I have been running in New Haven for over three years. At first, I was intimidated by the city’s busy streets and intersections. But what was I to do? I needed to run. I stopped whining and started pounding the pavement. I haven’t looked back since. Here are some tips to use and enjoy while running in Elm City.
Disclaimer: These are my individual experiences. Yours may vary, especially if you have a
● Red lights, walk signs, and pedestrian crosswalks are mere suggestions. They may be state laws, but not in New Haven. Motorists don’t care. Many believe they always have the right-of-way — even Prius drivers — and would gladly run you over to prove it. This, the Type-A driver, tops the list of a runner’s most feared natural enemies, followed by off-leash dogs, plantar fasciitis, and potholes. If you want to
stay safe, cross the street after the light turns green. Distracted drivers are typically too busy checking out how many likes they have on their latest selfie to notice traffic lights.
● Don’t wear headphones while running in New Haven. This puts you in a vulnerable position. I recently saw a young woman in her 20s running alone in the dark with headphones on. Really?! I wanted to grab her by the ponytail and shake some sense into her. If you want to shut out society for an hour or so by listening to Justin Bieber, fine. But not while you’re running in a busy and potentially dangerous city. Something bad is more likely to happen to you when you stop paying attention to
(Editor’s Note: Is this really that dangerous? Are people being kidnapped from the streets?!)
● Please pay attention to these signs scattered around New Haven:
Sidewalk etiquette must be maintained, both by walkers and runners alike. We all know this is not always the case. For some reason, it’s easier to get into an Ivy League school than navigate sidewalks. (Ed: True.)
Runners can sometimes appear invisible. I’m often unnoticed by your typical electronic device-user: head down, walking straight ahead, completely oblivious. They’re not going to move out of your way, so don’t expect them to. They can barely get out of their own way. If I am coming up behind you, I will give a little friendly, “On your left,” to let you know I am coming. Just trying to be courteous. But don’t expect that it will be reciprocated.
● Beware the turtle showing its head. One of my biggest fears about running is ending up back home without my socks. (Let that sink in for a second.)
There are port-a-potties located at the base and top of East Rock, the Wilbur Cross track, and sometimes at Edgerton Park. If you’re lucky, a cafe will let you use its facilities. Other than that, you’re on your own. Plan your route and poop accordingly!
● Running up East Rock is a great hill workout and the view of the city at the top makes it totally worthwhile. However, drivers also race up there and it’s important to be careful. Sometimes you have to run in the middle of the road to notify a driver you’re coming. Other times, you may find yourself running through a cloud of marijuana smoke wafting out of passing car’s window. (Ed: Woo free drugs!) It gives a whole new meaning to the term, “runner’s high.” (And, oh yeah, if you recently left your lace maroon underpants on the road to the rock, they’re still there.)
● If you need to run after a snowstorm and you don’t want to use the “dreadmill”, go to St. Ronan Street, often dubbed “The Gold Coast” of New Haven. Because it’s a beautiful road and home to several Yale bigwigs, it’s one of the first roads to be plowed. Privilege does have its perks.
● I don’t care what color, race, religion, gender, size, or age you are, you should be able to run freely without getting accosted. Sadly, this is not always the case. Some people just have a revulsion to running and runners in particular. And it’s important for them to let you know how they feel. Why?
Maybe they’re insecure bullies, or resentful of people with healthy lifestyles, or Trump supporters. I think it was Mother Teresa who first said, “Mean people suck.” And she was right. In the past,
here’s what I’ve had to endure from haters:
- I’ve been called a “cunt” for running on the correct side of the road. (For the record, I’m not.) I’ve gotten cat calls; I’ve been physically threatened; and I had guys who’ve tried to win me over by lasciviously licking their tongues on their lips — a method that has probably hasn’t worked since the Stone Age.
- On the lighter side, I’ve also been asked, while running ( yes, while running), where Yale’s secret societies are housed. Pretty ironic. The first thing you learn as a New Haven runner is the exact coordinates of Yale’s secret society network. The second thing you learn is never give out that information.
● When it’s dark out, be sure to wear some bright, reflective gear. Common sense 101.
Even if you may look like a yellow Hi-Lighter or the ‘Clark Griswold’s’ Christmas
display, it’s better than looking like a half-squished squirrel on the side of the road.
Prospect Street is often well-lit, as well as most areas near and around Yale. Stick to
those if you have to run at night.
● Stay off the Farmington Canal Path unless you are running with someone. After you
leave “Yale Land,” you’re crossing into unpredictable and possibly dangerous
terrain. However, the path is nice and safe north of Hamden High School.
Happy running and good luck not dying![FBW]