It’s happened again: Your running sneakers are calling you. They’re begging for the chance to carry you to new destinations. They’re pleading for awesome routes and exciting adventures. But you’re hesitant — after all, you’ve kind of lost interest in going for the same old run around your neighborhood again.
What you need isn’t to ignore your sneakers or run the same roads for the hundredth time. You just need to find refreshing Harrisburg running routes that aren’t stale. In the Harrisburg area, there are plenty of choices for runners to expand into a new territory and test themselves on some fun and challenging trails. So lace up, plug in your earbuds, lather on your sunscreen, and head out the door to find the seven best places to run in Harrisburg and the surrounding towns!
1. Riverfront Park, Harrisburg
If you haven’t noticed, Riverfront Park parallels the picturesque Susquehanna River and is a magnet to runners of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re practicing your sprints or are out for a leisurely run, you can bask in the beauty of the area with gorgeous views of the river.
Because the City of Harrisburg also keeps the Riverfront Park pathways well-tended during the warmer months, you aren’t likely to encounter any difficulties or obstacles as you run. Just remember that bicycles are also allowed on the Riverfront Park pathways, so watch where you’re running. Luckily, no moving vehicles are allowed on the pathway, though.
2. City Island, Harrisburg
City Island sits in the middle of the river and begs to be listed as one of the best places to run in Harrisburg! You don’t even have to pay to park if you decide to drive to City Island after midday, unless the Senators are playing at home or another event is occurring.
One of the bonuses of running around City Island is that there is little to no motor vehicle traffic on the walking and bike lanes surrounding Metro Bank Stadium. Another bonus is that there’s a lot of shade in certain sections of City Island. This makes it a little easier on those 90 degree days to stay motivated, and you can enjoy canopies of trees and chirping birds. Once you’re done at City Island, you can also access Riverfront Park conveniently — just run across the Walnut Street footbridge and you’re immediately greeted with running paths to your north and south.
3. Negley Park, Lemoyne
After you’ve tackled Riverfront Park and City Island, head to the West Shore for some hilly running in Lemoyne at Negley Park. Negley Park and the residential areas around it offer great views of the river from a hill overlooking the water, as well as some impressive altitude changes. While there aren’t many places to run in Negley Park itself, the park is a great location to park your car. Then, you can carefully run throughout the neighborhoods in the vicinity.
Be prepared to be dazzled by this running route in Lemoyne! Many of the homes in this area sell in the million-dollar range due to their architectural construction, as well as their tranquil setting. As always, remember that you’ll be sharing the street with cars, although the traffic is usually light. It’s definitely one of the best places to run in Lemoyne, PA, and it will test your ability to recover from steep inclines. Don’t forget to protect your knees when running downhill — go slowly and steadily for the safest results.
4. Market Street, Lemoyne and Camp Hill
Another running route in both Lemoyne and Camp Hill that gives you a hilly running workout is Market Street. Market Street seamlessly connects Lemoyne and Camp Hill, so there’s no strong distinction between the two. You’ll probably want to start your run in Lemoyne, where you can park on the main streets or side streets for little money. If you want to extend your running route in Lemoyne and Camp Hill, begin by parking in Negley Park in Lemoyne and start by running down the hill towards the corner of Third and Market Streets.
During your Market Street run, you’ll get a great feel for downtown Americana at its best. Both Lemoyne and Camp Hill have interesting shops and eateries. Don’t run all the way to 32nd and Market Streets, because it can be difficult to cross at this point due to the busy intersection. Instead, cross Market Street at a traffic light a few blocks prior to 32nd Street. This is the perfect running route if you’re practicing for endurance and distance rather than time, since you’ll have to navigate some traffic lights that could affect a timed run.
5. Siebert Park, Camp Hill
If you’re looking for a place to do a little track running, Siebert Park is one of the best places to start a run in Camp Hill, PA. While you can certainly run there without using the track that’s available to all visitors, the track is definitely a highlight. Camp Hill recently renovated this area of the park, which means the track is second-to-none in terms of appeal and quality. Four times around the track is equal to a mile, so get your stopwatch ready! Not only can you try some fast/slow splits, but you can even practice relays with a running buddy.
In addition, Siebert Park is a solid starting point for a run through the section of Camp Hill that’s located north of Market Street. Simply use the underpass below busy Routes 11/15 to get to the north section of Camp Hill with gorgeous, historic residences and tree-lined streets.
6. Creekview Park, Mechanicsburg
Creekview Park is a Hampden Township park that allows you to enjoy Mechanicsburg off-road running routes in a serene setting. There are several acres, and the paved walking paths make great running roads, too. Jog around pavilions and children’s playground equipment as you enjoy tons of natural shade thanks to the well-maintained flora. You can even run a little in the grass, if you’re itching for more of a Mechanicsburg trail running experience.
If you decide to head from Creekview Park into the streets outside and around the park, always look for motorized vehicles. Many people use this area as a way to get from one part of Mechanicsburg to another while avoiding busier routes. If you’re listening to music on your headphones or through your earbuds, keep the music turned down so you can hear what’s happening around you.
7. Hampden Park, Mechanicsburg
As the name implies, Hampden Park is another Hampden Township park that’s maintained by the borough’s parks and recreation department. Hampden Park is home to many park amenities, including several fields, a playground area and the Hampden pool. The running routes along Hampden Park are straightforward and without much shade, so it’s best to bring along protective gear and sunscreen if you’re coming to the park on a particularly sunny day.
If you have kids who are involved in any kind of sports at Hampden Township park, the running routes are a terrific way to pass the time. Of course, if you get hot after a long run, why not pay for admission to the pool? It’s the perfect treat after enjoying one of the best places to run in Mechanicsburg, PA!
Tips for Running in Harrisburg, Camp Hill, Lemoyne, Mechanicsburg and Beyond
Whether you’re someone who has been running for years or you’ve just started, you can always try some new tips and tricks once you pick your running destination. Check out the following helpful hints to keep you from getting injured or having a bad run:
Buy the right kind of running shoes. Think that the fashion sneakers you bought at a discount are going to hold up under a run? Think again! It’s important to invest in running shoes so you can avoid problems like shin splints, inflamed tendons, knee injuries and plantar fasciitis. Visit a store that sells running shoes, and get yourself fitted properly. You may discover that you need a certain type of running shoe, such as one for overpronation. If you spend a little extra upfront on your running shoes, it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Dress for the weather. Obviously, you want to dress comfortably for your run, but what happens if the weather is a little cooler than you expected? In general, it’s recommended that you either wear layers that can be easily removed without interrupting your run, or you go outside in a lighter outfit. You might be chilly to start, but you’ll be glad you aren’t loaded with clothing after you get moving!
Check the forecast. The weather can change frequently during all seasons, especially in the summer when thunderstorms can occur suddenly. Check the radar for Harrisburg and the surrounding communities before you go outside to run. If there’s a chance you’ll get caught in a downpour, wait until the danger has passed. Or visit one of the Harrisburg YMCA branches for an indoor run!
Stay hydrated. One of the biggest mistakes even smart runners make is leaving the house without being hydrated. Drink plenty of water before your run, and have water on hand for afterwards, too. If you feel thirsty, you’re most likely already dehydrated. While you’re running, you can even drink some water if you’re either willing to run with a bottle of water in your hand, or invest in a special pouch that allows you to bring water with you.
Eat for energy. Are you a morning runner? Don’t head out for your runs on an empty stomach! You don’t have to gorge yourself before a run, but you shouldn’t force your body to run on empty. Even a small energy bar or piece of fruit and some yogurt will fuel you up. Plus, you’ll get a better workout and be less likely to feel a crash in your body later in the day.
Stretch before and after running. Do you just head out the door and break into your run right away? Try stretching a little before you start your run, even if the stretching is simply walking for a few minutes. Then, after you’re finished with your run in Harrisburg, Camp Hill, Lemoyne or Mechanicsburg, cool down with more stretching and walking. This will help your body adjust to post-run changes, and it will lessen your chances of having muscular aches and pains.
Tell someone where you’ll be. Just in case, it’s always a good idea to give someone else your itinerary before you go out for a run. You don’t have to give a street-by-street breakdown, but let someone else in your life know where you’ll be and how long you expect to be there. Alternatively, always take a cell phone will you so you can contact people if needed.
Run when it’s light outside. There are many runners who love running in the dark, but it’s not a safe way to work out. If it’s dark outside, you could consider going to the YMCA instead or wait until it’s light enough to run outside. Cars, trucks and SUVs can’t see you clearly in the dark. Even if you wear reflective gear, you can’t be sure that you’ll be secure on the roads.
Mix up your running routes. One of the biggest reasons that runners stop running is boredom. After all, it can get dull to run on the same roads or the same neighborhoods every day. Find new places to run on a regular basis. This will keep you from choosing to sit at home rather than hitting the roads or running trails in Mechanicsburg, Lemoyne, Camp Hill or Harrisburg.
Download a running app. There are plenty of running apps available to assist you in charting your progress as you develop your skills as a runner. Some are completely free with optional upgrades. Not only can they show you where you’ve been, but they can also give you a better understanding of your typical pace. This will help you progress as you start to work on speed or endurance.
Do something else besides running once in a while. Are you stuck in running mode? Go to the YMCA and lift some weights or work on other cardio equipment at least once a week. This will keep your muscles guessing, and it will give you a better chance of improving your running ability.
Inspired yet? Get out there and discover all that central PA and the Harrisburg area has to offer in terms of running routes! Go solo or with a group of friends and challenge yourself. Running is one of the best all-around workouts for your mind, body and soul. If you need some pointers or want to cross-train in the gym to improve your running ability, start a membership at the Harrisburg YMCA today!