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On the Surface of Things: Where to Run

While running on the sidewalk offers some serious safety features, like no cars, Cool Running has ranked it as the worst surface for running. Rock-hard concrete is hard on your joints since it provides zero shock absorption. Ideally, we should all run on grass or dirt trails, which are more gentle on our joints. If you're an urban runner, finding these surfaces for your regular runs can be a challenge. Asphalt is considerably more forgiving than concrete, which is why running in the street is preferable over the sidewalk. Remember if you run in the road to go against traffic, so you can see oncoming cars. I suggest mixing up your surfaces and searching for tracks in your area for at least one run a week. Tracks are great for interval practice too. Where do you usually run?


Join The Conversation
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
I've read this info a number of times and each time, the same question pops into my head: why the heck are sidewalks and roads not made of the same thing? Why aren't sidewalks made of asphalt too??
heatherhas heatherhas 8 years
Actually, I used to run on grass before I moved, now their is no choice for me but to run on sidewalks and dodge traffic/people. Kinda bums me out but I try to get out on the weekends and trail run. The pavement is starting to get to me, I have been running for years and I had knee problems in HS and now they are coming back again. :( My mom has been a lifetime runner and she had knee problems too. So discouraging.
heatherhas heatherhas 8 years
I'm an urban runner too.
Asche Asche 8 years
Oh no, no, no! NEVER run against traffic when running...that is so dangerous! I understand that people think they can then "see cars coming," but it is so much more dangerous than running with traffic. So much so that in the country where I live, a cop will write you a VERY hefty fine for running or biking on against traffic!
margokhal margokhal 8 years
On the street around my neighborhood. When I started running on a track in a park near my house, I pulled some muscles. I need the stability of asphalt.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I used to run on the sidewalk, but it was too rough on my body so I started running in the street (against traffic). It works out pretty well...I can see any cars that are coming and I also stay out of the way of the slow pedestrians that are walking on the sidewalks.
JessaG JessaG 8 years
Normal sidewalk/street. I run on sand a couple times a month to change it up. I know there are trails at my school that I should take advantage of, I just don't.
Renee3327 Renee3327 8 years
I live in Boston and we have several miles of "Harborwalk" which is a series of wooden and concrete walkways that run all along Boston Harbor. I love the scenery of the harbor and the people watching and it's great to smell the ocean air.
laellavita laellavita 8 years
I run the loop in central park, and while asphalt isn't fabulous, it's definitely better than the concrete. Sometimes I run the bridle path, but that's when I really want to change it up, I like the 6 mile loop better than the 4.5 mile path.
papertiger05 papertiger05 8 years
My neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks so it's the street or nothing for me!
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I run on the sidewalk/street if I don't feel like going far for a run, but there are a number of trails within 15 miles of my house if I'm not feeling lazy.
Ayu Ayu 8 years
I need to run about a mile on sidewalks to get to a nice big field. One lap is 3.5 miles or so. When I have more time, I cycle to a nearby hill with forest and then run there for about 6 miles.
runningesq runningesq 8 years
I'm a urban runner, and as much as I love the sights of the city, my body has taken quite a beating... and NEVER AGAIN will I do a 20 mile long run on concrete ! Track = boring for me!
xtinabeena xtinabeena 8 years
on a track/on the grass on the infield of the track
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
Yeah, I absolutely never run on sidewalk. I'm fortunate in that there are some nice gravel trails in the local park. Also, the roads in my are quiet enough that I can run on the road.
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