It’s (Usually) Good to Run in Los Angeles

by Carilyn on April 17, 2012

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was frustrated by the lack of open road to run on.  In Texas, I was used to miles and miles of unfettered river levee and roads to run on for as long as I chose.  In the Big City, things are very different.  It seemed I couldn’t go anywhere without having to stop every 50 feet for a traffic light, train, or crazy driver.  (And why do the drivers here feel the need to honk at EVERYTHING? Scares the crud out of me. Sheesh!)

But after awhile, I figured out where to run and how to get the most out of training in a place like this.  After two years, I now know why it is (usually) good to run in Los Angeles:

1.  If New York is the city that never sleeps, then it is out partying with Los Angeles :).  No matter what time of day I run, the city is always awake and bustling.  Now, the people who are out doing the “bustling” may not be people you necessarily want to keep you company, but you won’t be alone, that’s for sure.

2.  Most of the scary things you see while you are out running are probably just movie/television/commercial sets.  I can’t tell you how many times I have come upon an overturned car, a person covered in blood, or a “crime scene,” only to discover that it is just part of Law and Order Los Angeles, or an insurance company “car wreck” television commercial.  Whew!  Glad to know fake disasters are a thriving business in Southern California, and not just fake body parts.

3.  Because there are so many things constantly being filmed here, if you want to be a star you can probably just “run” yourself into a spot as an extra.  Opportunities for fame abound here.  I have actually been asked several times to fill in a scene, and once spent a day as an extra in an upcoming Jessica Alba movie, all because I was out and about at the right time. Unfortunately, most of the time I’m a sweaty, hot mess, so I think they are probably casting me as a deranged serial killer and just not telling me.

4.  California is famous for having great parks and public spaces.  While it has been hard on the state’s budget, it is a dream to run in places that almost always have water fountains and bathrooms.  I think there is a bathroom about every 10 feet in the State Parks here,  a very wonderful thing for a woman of a certain age.

5.  Just like with the bathrooms, you can’t get more than a block in Los Angeles without hitting a Starbucks – another much appreciated benefit for this runner (and necessitating the use of #4).  The people of LA seem to really appreciate a good cup of coffee.

6.  Everyone runs here.  Or at least works out.  A lot.  You can walk around at any time of day in sweats or running clothes and feel perfectly chic.  Love it!

7.  Because all the fitness enthusiasts need places to engage in their favorite activity, there are more gyms per capita in Los Angeles than any place in the world.  Okay, I made that statistic up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true because there is a gym next to every Starbucks.

8.  If you are not a gym rat, your running will still have plenty of ways to improve because of all the other outdoor activities you can find in and around LA – outdoor swimming year round, open water swimming, kite surfing (okay, I’m not doing that, but you might like it), tennis, golf, rollerblading… The list is endless.  This is outdoor sport heaven.  You can cross train you little heart out.  And if you drop dead, there’s probably a doctor on the golf course, tennis court, or rowing machine right next to you.

9.  It’s a racer’s’ paradise.  If you like to race, there are multiple races every weekend in which to take part.  But this also means that everyone else is racing too, so you have to be at the top of your game – no phoning it in allowed here!

10.  The weather is almost always perfect – except when there are hurricane force winds, earthquakes,forest fires, flooding or mudslides – so you really have no excuse not to run every day.  And if it is a natural disaster day, you can always go to one of the thousands of gyms! Or, next door to Starbucks.


What’s great about running where you live?


Happy Running!




Char April 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm

That’s it! I need to move to LA. Toilets every 10 feet? (yes I’ve reached that certain age too). The chance to be a serial killer? Sorry – I just re-read that bit and you just meant act as a serial killer. Coffee on every corner? That’s a runner’s paradise for sure.

And be honest with us – you were Jessica Alba’s body-double weren’t you?!

Kent April 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm

There is a very nice State Park within a few miles of where I live – I most always do my long runs there. Sorry Carilyn, but I hate running in traffic and I hate noise. Give me nothing but the sounds of nature and the rhythmic sound of my agonizingly slow pace. Its a lullaby too me!

Luis Zaragoza April 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Great post Carilyn! I am glad to know one can “usually” run in a big city and even have a great time. I will definitely look for you on Jessica Alba’s upcoming movie. Don’t let the paparazzi slow you down while running in LA:)

Carilyn April 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Yes! The abundance of toilets makes it worth it 🙂 And I’m with you on the coffee!

Carilyn April 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I love running in the State Parks, too, Kent – such a treat!

Carilyn April 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Thanks, Luis! Luckily no one is chasing me yet 🙂

Carilyn April 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm

And don’t I wish I was Jessica Alba’s body double! I’d be happy being her mother’s body double 🙂

Marcia April 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I don’t think i was a runner the last time I was in LA. I loved running in Oceanside and Carlsbad and SF though. Chicagos lakefront path is awesome, alas I get down there only a couple of times a year. I think we’re the home of brutal weather extremes.

Carilyn April 17, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I have a client in Chicago, and we have to plan his whole schedule around the weather 🙂 But y’all have so many great things, I bet it makes up for it! 🙂

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