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Runner’s Guide to Nashville

Posted by on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 in College Life, General Information, Student Life.

I really enjoy running. It gives me a way to unplug from school work and campus life for just enough time to get back to my dorm with a fresh mind and endorphins to help me get through many hours of reading for class, writing essays, and doing all those things on my to-do list. I’ve always enjoyed running recreationally though I also did competitive long-distance track and field events my first two years of high school and a year of cross-country as a senior.

Coming to Nashville for college was exciting for me as a runner because I knew it would give me the chance to explore Nashville through running. Now, as a junior I’ve found more places nearby to go running and am looking forward to branching out to more areas of Nashville to explore for running. Here’s a list of some of my favorite places and routes to go running complete with distances (approximated) and surface type.

1. The Loop: This is a staple route for Vanderbilt students who enjoy running. For some, the Loop is just running around main campus while others include Peabody campus in their definition of the Loop. I like to switch it up, but usually end up running the Loop just around main campus (approximately 3 miles). If I’m feeling like adding an extra mile and running uphill I’ll add the Peabody campus to my route (there’s a large hill located behind Hank Ingram House on the Commons). It’s all concrete sidewalks which can be a little hard on the knees and shins, but I’ve found that my body has gotten used to it; I just take extra care to prevent shin splints.

The Loop! I use a GPS app to help me keep track of my miles.

2. Centennial Park: This is another staple running place for Vanderbilt students. It’s right across main campus along West End Avenue and has a one mile, asphalt course that is marked. It’s a really great place to go if you’re really needing to run on asphalt or grass. My favorite part about running in Centennial Park (and Nashville) is the beautiful Parthenon located in the center!

Below freezing running featuring ducks upon ice and the Parthenon.

3. Hillsboro/Belmont Area: I enjoy running through the Hillsboro area when I want to add some challenge to my workout. There’s a lot of hills in this area of Nashville and it’s a nice change of scenery to run through neighborhoods with less traffic. Here, I take the liberty of running on the street instead of the cement sidewalks whenever there aren’t cars driving past. One of my favorite places to visit on runs in this area is Belmont because it has such a different vibe to it than Vandy’s campus. One time I ran through this campus there was a person playing Taylor Swift on the harp!\

4. Love Hill: If I’m really feeling like challenging myself, Love Park is the place to go. It’s not only a challenging hill to run but a very rewarding one as well- from the very top you get a beautiful view of the Nashville skyline.

A view of the city from Love Hill at night.

5. Downtown Nashville: This is a pretty fun place to run in as well. While running here is constrained to concrete sidewalks and features frequent stops due to the many downtown red lights one of my favorite places to run is the pedestrian bridge that links the two sides of the Cumberland Riverbank. It’s a cool place to take a picture of the Nashville skyline and to simply escape from the typical views around Vandy’s campus (not that they aren’t pretty. Our campus is gorgeous!)

If you’re more into the walking/hiking scene:

Percy Warner Park: Percy Warner Park is not near Vanderbilt’s campus but it is a short drive south of campus down West End/Harding Pike. There are a lot of trails in this area that really make it great for hiking! I’ve been here before back when I was trying to break in my hiking boots for my Maymester (find out more about why I had to break in boots for a Maymester by clicking here). It’s a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Radnor Lake: Radnor Lake is one of my favorite places to go if I really feel like encountering nature, especially the wildlife. It’s about a 20 minute drive south of campus along 12th Avenue. While walking/hiking is the only permitted activity along the path bordering Radnor Lake (no jogging or running, unfortunately), it’s a perfect place to hike, slow down, do some deer watching, and maybe watch the sun set behind the hills that surround the lake.

All in all, I’ve found Nashville to be a very fun place to run in. I’ve been training for the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon coming up in April and am very excited to do it! A lot of my friends have signed up as well and are also training. Wish us luck as we continue to train, especially for us first-timers!

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