Active City Spotlight: Running in Los Angeles

If you're visiting Los Angeles and in need of a killer workout, head to the beach, take off your shoes and run.

On the soft sand.

"It's like running with weight on your ankles," Dr. R. Amadeus, team physician for USA Track and Field, told the New York Times. "It's harder to get your foot planted into the ground, and it's harder to get your foot off the ground."

All along the Southern California beaches, people are running. Most wait for low tide and run on the wet, packed sand that is firm enough to not be excruciating.

But at many beaches, the soft sand is always there, ready to bring you pain as you run on it.

Many of the beaches in Los Angeles County are plenty deep, which allows for activities like beach volleyball and boot camps in the sand to be prevalent. But it also leaves plenty of room for soft sand running—challenging as it may be.

"When you go for toe-off, some of the sand gets on top of your muscle and you're not able to bring that toe up as easily," Dr. Mason told the Times. "That's where the calf muscle starts to work more, because you have to lift your toe up as you're doing your normal toe-off."

Running in Los Angeles is not restricted to the beach, of course. There are plenty of popular routes (with a variety of surfaces), plenty of great races and, of course, plenty of great weather that makes you want to head outside and get a run in.

If you're visiting Los Angeles, moving to Los Angeles, or maybe a longtime Angelino just getting into the sport, here is your guide to all things running in Los Angeles:

Places to Run

Anyone interested in the coastal charm that Los Angeles County offers has to go check out The Strand.

The 22-mile path stretches from Pacific Palisades to Torrance right along the coastline. Some of L.A. County's biggest attractions are along the route—the Santa Monica Pier, Muscle Beach, the beach volleyball courts in Hermosa, and more.

Much of the path butts up against multi-million dollar homes overlooking the ocean, giving you plenty of opportunities to dream while you get your workout in.

Other popular routes:

  • Griffith Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the country, has enough paths and trails to get any length of running in—with tremendous scenery overlooking downtown L.A., the Hollywood sign and more.
  • Many runners looking for tough routes head to the Santa Monica Mountains and run amongst its extensive fire trail system.
  • Manhattan Beach has a wood chip trail that provides a cushiony surface and lasts several miles.

Races to Remember

In terms of prestige, the L.A. Marathon is in the discussion of top marathons in the United States.

The point-to-point course starts at Dodger Stadium and makes its way toward the coastline, finishing by the beach in Santa Monica.

The race, which takes place in March, had nearly 20,000 finishers in 2013.

Other well-known races include:

  • You can see where the stars work at the Hollywood Half Marathon, which explores Hollywood and all its famous venues. The April race maxes out at 7,500 runners, though there is also a 10K and 5K race.
  • The Long Beach Marathon is a great event, embraced by the city of Long Beach with a fast course perfect as a Boston qualifier. It takes place each October.
  • The Los Angeles Chinatown Firecracker Run is a 10K and 5K event in the hills of Elysian Park around Dodger Stadium—just a few minutes from downtown.

Stores to Check Out

Arch and Sole (745 N. La Brea Avenue) is your classic mom-and-pop running store near Hollywood. In business for more than 15 years, Arch and Sole does bio-mechanical assessments for runners looking for new shoes, while also stocking nutrition, injury prevention, apparel and other running accessories.

Other running stores include:

  • Run With Us (235 N. Lake Avenue in Pasadena)
  • FrontRunners (11620 San Vicente Boulevard)

One Last Tip

To get a track workout in, head over to the campus of UCLA and run at Drake Track Stadium. The surface is ideal and you can also run the stairs there to get a killer workout in.

More: 8 Tips to Squeeze Your Runs In When You Travel

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