Tips to Start Your Jersey City Running Season Off Right

May 26, 2016 Allison Goldstein


Springtime is a joyous occasion for runners. No more icy pavement. No more dressing up like the abominable snowman, or battling frostbitten fingers. Spring is when runners renew their commitments to run harder/faster/longer. And even more exciting: spring is when aspiring runners join the ranks of seasoned athletes.

I remember my initiation into the sport of running like it happened yesterday. It was springtime, of course: spring semester of my senior year of college. I’d never run for fun—after years of running as punishment in other sports, the idea seemed preposterous—and yet I was anxious for an activity that would take me outside among the budding trees and thawing snow.

By some miracle, my first run lasted a full fifteen minutes. Then, I spent the next week recovering from sore hamstrings, glutes, calves . . . I think even my ankles were sore. But as I hobbled to and from class, wincing up and down stairs, I already wanted to try it again. If I could already run for fifteen minutes, could I make it twenty?

Eight years later, I’ve made it well past that twenty-minute mark and learned plenty of lessons along the way. Now seems as good a time as any to look at the running season ahead. Whether you’re a budding runner looking to get started, or a veteran anxious to get back into the routine, here are a few tips to start your training season off right.

Newport Liberty Half Marathon. Photo credit Mark Wyville

Newport Liberty Half Marathon. Photo credit Mark Wyville


Get fitted. Professionally. You might think that “a sneaker is a sneaker,” or that buying a name brand shoe is good enough but take it from me: you’re wrong. And if you run far enough in the wrong shoe, there’s a good possibility that you’ll end up injured. Do yourself a favor and go to one of those embarrassing running stores where they make you run on a treadmill, possibly with half the store watching you. It’s uncomfortable, but that feeling is nothing compared to what it feels like to be injured.

Cotton is fine, but think about it like this: why would you confine yourself to a rotary telephone when you could carry a smartphone in your pocket? Sportswear companies make astonishingly lightweight, quick-drying materials these days, and if you shop smart, you won’t break the bank. One extra tip: hold out for pockets. You never know what you’ll need to carry on your run.

Clothes vs. skin is a battle your skin will not win, and it only gets worse the hotter and sweatier you get. Fortunately, there are several remedies, ranging from the home variety (Band Aids and Vaseline), to specialized products like Body Glide. Pick your poison, but definitely pick something, because there’s nothing worse than stepping into the shower post-run with your skin rubbed raw.

The literature on running nutrition is virtually endless. Therefore, if you’re just starting out, my advice is: don’t get bogged down by “nutrient this” and “supplement that.” Just go run. Ultimately, your body will tell you what it needs.

Alternatively, if you’re a veteran looking for a leg up on the competition, consider your hydration/nutrition plan for races. I spent years running races without drinking or eating anything, and looking back, it definitely hindered my performance. There’s plenty of guidance out there for what and when to eat during a race, but my personal rule of thumb is this: for anything over a 10k, make sure you have a plan.

Liberty State Park Path Photo credit Steve Gold. © Jersey City Independent

Liberty State Park Path. Photo credit Steve Gold. © Jersey City Independent


The 10% rule
When increasing your weekly running mileage, never add more than 10% over what you ran the previous week. The reason for this rule is that your body needs to adapt to the stress of more miles, and it can only do that gradually. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out or already running 30 miles a week—if you increase your mileage too quickly, your body will break.

Cross training
Smart runners—and especially the best ones—do more than just run. (This is one lesson that I learned the hard way: through neglect and consequential injury.) Core strength and flexibility are two key areas to focus on, but there are plenty of ways to cross train. Embrace the variety!

This is yet another lesson I learned through injury: rest is essential. You may love running to the point of fanaticism, but your body needs time to recover. Structure your week so that you get at least one or two days of rest; this way your body will have a chance to rebuild itself better, faster, stronger—just the way you want it!

Parks are the easiest (and arguably most pleasant) places to run. No traffic lights, few pedestrians, and plenty of greenery. Jersey City has several good running parks, with Liberty State Park being the most obvious choice. With its sweeping views of the Manhattan Skyline and abundance of criss-crossing footpaths, it’s an ideal place to log miles. (The only trouble is its inaccessibility; the only entrances are either over the Ethel Pesin Liberty Footbridge or via Johnston Avenue.)

The other Jersey City park that is ideal for running is Lincoln Park. Not only does it have a designated runner path circumscribing the park, but for those who are interested in doing shorter, speedier workouts, there is a public track available in the northwestern corner of the park.

One last route of note, while it isn’t exactly a park, is the footpath that runs along the Hudson River. Runners can pick this up at the intersection of Van Vorst and Dudley Street and follow it east and then north, straight out of Jersey City and into Hoboken . . . and beyond!

Buddies, Groups, and Teams
Even for those of us who love it, running can often feel like hard work. Inevitably, there will be a day when you simply don’t want to get out of bed. It’s too early! It’s raining! This is when it’s a good idea to call on other runners for support.

In Jersey City, there are a number of running communities to call on for company, support, and an all-around good time.

Here are a few groups worth checking out:
Jersey City Heights Running (Facebook Group – Open to all Levels)
Jersey City Runners (Meetup Group)
Get Fit JC (Meetup Group – Open to all Levels)

Newport 10K

Newport 10K

For the first few years that I lived in Jersey City, I was under the (mistaken) impression that I needed to venture into the Big Apple to compete in local running races. I believe this misconception exists partly because there’s no singular governing body or central hub for runners here (think NYRR in New York City, or Fleet Feet in Hoboken), but the truth of the matter is that there are plenty of races. The list below includes races from early spring through late fall, but if you know of any that are missing, please email us at info(at) so we can add them to the list!

2016 Jersey City Races

4th Annual Read, Write, and Run 5k
June 11 @ 9:00 am
Liberty State Park
5k race
The Read, Run, Write 5k is a fundraiser for The Ethical Community Charter School. The 5k Run is meant for young and old – kids portion of the race starts at 10:30 am. The race is on a flat waterfront course with the Statue of Liberty in view at every turn. This race is part of the USATF-NJ Gran Prix Series with a 500 point value. Post race festival includes refreshments and kids activities.

McCourty Twins Tackle Sickle Cell 5k Run/Walk
June 18 @ 10:00 am
Liberty State Park
5k race/walk
In support of their Tackle Sickle Cell Campaign, twin brothers and NFL defensive backs, Jason and Devin McCourty are hosting their 4th Annual 5k Run/Walk. The Tackle Sickle Cell Campaign, which is a partnership between the McCourty twins and Embrace Kids Foundation, aims to educate the public, increase blood donors, and raise money and awareness for the fight against sickle cell disease.

Newport Liberty Half Marathon
September 18 @ 8:30 am
13.1 mile race
The Newport Liberty Half Marathon race course offers views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and the stunning Manhattan skyline. The race is USATF certified and offers $3,000 in prize money; proceeds are donated to the Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health.

O’Connell’s Run
September 24 @ 10:00 am
Palisade Ave. (btw Paterson Plank Rd. and 2nd St.), Union City
5k race & 0.5 mile kids’ fun run
O’Connell’s Run started in 2010 in honor of a local boy who has cystic fibrosis. Race proceeds benefits The Cystic Fibrosis Center at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson, NJ.

Carlos Negron Memorial Run
October 2 @ 9:30 am
Liberty State Park
5k race & two mile walk
This 5k run & two mile walk is organized by Jersey City Fire Fighters in memory of Fire Fighter Carlos Negron who died at a 3 Alarm fire on March 20, 1993. Proceeds benefit the St. Barnabas Burn Center.

2017 Races – Dates TBD

Annual Saint Dominic Academy Sprint Thaw Run
Liberty State Park
5k race & one mile fun run
This fundraising run is a fantastic early season fitness check for individuals of all abilities. All proceeds go toward supporting the sports programs at Saint Dominic Academy.

Annual 5k Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer
Liberty State Park
5k race
Hosted by the New York City and New Jersey Chapters of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, this USATF certified run/walk celebrates survivors, remembers loved ones who have been lost to ovarian cancer, and works to increase awareness.

Annual Memorial 5k Run/One Mile Walk for 9/11 First Responder, Captain Mark Lee
Liberty State Park
5k run & one mile walk
Celebrate Mother’s Day weekend with this 5k run or one mile walk, held in honor of Mark Lee, a 9/11 First Responder. Every women and young lady who finishes will received a rose.

JC Kids Run
Exchange Place Plaza
Various age appropriate races for children 1-10 years old, organized by JC Families. 250M walk for 1 & 2 year olds with parent, 1/2k run for 3-7 year olds and 1k run for 8-10 year olds.

JLACF Walk, Run & Wag 5k
Liberty State Park
5k race
This 5k race helps to raise funds for the Joshua Louis Animal Cancer Foundation, which provides financial assistance to help families in need cover the cost of cancer treatments for their pets.

Liberty Lightening 9k
Liberty State Park
9k race
Part of the Armed Forces Day Festival, the Liberty Lightning 9k starts and finishes in the North Field of Liberty State Park with a total purse prize of $4,200 for top finishers in a variety of categories.

Newport 10k
10k race
This USATF certified course is comprised of flat and local roads, interweaving along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway with spectacular views of the New York skyline.

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