Guest blog by Lianne Martin
It is November in Florida. It is brilliantly sunny, and the sky is a deep, electric blue. The humidity is low, and the breezes are light. Whether you are a novice runner, wanting to start a regular exercise regime or training for your 10th marathon, this is the time to be outside. Tons of tranquil running and walking routes, both on and off the roads, exist around Southwest Florida. Running by yourself can be peaceful and restorative, but if you need a little motivation or social support, local groups have organized runs for runners of all levels everyday of the week.
Routes to be explored:
Gulfshore Boulevard South
Park with your city or county beach parking permit for free or the paid parking at Lowdermilk Park and head south. The Naples Pier (with public restrooms and water fountains!) is about four miles round trip, or for longer training runs, head to the end of Gordon Drive for a 10-mile run. If you want a shorter workout, most avenue beaches are easy turnaround spots, many with water fountains.
Gulfshore Boulevard North
Park at Seagate Beach with permits or paid parking. Head south to enjoy a four-plus-mile loop passing views of Venetian Bay, the Village Shops at Venetian Bay and highrises of Park Shore. Water fountains can be found at both the north and south ends of Gulfshore Boulevard North.
Naples Gordon River Greenway
Located downtown, the greenway is next to the Naples Zoo (Jungle Larry’s for longtime locals). Park at the north lot off Golden Gate Parkway or the lot south of the zoo. The greenway offers a blend of boardwalk and paved trails. Round trip is roughly four miles. The greenway is one of my favorite mini-escapes from the traffic. The boardwalks and paths are great places to spy wildlife and watch planes take off and land at the airport.
Miles of sidewalks, shaded streets and wide bike lanes make a perfect place for a peaceful walk or run. Pelican Bay is a favorite for local runners and running groups. Parking is available around Artis—Naples or off Vanderbilt Beach Road.
Local running groups to join:
Gulf Coast Runners
- Mondays: Run the greenway at 6 p.m. Group meets at the Golden Gate entrance and all levels are welcome. 3-5 mile loop.
- Wednesdays: Run with Mary Iamurri at 6 p.m. from the south lot at the Naples Beach Hotel. This is a super social, three-mile run for all levels. Runners often stay afterwards to relax on the beach.
- Thursdays: Meet up at Artis—Naples at 6 a.m. for a six-mile run. All levels welcome, and there is a large walking group, as well.
- Saturdays: The weekends are for long runs! The group meets at Lowdermilk Park at 6 a.m. Water and Gatorade are available for everyone. All ability levels run anywhere from three to 10 or more miles. Great place to meet people training for races.
- Gulf Coast Runners also offers track practices and more individual coaching. Check website for details.
Fit2Run (Coastland Center)
- Tuesdays: Group run from the store at 6:30 p.m. All levels welcome.
- Thursdays: Group run from the store at 6:30 p.m. All levels welcome.
- Sundays: Training runs. Check website for details.
- Individual training plans and coaching are available for a fee.
More specific race training and coached workouts, including triathlon training and individual training. These workouts have a small fee. Package deals, drop-in fee rates, workout information and locations available on the website.
- Mondays: 6 p.m., usually at Venetian Village
- Wednesdays: 6 a.m., usually at Venetian Village
- Thursdays: 6 p.m., location TBD, see website
- Fridays: 6 a.m. location TBD, see website
- Weekends: destination races, see website for information
One of the biggest running days of the year is Thanksgiving. Start the morning out running one of the local races, help give back to the community with your race fee, and really earn your dinner!
Local Thanksgiving races (click for details or to register):