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RUN NYC: NEW YORK’S BEST LOCAL RUN GROUPS

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Gabrielle Kassel

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Whether you’re looking to run along the Hudson, through Central Park, or in the lesser-traveled boroughs, NYC has a run club for you. And that is a great thing if you’re a pavement-pounder who needs a little motivation and companionship to balance the chaos of city life. But finding a running tribe can be overwhelming, we know, which is why we put together this list that’ll help you choose the right club for you.

Ready to lace up and get social? Check out these 17 run groups in NYC.

MEATPACKING DISTRICT RUNNING CLUB

@dani_ellemariespence | Instagram

What happens when the rad company Icebreaker and Sports Center at Chelsea Piers join forces? A weekly free run club through the Meatpacking District and along the Hudson. For the run, you’ll head to Pier 46 for some dynamic stretching and introductions. Then, you’ll split into two groups—by ability and experience—for either a long and short run, both of which will stick to the scenic Hudson River pathways. After the run—which will last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on distance groups—there will be perks waiting for you at Icebreaker including drinks and snacks, and even a 20% discount on merchandise. While we can promise you’ll catch a nice river breeze mid-run, we can’t promise you won’t drop your day’s pay at Icebreaker.

SHACK TRACK & FIELD

If the mere thought of running makes you crave greasy food and beer, say no more. Shack Track and Field hosts Shake Shack’s free community runs that meet on the second Tuesday of every month. Open to all ages and abilities, runners have the freedom to choose between a self-paced run along the West Side, or a group-led jaunt from JackRabbit’s Union Square location. And don’t worry, they’ll transport your gear from the shop to the Shack for you. All routes end at the Battery Park Shake Shack. Of course, the faster you run, the sooner you’ll be sipping your complimentary post-run beverage and deciding what kind of burger to splurge on.

NIKETOWN RUNNING CLUB

Nike Running | Facebook

Whether you make your home in the UES or Tribeca, you’re training for a 5k or 26.2, or are looking to hit a seven-minute mile or 10-minute mile pace, Nike+ run clubs are for you. This free pump & stride club happens every day of the week from each of the Manhattan locations. If you’re looking to jump (or should we say stride) in, check the weekly schedule on Sunday at 3pm and log onto nike.com/nyc to sign up for the workouts you want to participate in. Typically, the schedule is as follows: “Home Runs” on Wednesday, which have three-, five-, and seven-mile options, and “Long Runs” on Sundays, which are perfect for half and 10k training. Bonus: These Nike+ Expert-led sessions will score you free Gatorade, sports bars, and bananas at the end of every run.

JACKRABBIT

JackRabbit | Facebook

EFC is huge in LA—where it started—but it landed in NYC in 2014 and has been spearheading weekly Wednesday runs followed by “No Shower Happy Hours” at downtown bars. Throw on your mandatory glow stick bracelets and neon-green team shirt, then head off on the three- or five-mile run option (depending on enthusiasm and fitness level) and meet back up at the bar to celebrate, chat, and chug. If hump day is a busy day for you, then get in on Sunday Funday for a group workout with partners like Barry’s Bootcamp and YogaWorks to add in some cross-training.

LULULEMON

@lululemonnyc | Instagram

With lululemon stores in every Manhattan neighborhood, it’s not surprising that the brand has become a hub for city workouts and runs. Most stores in the city host free weekly runs that are lead by store ambassadors you probably already follow on Instagram. The coaching is quality, the energy is solid, and there’s almost always free salad at the end of the runs thanks to their partnership with sweetgreen. Plus, they email you the day before with what to expect before each upcoming run. That means you’ll be able to map the route ahead of time and cancel the plans you accidentally made.

ELECTRIC FLIGHT CREW

@electricflightcrew | Instagram

EFC is huge in LA—where it started—but it landed in NYC in 2014 and has been spearheading weekly Wednesday runs followed by “No Shower Happy Hours” at downtown bars. Throw on your mandatory glow stick bracelets and neon-green team shirt, then head off on the three- or five-mile run option (depending on enthusiasm and fitness level) and meet back up at the bar to celebrate, chat, and chug. If hump day is a busy day for you, then get in on Sunday Funday for a group workout with partners like Barry’s Bootcamp and YogaWorks to add in some cross-training.

RESERVOIR DOGS

The Reservoir Dogs NYC | Facebook

10K- and half-marathon-lovers, this one’s for you. This multi-level club meets four times a week to run routines in Central Park that are all four miles or longer. Yearly membership is only $35 and perks include a member-only message board, guided training programs, team swag (who wouldn’t want a shirt with “Reservoir Dogs stitched into it?), and discounts to several local running shops. Fitt Tip: join them for their fun run on Saturdays at 9:30am around Central Park (and prepare to stay for brunch after). And if you jive with this pack, join and commit to their Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday runs that depart at 7:30pm.

THE MOST INFORMAL RUNNING CLUB, EVER

If you like running, high-fives, and free workouts, this very casual running group might be the next best thing for your 5k (or 10k, or half marathon… you get the picture) PR. Hosting speed workouts along the East River on Monday nights, tempo runs leaving from Union Square’s JackRabbit location on Thursday evenings, and a morning bRUNch run on Saturdays leaving from Brooklyn Roasting Company, all meetups are inclusive and designed for all paces and running levels. The group meets rain or shine, and is always the cheap price of $free.99!

FRONT RUNNERS NEW YORK

Front Runners New York | Facebook

Throw on some rainbow and lace up your sneakers to join LGBT runners and their allies on Tuesday night at Prospect Park… or Wednesday night… or Saturday morning. Known as one of the most welcoming run groups in NYC, FRNY welcomes runners of all speeds, ages, abilities, and orientations. The train track sprinters, middle-distance runners, ultra-marathoners, and those who have their eyes on the Pride Run that takes place every June. But everyone has the same goal: have fun. For your first run with Front Runners, join their Saturday fun run—their best-attended—plus, most gather for a social post-run bagel in the basement recreation room of Rutgers Church. Oh, and you can even join their runs right from work because they’ve got a bag drop.

BATTERY PARK CITY RUNNING CLUB

Battery Park City Parks | Instagram

Meet up at 7pm at the Stuyvesant High School Community Center every Thursday without having to worry about the weight of your wallet. There’s no entry fee, the group is open to all levels, and is completely recreational, meaning the crew is there more for a social workout than race training. So, lace up and prepare for a 45-minute jog along the waterfront parks of The Battery. Fitt tip: if you get there a little early, the programming leaders will lead you through a dynamic warm-up.

DASHING WHIPPETS

New York Road Runners (NYRR) | Facebook

With the best name of all running clubs in NYC, this group offers both competitive and recreational runs to its 900+ members. Newbies can try out the team for free for 90 days, and then you’ll pay $30 a year to run with this diverse community. If you’re turning your nose up at the fee, perhaps learning that being a member gets you discounts at Running Warehouse, PowerBar, and Zipcar will change your mind. Weekly workouts take place all over the city—Central Park, Prospect Park, the East River Track, and more—and are organized on Meetup. Some of these events even include post-run happy hours or barbeques, post-race brunches, and post-track workout coffee.

GALLOWAY NYC RUNNING CLUB

Galloway NYC | Facebook

Attention marathoners, this run club is for you. Most members come aboard to train for the New York, Chicago, Philly, or Disney marathons. And yeah, memberships are a little pricey at $159 for the year, but you’ll learn the Olympian Jeff Galloway run-walk-run method. Fun runs go down starting from the JackRabbit on the Upper West Side every Thursday at 6:30pm and are open to anyone. That means you have ample opportunity to try the crew out before dropping the cash and joining for real. The group’s goal? Get you the glory of a PR without the pain of an injury. Winning? You bet.

RUNURBAN WITH URBAN ATHLETICS

urbanathleticsnyc.com

A group out of NYC’s premier running specialty store, these guys are the real deal. The clubs training programs are designed by Jerry and Cara Macari (big names in the NYC running scene, both having earned the title “Master Runner of the Year”). And there are programs for everyone on the running spectrum: the marathon runners, the form fanatics, and the solo runner looking for some one-on-one coaching. While the store doesn’t have a set schedule or routes that anyone can drop into on a whim, they do have 10-week programs you can enroll in. And as every athlete knows, training doesn’t mean much without proper nutrition. So, it’s a good thing UA teaches people how to have a happy, healthy relationship with food as they train their way to a PR.

TEAM MHRC

Take The Bridge | Facebook

Whether you’re an ex-college tracklete, looking to run your best 5K, or doing a marathon for the finisher picture, Mile High Club is the studio for you. As New York’s first treadmill training studio for runners, MHRC’s classes are designed to help you increase your speed and endurance, all while protecting your body and preventing injury. But more competitive runners should check out Team MHRC, a running club for anyone looking to compete in races (of any distance). While it might sound intimidating, the community is just that, a community. So go on, run-lovers — toe the line with them.

NORTH BROOKLYN RUNNERS

@northbrooklynrunners | Instagram

This Williamsburg and Greenpoint running community is no joke, hosting several runs a day of varying paces, distances, and levels. Their go-to commutes include McCarren Park, Prospect Park, and all over the Williamsburg Bridge. Think: sunrise bridge ’grams, weekend coffee runs, and Sunday long runs for those marathon trainers. While it’s free, the club’s no joke. The flow and order of their runs throughout the week mimic a training plan, its members finish lots of races, and it has been ranked as one of the best running clubs in years past — for good reason.

ORCHARD STREET RUNNERS

@rodgerkisby | Instagram

Ditch your headphones and meet on Tuesday Nights at 8pm (sharp) for a longer loop with Orchard Street Running. These nightowls mean business; each week they take on six, eight, sometime 10+ miles through the streets of Manhattan. If your legs can handle the long stretches and running in the streets makes you feel alive, you’ll fit right in. Fitt Tip: leave the headlamp at home or risk looking like a newb.

QUEENS DISTANCE RUNNERS

@queensdistance | Instagram

Looking to crush halfs and fulls, log mad miles, and make friends while doing it? Check out this completely free long distance club to pump your way through Queens parks, sidewalks, and bridges. If you like to plug your headphones and run solo, this squad probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a community of Brooklyn and Queens-livin’ NYC-ers to run, brunch, and drink with, QDR is it. Wooed by membership benefits (we know we are)? You’ll be happy to know that discounted rates at Running Warehouse, massage therapy studios, and for race day photos are just a few of the money-saving perks.