run; a light jacket or long-sleeve shirt is likely all you’ll need. If you can, plan your route so you’ll have a place to stash unneeded layers midway through. It’ll take away the annoyance of trying to run with a shirt tied around your waist.
How to Get Motivated
Join a club and get instant teammates and coaches, or even a training plan toward a specific race or distance. Some of the best-known options include: the Los Angeles Running Club ($50/year; Santa Monica/Venice), the ARC Run Club (free; Griffith Park), L.A. Leggers ($75/training season; Santa Monica), and, of course, Club Ed Running ($100/year; run locations vary).
If you’d like to keep it even more informal, there are tons of running groups here that tailor to specific areas, paces, and timing.
When to Race
In L.A., there’s likely to be a race near you just about every weekend of the year. LA Races compiled a comprehensive list of Southern California races of all distances. The Los Angeles Marathon is held in March every year, while the Rock ‘n Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon and 5K includes, not surprisingly, thousands of people in costume. Many local runners also head down south to the annual Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Marathon and Half Marathon at the end of May.
And in February of 2016, you’ll get all of the inspiration that you’d ever need when the men’s and women’s Olympic Trials come to L.A. Cheer on the elites and marvel at the seemingly impossible feat of running 26 five-minute miles in a row.
How to Stay Safe
In the wintertime especially, it’s tough to run during daylight hours. “Don’t let the darkness prevent you from running!” says Avol. Instead, follow his three pieces of advice:
- Always assume that you cannot be seen by cars or anyone else when you’re outside. In other words, don’t expect cars or bikes or people to stop for you.
- Don’t run with earphones at night: You can’t hear what’s going on around you, and you need those aural cues. Instead, try singing songs in your head to yourself, and pick songs with a faster beat to keep you moving!
- Run with a friend, run with a flashing light, run with a phone. Or run with all of the above.
Read up on Sneaker Report for information on just about every piece of reflective and safety gear imaginable. Wear it and you’ll be a whole lot safer, with very little effort.