Over the weekend, I received a question from someone who moved to Chicago over 2 years ago. While this individual has previously enjoyed running, swimming, and biking, they have had trouble finding love for fitness in Chicago due to constantly being surrounded by traffic and people and a flat landscape. The individual has tried joining running and triathlon groups and also has gone out to the burbs to bike but hasn’t loved any of the options. The individual asks, “I would love to hear you explain how/why you love fitness in Chicago…My question – how do you do it?”
Considering I’ve only lived in Chicago for about 2.5 years, I can’t pretend to be an expert on fitness in Chicago. However, I must say that I’ve really grown to love running and cycling in the city and I really want to help this individual out. I’m also guessing that these issues are not uncommon among transplants in Chicago. I figured I’d provide a few suggestions and then if you guys think of something else you can leave it in the comments for the individual to look through. People who don’t live in Chicago are more than welcome to suggest things as well, many of these issues with fitness in Chicago are most likely applicable to any large city.
- I remember avoiding certain big roads when I first moved to Chicago because I didn’t like to run around all of the traffic and people. I’d cut through neighborhoods and side streets to avoid busy intersections and the thought of running down State Street or Michigan Ave would really stress me out. Eventually I think I just got over this. As I started to work out earlier in the morning, traffic and people became less of an issue and eventually, I adjusted to running around cars. I also started to appreciate seeing people because it made me feel safe.
- I’m a very independent runner meaning that I like to run with others on occasion but I do most of my runs alone so I’m pretty unfamiliar with running and triathlon groups. One suggestion that I do have is trying to form a smaller running group that might be a better fit physically and mentally. A smaller group may also hold you more accountable as you will be noticed if you miss a training session.
- I do most of my training on the lakeshore path and I know that crowds (especially during the summer and leading up to the Chicago marathon) can be a huge pain. I try to get out the door really early (between 5 and 6 am) both to avoid the heat (summer) and the majority of the crowds and I find that really helps cut down on the congestion. During the winter, I only see a handful of people out running in the morning so it really feels like I own the path.
- When I cycle, I ALWAYS go south of Roosevelt on lakeshore. The path is MUCH less congested in that direction and I can get some decent speed going. I’ve only tried to go north once and I ended up cutting my workout short and riding my bike back through the city because that was easier than weaving through all of the runners.
So what do you guys think? Any other tips on making city fitness more lovable? Why do you love working out where you live?