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The 9 Best Running Cities In the U.S.

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    Washington, D.C.

    How about a little sightseeing with your cardio? That's a given on nearly every D.C. run, especially the 4.25-mile gravel path around the National Mall. You can strategically schedule walk breaks to check out the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol. Or, if you need to escape the political scene, Rock Creek Park is a straight shot north and offers a more diverse landscape and less congestion on the weekends when roads are closed off to cars.

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    Austin

    Austin has a lot to offer its local runners: hilly terrain that fires up the glutes (hey, it's called Hill Country for a reason), plenty of urban and waterfront scenery, and swimming holes when you need to cool off. Try the popular 10-mile Lady Bird Lake trail for long runs, or turn back at one of the many bridges along the route if it's more of a 4-mile kind of day.

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    Denver

    Colorado, the gateway to the Rockies, might not sound like the ideal place to run, but with 300 days of sunshine and winter temps that are easily 20 degrees warmer than in the mountains, Denver can motivate even the most fair-weather runner. Washington Park is a favorite for its wide dirt paths, and Cherry Creek Trail runs right through the city, making it easy to hop on and off where you see fit. Red Rocks Trail in Matthews/Winters Park challenges trail runners with added elevation.

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    San Francisco

    This city is known for mega hills that runners love to hate, and while the city sidewalks aren't super conducive to uninterrupted miles, you can avoid the stop-and-go of traffic lights by running in Crissy Field, Golden Gate Park, or along the (surprisingly flat) Embarcadero. If you're looking to get away from pedestrians threatening to slow you down, the trails at the Marin Headlands are a short drive away and reward you with Insta-worthy views.

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    San Diego

    That perfect weather thing that's always happening in San Diego means there's no need to miss a run because of unfavorable elements. But that's not the only thing this Southern California city's got going for runners: You'll also find trails along the beach in La Jolla, the coastline at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, and the Pacific Beach Boardwalk for those looking to stay closer to downtown.

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    Portland

    The Pacific Northwest is home to the North American headquarters for both Nike and Adidas, so it's clear there's a thriving running culture. Portland Parks and Recreation keeps it going by offering monthly 5K runs from May to October for a very reasonable $5 entry. If you're more interested in running solo (or training to PR in one of those 5Ks), the path along the Willamette River and the 80 miles of trails in Forest Park—the largest urban park in the U.S.—provide plenty of options. 

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    New York City

    You'll never be the only one running in New York City, and that's a good thing if you're a runner who feeds off the energy of others. You can find various running routes through each borough, or go for a quintessential jaunt through Central Park, which never disappoints with its 6.1-mile loop featuring slight elevation gains, open roads to accommodate crowds and runners, and A-plus scenery). When you're looking to mix it up, the paths along the West Side Highway and East River are clutch for flat-surface speedwork. 

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    Boston

    Boston is a runner's city for obvious reasons: the world-famous Boston Marathon attracts 30,000 runners every April. But it's got a lot to offer the amateur runner too, including runs along the scenic Charles River and the Freedom Trail for a jog with a side of history trivia. And when warm weather hits and both of those trails are jam-packed with tourists, locals head to the Emerald Necklace, which connects nine parks with a 7-mile path.

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    Chicago

    The harsh winter winds are no joke, but when warm weather abounds Chicago's 18-mile lakefront path is a runner's paradise. There are plenty of water fountains along the route (though they flow in the summer only), and there are plans to separate the running and biking paths so there are fewer bikers and pedestrians to dart past. Plus, if you do brave the winter elements, you'll be greeted with a relatively clear path that's diligently plowed after each snowfall.