26.2 — a number that ruffles up so many emotions. At least to those training for a marathon. Finally crossing that finish line after hours of pounding the pavement is a feeling you’ll never truly understand until you’ve done it yourself.
But getting to that finish line requires training. Lots and lots of training. This means you have to go long.
Luckily, Boston’s got a few unique trails that give marathon trainers some variety to really get after those long runs.
The Harborwalk is probably your best option for a long run in Boston considering it’s just under 40 miles long. The gorgeous, waterfront pathway snakes its way from East Boston all the way to the Neponset River and is easily accessible from several T stops around the city. And because this is such a popular cardio destination, there are plenty of bathrooms and water fountains — clutch for those super long runs.
Southie Beaches and Castle Island
When you combine the Pleasure Bay, M Street Beach, and Carson Beach boardwalks, and then tack on the Castle Island loop, you’ve got an almost seven-mile stretch of beachfront running. Plus, this route carries you through Southie’s public beaches, so yes, that means public restrooms. Fitt Tip: Go for your run right at dusk — the twinkling city views make for a memorable backdrop (if the glistening water wasn’t enough).
Boston’s Emerald Necklace is actually a giant chain of nine parks, gardens, waterways, and paths that run through Boston and Brookline. It includes Boston Common, Public Garden, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Back Bay Fens, Riverway, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park. (AKA the perfect escape from city-running.) It’s about seven miles if you run the whole thing, but extra miles can easily be added by branching off in some of the bigger parks’ walkways. And for those going long: There’s a bathroom in just about every major section of the route, as well as ample water fountains.
Charles River Reservation
Obviously, the Charles has got to be on this list. Is there actually anything better than an early morning run on the notorious Charles River? Didn’t think so. But don’t be too discouraged by the popularity of this running destination — the paths are big enough where it doesn’t become too overwhelming, bikers and all. If you start at the Museum of Science, make your way to the Charles River Greenway in Watertown. Circle back, and you’ve got yourself about 16 miles of relaxing, riverside running.
Somerville Community Path to the Minuteman Bikeway
How about getting a little bit out of the city for your next training run? The enjoyably flat two-mile Somerville Community Path weaves its way through Somerville and dumps you onto America’s Revolutionary Rail Trail, or as the majority of us call it, the Minuteman Bikeway. Flowing from Cambridge to Bedford, this 10-mile trail approximates the route Paul Revere took on his infamous 1775 ride, which is pretty cool, because history. Expect plenty of bathrooms, water fountains, mile markers, ice cream…the essentials.
Southwest Corridor Park
Perfect for those shorter-but-still-kind-of-long run days, Southwest Corridor Park offers 4.7 miles stretching from the Back Bay to Forest Hills. You can call it a tempo run. The path follows the MBTA Orange Line, making it a little too easy to end your run early with a quick hop onto the train. But then again, at a mere 4.7 miles, this trail should be a cakewalk (so stay the course!).
Cape Cod Rail Trail
If you happen to be on the Cape at any time during your training (or if you just feel like taking a road trip), take advantage of the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail and get in one of your more lengthy runs. The paved trail route passes through multiple quaint towns, cranberry bogs, sandy beaches, state parks, and visitor centers. Yes, this means easy access to bathrooms, drinks, and food.