We are lucky to live in a neighborhood with so many options to stay fit. I love sampling the many boutique fitness studios that have popped up in the area. However, landing a spot –especially during peak times– can feel a bit like scoring a table at Rose’s Luxury: Worth the effort but requires planning and sometimes stress– something I like to relieve while working out. I’ve run in every ward and it has been a great way to discover the art, history, and heart and soul of the District. The only possible drawback to running in DC is the amount of times I stop to take pictures because the city is photogenic!
The following are a few of my favorite routes that are fun, safe and runnable from Capitol Hill.
For newbies, runners with kids, and runners who need to stay close to home (think telework day or kids home alone), Lincoln Park is an ideal choice. The loop around the park is slightly under one half mile. It’s a safe bet any time of day, as there are always people out and about. An added bonus is Wine & Butter Café & Market (formerly P&C Market) is just off the park on 11th street for post-run stop for coffee and croissants. (one loop: ~0.5 mile)
No run is more spectacular than the National Mall. Where else can you get a history lesson on the run from the founding of our country to the present day in less than one hour? It is also possible to pop in and see a Picasso or Pollack on a bathroom break at the National Gallery!
From Lincoln Park, run down East Capitol Street to the National Mall. Continue up the Mall to 15th Street and run past the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson, FDR, and MLK Memorials. Cross Independence Avenue to the Lincoln Memorial and run along the Mall passing the World War II Memorial and Washington Monument. Run past the museums and up Capitol Hill returning on East Capitol Street to Lincoln Park. (round trip: ~7 miles)
Head for the Hills
The foundation of my group training programs and my Boston training is the weekly hill workout. I affectionately refer to Wednesdays as “humpday hill day.” Hills build strength, speed, and good running form. You can either opt for hill repeats or take a gentler approach with running loops around the 1.1-mile perimeter of the Capitol Complex. The Independence side of the hill has a slightly higher grade and elevation gain than the Constitution side so I prefer to run down Constitution and up Independence for more of a challenge. This is also my go-to route when it snows, as it is usually clear. I once completed a 20-mile training run for a marathon during Snowmageddon because it was the only nearby route cleared of ice and snow. While it may not sound appealing, the spectacular snowy views and safe conditions made for a most memorable and enjoyable run. (one loop: ~1.1 miles)
Track with a View
Track workouts are great for building strength and speed, but most of our local tracks are restricted for school use. What’s a runner to do? Make the city your track! I love the patch of Mall between 4th and 7th streets. The gravel path that hugs the center green space is a perfect half-mile loop. If you need to run quarter mile loops you can cut through half way by the steps to the front entrance of the National Gallery. I find this much more enjoyable than running on a traditional track as the views are spectacular and tend to distract from the fact that I’m working so hard! (one loop: 0.5 mile)
Off the Beaten Path
Did you know that there is a Titanic Memorial in DC? Neither did I until I accidentally stumbled upon it while running around the southwest waterfront. It bears a striking resemblance from the scene in the Titanic film in which Kate Winslet stands arms outstretched at the helm of the ship. I would later learn that the memorial was erected in 1931 with donations from women to the Women’s Titanic Memorial Society in honor of the men and boys who gave their lives to save women. On the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a group gathers in period dress and gives a champagne toast.
From Lincoln Park, run down East Capitol Street to the National Mall. Continue up the Independence side of the Mall and turn left on 7th Street SW. Run along the wharf and waterfront until you “dead end” at the statue. (round trip: ~5 miles)
If you’d like to run these routes and others with a fun group, please join me as I lead the DC Road Runners training program for the Capitol Hill Classic 10K starting Saturday, March 24 at 9 a.m. We will meet every Saturday for eight weeks at Summit to Soul on Barracks Row. All are welcome and families are especially encouraged. Sign up for our weekly run party here.