Friday, November 20, 2009

Run Crown Heights!

Nostrand Park declared this past week Crown Heights Health Week, and I wanted to sneak my two cents in before it ended. Their coverage has touched on everything from where to find healthy eats to the city's latest report on the dismal obesity statistics in Central Brooklyn, and something particularly near and dear to my heart, running in the neighborhood. As a thoroughly addicted runner , I wanted to make a case for running/walking/jogging in Crown Heights--it's a great way to see the neighborhood and get some exercise in the bargain.

There are lots of numbers and studies to throw around about the value of physical activity, but the simplest statistics are the best. According to several surgeon generals, past and present, a moderate amount of exercise--defined as 15 minutes of jogging or running or 30 minutes of brisk walking--most days (4-6) per week produces significant benefits to your health. Benefits include considerable reductions in the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and depression. The best thing about running and walking, of course, is that you don't need a pricey gym membership, expensive home equipment, or even other people to join you for a game. You can get a run in any time, anywhere. Many of the folks I work with tell me that they'd run more, but it's frustrating to not know how far they are going and they don't have a track nearby. I completely agree, which is why today I'm offering a beginner's guide to running Crown Heights!

- The area has some lovely streets for running (I covered my favorites in a post last spring), and the easiest way to get started is to just step out your door and hit the pavement. Though the neighborhood grid isn't as perfect as Manhattan's, it's not bad for measuring your miles. 18 short CH blocks (between the places/streets) will give you one mile, as will 7 long blocks (between the avenues). You can do an out-and-back or a loop--for instance, if I need an extra mile after a run, I can just head up to Eastern Parkway from my place on Dean and back down, or I can go over to Bedford, up to Sterling, and back down Franklin (the distances aren't perfect, but they're close enough).

- If you prefer to do your jogging amidst the trees and shrubs of Brooklyn's parks, I've mapped out three of the main loops at local parks above. Six loops at Brower Park will give you a mile, as will 4 loops at Mt. Prospect Park behind the Brooklyn Library. Lincoln Terrace Park is a hilly challenge, but you can get a mile running on relatively flat ground by covering the loop in the third image 5 times. If you want more, the daddy of them all, Prospect Park, is 3.38 miles around on the main park road. If you enter the park at Empire and Flatbush and turn right once you hit the main road, you'll soon come upon the starting line for a 5k, after which the road is marked every 1/4 mile. Those in search of a fleeting moment of woodsy solitude can wander into the trails in the middle.

- If only a track will do, Boys and Girls High at Utica and Fulton has morning hours for the community. You can also venture westward to Brooklyn Tech's track at Vanderbilt and Fulton, or south to Wingate Park's 5-laps to the mile track (the others are quarter-mile ovals).

- I tend to lay out my runs with Gmap-Pedometer, a handy little site that lets you draw out routes and tells you your distance and lots of other useful stuff (calories burned, etc). It's how I made the maps above.

If anyone has a suggestion for a great Crown Heights run, post it here. The weather is supposed to be perfect this weekend, so get out see your neighborhood. If you see a big dude lumbering along in a yellow, shirt, give me wave!


  1. Wow, what a coincidence that I bumped into your blog this morning. I happened to have been the Race Director of the 5K in Prospect Park you are referring too. If you ran one of the races thsi summer I hope you had a good time.

    The Prospect Park Track Club has measured the loop in the Park a few times and we count it as 3.35 miles, not 3.38. It does not really matter because 3 hundredths of a mile is from where your kitchen table to the bathroom.

    Anyway, you (and your readers) might want to know that the Prospect Park Track Club has group runs every Saturday at 8am, Sunday at 9am and Wednesday evening at 7:15pm, all at the Park entrance at Grand Army Plaza. We are also offering a beginners runners workshop for a few more weeks.

    Everything is free and for more details click on

  2. I woke up early this morning and couldn't get back to sleep, so I went out for a run. This is weird for me, as I usually go running in the afternoon or evening. These posts about different and exploratory routes has really gotten me excited about breaking with my normal running route.

    However, for those thinking about park loop routes, here's mine. This route is about 4.1 miles total according to gmap pedometer, starting near my building on Eastern Parkway near Bedford.

    I start on Eastern towards Grand Army, into the Prospect park, right turn onto the main the loop to Center Drive, through Center Drive back onto the loop out of the park at Grand Army, and back down Eastern Parkway.

    I like Center because it gives that nice woodsy illusion. In fact it does so well at providing that illusion that a couple of weeks ago I ran through a movie/tv shoot being set up there, with a fake car crashed into a tree, and fake Nassau county police cars surrounding it. For extra woodsy illusion, stay on the horse path, but watch where you step.

  3. that car crash was for Gossip Girl.

  4. Thanks for the tips and the comments. I'll add that when I run to and around Brower Park I go around the whole block, including the Children's Museum. I like it because it's a longer lap than that little loop on the inside, but I'm still not interrupted by crossing the street.

  5. Thank you so much for a few ideas to change up my monotonous running routine!

    I think the correct site for the prospect park Track club is

  6. Oh, crud. I am on the Board of the PPTC and I typed the name wring :(

  7. Thank you so much for posting this. I just moved to the area and was searching for different tracks in particular-I'm getting bored of doing outer and inner loops around Prospect Park, as lovely as it is. I can't wait to try some of these!