I’ll preface this with a simple fact: I’m not a personal trainer, health coach, or exercise guru. I just really enjoyexercising outdoors, and over the years have made the magic city my personal gym. Whether you’re running because you love it, or just need to get your body moving for the bargain price of free, Miami offers some beautiful options for all runners at any fitness level. For those of us who may spend a lot of time stationary and confined to an office space, the idea of getting in the car and driving to the gym (another four walls of pain) might seem like cruel and unusual punishment. Believe me, we’re in complete agreement about this. To add insult to injury, it can also be a drain on your wallet to subscribe to the notion that fitness is only achievable in the gym or a boxlike equivalent. As human beings, with our powerful intellect and experiential wisdom, we forget about the ultimate membership to the animal kingdom—and animals require connection to their natural environment, i.e., the great outdoors. Taking your runs from the treadmill to the park, or running trail, can satisfy your need to connect with nature and promote a no-excuse policy when it comes to staying fit. Absolutely NO fancy memberships required.
Keeping an open mind and being flexible about how you get your cardio fix can enhance your life and remove those pesky voices in your head that keep you sedentary or stuck in a rut. That being said, not everyone aspires to build up the endurance to run a marathon, so feel free to take a more dynamic approach by using running as a warm up tool to supplement other cardio/calisthenic training or as a way to de-stress and let smaller intentions be the focus. I find this strategy to be extremely effective in reaching your goals, whatever they may be. The only caveat to taking to the outdoors for a Miami sweat session is the unpredictable weather. One minute it’s raining, the next it’s pouring and then the sun comes out just as you’re making it back, soaking wet, to your car. It’s a risk you take; but, with the right gear getting stuck in a torrential downpour can actually be refreshing and invigorating. Rule number one: even on a sunny day, make sure your expensive smartphone is in a Ziploc bag and stowed in your pocket, sports bra or a fannypack just to be safe. Rule number two: if you plan to run in the evening make sure to get yourself reflective gear at your local sporting goods store to keep you safe and visible while running on the city sidewalk or residential areas. Be a “safety first, fashionable second”, kind of person. Get out there, Miamians. The city is waiting for you.
Cocoplum Plaza Circle to SW 27th Ave (5.81mi)
Park at Cocoplum Plaza Circle then run northeast to take Edgewater Drive to Douglas Rd.. Once there, head North to Main Hwy, and then East to 27th ave. Once arrived, turn back and follow the same trail to get back to Cocoplum Plaza Circle. This run has tall tree coverage which provides excellent shade from the harsh Miami Sun. You’ll have the comfort of the sidewalk for the majority of the trail, and drivers tend to be more vigilant of active runners and bikers in the area.
Rickenbacker Causeway Bridge Run (4.2mi)
Park at the last parking lot right before you reach the bridge then run over the bridge and down to the end of the Miami Seaquarium. Then run back. This trail is a bit challenging since there’s no shade, and sometimes no breeze, to keep you cool. The tall bridge is a major obstacle—especially on the way back to the starting line. I recommend doing this as close to dawn and dusk as possible to avoid the harsh heat. Definitely give this one a chance, you’re sure to enjoy the workout, and it’s a fabulous endurance booster.
Miami Beach Sand Trail (3.05mi)
Running on the sand is, in my opinion, one of the most taxing terrains, especially for newbies. Remember to listen to your body, hydrate appropriately, and don’t underestimate the resistance. It’s going to kick your behind regardless, and even if you run 5k distances regularly, you’re going to feel this the next morning. Try to take in the sea breeze one deep breath at a time, and bask in the beautiful ocean view that’s practically right in our backyard.
Granada Golf Course Coral Gables (2.3mi)
Near the pro shop you’ll find plenty of parking, and the track is 2.3 miles around the green. You can double up on this if you want the extra miles, otherwise it’s a perfect short run. The view of serene trees and leisurely golfers sets the tone for a peaceful run perfect for clearing the mind. All the lush greenery and gorgeous real estate help your brain to find a rhythm then escape to a calmer space where you can listen to yourself as you tune out the stresses of daily life.
Brickell Key Run (1.3mi)
Take Brickell Key drive into Brickell Key then help yourself to a triangular island running track with an urban edge. The trail is a 1.3 mile perimeter, but you can double, triple, or quadruple your route to get in some extra mileage. This route has breathtaking vistas of the bay and our urban metropolis to keep you entertained, you’ll also enjoy at least partial shade from tall buildings and palm tree canopy. The city is constantly blasting it’s own symphony of sounds ,so I highly recommend bringing your own playlist. It seems there is an endless amount of construction which usually involves jackhammers and other noise pollution, so plan accordingly.
WORDS BY: Cristina Cernuda
PHOTOS BY: Cristina Cernuda