Best NYC Running Clubs
By Anisa Arsenault
People who claim to hate running really just hate running alone. As a member of a collegiate track team, I know I would bail on cold long runs or brutal hill workouts without the support of my teammates. A running partner turns an act of one into a team – and that team transforms suffering into solidarity.
Training partners provide accountability. Waking up for that 8 AM practice or hitting that 6-minute mile split on a tempo run becomes more manageable when you’re doing it for, and with, someone else.
As I face the final year of my track team days, the fear of an identity crisis looms. Who am I without my teammates? How will my days be structured without practice and meets? How will I push myself in my training? Lucky for me, NYC far outpaces other cities when it comes to running clubs.
Whether you’re looking to join a competitive team or meet up for casual jogs, here are a few of the most popular New York running clubs and how you can join.
Central Park Track Club
Where: Central Park, the Armory
Fees: $125 per year
I have my sights set on CPCT. It seeks focused and disciplined runners without the exclusivity or commitment of more elite clubs like NYAC. Central Park Track Club differentiates itself from other running groups with its coached workouts twice a week, including interval workouts on the track at the Armory, Colombia, and East River Park. Practices generally take place on Tuesday and Thursday nights. This club is not for the casual jogger: it is subdivided into road, distance, mid-distance, sprinter, jumper, hurdler, and thrower groups.
New York Road Runners
Where: Central Park (plus several other convenient Manhattan locations)
Fees: $40 per individual/year, $60 per family
The 40,000 members of the New York Road Runners comprise the premier running club in the city. If you’ve done a road race in the area, there’s a good chance the NYRR organized it. Their biggest claim to fame is the New York City Marathon. This organization offers training programs, adult and child coaching programs, and cross-training classes. A major draw is the discounted entry fee in NYRR-sponsored races. Experience level ranges from beginner to super-advanced. Register for running classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays for speed training, intervals, hill workouts, and tempo runs, adding intensity to your running routine.
The Dashing Whippets
Where: Prospect Park, East River Park, Central Park, etc. (decided daily on MeetUp.com)
Fees: $20 per year
With almost 800 members and a sponsorship from Brooks, the Dashing Whippets is an up-and-coming club. It formed in 2009, and prides itself on the diversity of its members: runners from all over the world and of all different skill levels. Training sessions occur almost every day at various locations to accommodate the hundreds of members. Runs and social outings are organized on a website called Meet Up. There are multiple pace leaders for the groups, as well as expert coaches and training plans for distance, mid-distance, and sprint groups. The group will often have post-run barbeques or brunches.
Jack Rabbit Sports
Where: Union Squre, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Brooklyn
Fee: Free – $315
This triathlon and yoga store has locations all over New York. Running programs are offered in various places (displayed on their website) on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings. This company also utilizes Meet Up. Beginner Runner Level 1 costs $145 per year, while the Marathon Training Program is a hefty $315. Ten different coaches lead these programs. Jack Rabbit does not have a racing team, focusing instead on brining new athletes into running, cycling, and swimming. For those who do not want to sign up for a specific coached program, free runs (and yoga!) are available from the store locations.
Where: 6 E 57th St, New York, NY
At 6:30 PM every Tuesday and Thursday or 9 AM every Saturday, the Nike Running Club hits the streets. Anyone can meet at the Niketown store, drop off a bag, and head to Grand Army Plaza to stretch. Before the runs begin in Central Park, runners are broken into groups based on mileage. Nike Pacers lead each group. You can even test out a new pair of sneakers for free during these runs.