The 20 Best Cities for Runners Training for a Marathon
Ready, Set, Run
Most people are familiar with the most famous marathons—but whether you think New York City, Boston, or Washington, DC, is the best city to do that 26.2, the real question is this: Where do you want to train for one? After all, between all those miles and long runs, you're going to spend a lot more hours where you're training, not racing. (Speaking of training, we have 25 marathon tips you need to know.)
This might not be enough incentive to relocate, but if you're a serious runner, you need to consider Redfin's rankings of the best cities for marathon training. The real estate brokerage company looked at the parks per square mile, days of sunlight, walkscore, and the average daily temperature to determine which city reigns supreme when it comes to endurance running—look below and keep scrolling, because the results just might surprise you.
Cleveland may not be on an ocean, but log some miles along Lake Erie and you'll swear it's just as good. Looking for some green instead? Try Rockefeller Park, Shaker Lakes Park, Morgana Run Trail, Sandy Ridge Reservation—all some of the most scenic running locations in the area.
This city might be better known for its snow, but Buffalo scored relatively high for walkability, making it a worthwhile choice for marathon training. (And let's be honest, we kind of love these things about winter running.)
Newark is super walkable with a somewhat mild climate. It's just a train ride away from New York but has a smattering of small parks throughout the city so you can still get your nature fix.
Oakland scores high for temperature and sunshine (as you probably guessed), making it a perfect place for fair-weather runners. Try Strawberry Canyon and the Bay Ridge Trail, or test your trail running in Redwood Regional Park.
Minneapolis is a sort of two-for-one. Explore the Mississippi River, the Midtown Greenway, or the nearby lakes, or take your training to the other of the Twin Cities, St. Paul, for runs at Summit Avenue and Como Lake.
Despite Portland's reputation for gloomy weather, the city makes up for its climate with jungle-like greenery and parks to spare. Plus, with the Nike headquarters nearby, you know it has to be a good locale for all things fitness.
These weren't factored into Redfin's rankings, but we think running the Rocky steps should count as major points for this city when it comes to marathon training. Stop by the Liberty Bell and then make your way over to the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art to dash up a flight or two. Now that will earn you a Philly Cheesesteak. (Plus, you'll get these stair-climbing health benefits.)
Long Beach, CA
Long Beach is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Santa Ana, but with one very important perk—it's right on the water. This city banks the highest sunny days score of all the cities, so if you're into beachside running or hate the rain, this SoCal city is perfect for your running needs.
Santa Ana, CA
As part of greater Los Angeles, Santa Ana obv scores high on the sunny days index, as well as the average temperature. If you're in for a really long run, take it all the way to Huntington Beach and cool down post-run with a dip in the ocean.
Take advantage of Baltimore's waterfront views by training along the Inner Harbor, then celebrate post-long run with some much-deserved local crab.
Wisconsin might not seem like anything to write—er, run—home about, but with 2.7 parks per square mile and a decent amount of sun, it makes a perfect place for runners. Bonus: They even have their own running festival.
This super walkable city comes with some cold temps and wind, but a surprising amount of sunshine. And when in Chi-town, no need to run circles around the Bean; the Lakefront Path, Des Plaines River Trail, Washington Park, and Palos Trail System all provide gorgeous views of the midwestern waterfront, urban life, and greenery.
Arlington, Virginia, is just a hop outside of Washington, DC—meaning it has all those park perks and mild temps of our country's capital, minus a few tourists.
Seattle scored the lowest for sunny days and has a relatively cool temp, but also has lots of parks and a high walkability rating to save it. That, and all those coffee shops to give you a great buzz for your run. (Seriously, coffee can help your fitness goals.)
Loathe winter? Love running in sand? Head to Miami—the city with the highest average daily temperature and the third highest number of sunny days of all 20 cities. (ICYMI here's what running in heat does to your body.)
Washington, DC—home of the famous Marine Corps Marathon—has a whopping 12.5 parks per square mile, making it the perfect city for runners who like a little green (and occasionally some pink cherry blossoms) in their cityscape.
This New England city is the home of one of the highest profile marathons, so it should come as no surprise that Boston is a great place to train. Log your miles along Carriage Road or the Charles River, or tackle the infamous Heartbreak Hill all on your own. (Here are some racing tips from the fastest female at the Boston Marathon to help you through your run.)
Jersey City, NJ
The city in the third spot might come as a surprise, but with the same climate, sun, and walkability as New York, it gives the bigger city a run for its money. Plus, the view of Manhattan from the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway can hardly be beat.
New York, NY
If you thought New York City would be low on the list for long distance running, think again. The urban oasis is dotted with tons of parks (and massive Central Park, obv) and is, of course, number one for walkability. Run around the Central Park Reservoir, have a jog in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, or zoom along one of the riverside paths and across a bridge or two. The ultimate way to see this city isn't by subway, bus, or cab—it's on your feet.
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco grabs the top spot with a great year-round temp (it ranked number one for that!), sunny days, parks, and walkable nature. Running with a view of or on the Golden Gate Bridge? Yes, please. But those aren't the only places to log miles in San Fran; with a plethora of paths like the Golden Gate Promenade, Ocean Beach, Mountain Lake Trail, and Lake Merced loop, you can switch up your scenery from urban hills to coastal views to mountain forests. (Here's some trail running inspiration, including one from the SF Bay Area.)