Moscow’s Not a Bad Running City After All

All these months, I hemmed and hawed because I had convinced myself that Moscow was a terrible city to run in. Turns out I was wrong. Yes, running up Tverskaya or the Garden Ring is a bad idea. But tonight, I found that if you stick to the back streets, it’s actually fun.

As I got ready to run tonight, I yet again faced the quandary of what to do with my keys. In the States, this is not a problem. I could get it down to one little key that I could tuck in the key pocket of many running shorts. Here my keys look like this:

Tucking them into a key pocket isn’t so easy. I found a solution, but one that my mom probably won’t approve of.

For today’s run, I queued up Steph’s “Heading Out I” on my iPod. I think she intended it as pre-party music, but since she had delivered it to me in Lisbon, I’ve found that it works equally well as a cleaning mix and a running mix. Though Steph, the Biebs really does sound like a girl.

Since I’ve spend about 95% of my 8 months in Moscow totally lost, once I find a way to get somewhere, I don’t deviate it. This has significantly improved my rate of arriving places on time, but means that I haven’t explored my neighborhood.

Today, with no deadlines, I let myself get lost in the area behind my building. Wish I realized there were so many cute restaurants and shops while my parents were in town! I kept winding my way around and secretly enjoyed running past the Chabad Synagogue in my neighborhood in running shorts and a tank.

Heather, I’ve decided I’m going to need to keep a daily count of all the couples I run into making-out just for you. Again, probably upwards of a dozen in a 40 minute run today. Most were in the park, but at least two just stopped in the middle of the sidewalk right in front of me. And I’m not talking about a little peck either.

Ended my run with a couple of laps around the pond — I think I’m providing a lot of amusement for the Russians sitting on benches drinking beers. By that point in my run, I’m sure I was not looking attractive, but noticed a few smiles as I panted around the perimeter.

I forgot how great it is to get to know a city by running, but my new effort reminds me how much more you see when you give yourself the freedom to just wander about instead of focusing on getting somewhere. There’s so much people watching to be done in Moscow — can’t wait for my next run.


17 thoughts on “Moscow’s Not a Bad Running City After All

  1. Hi, I found this blog through a google search for “Running in Russia.” Randomly (!) I live in Chicago and will be visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg the first 10 days of July. I should be marathon training at the time (note the “should be”) so will bringing along my running clothes but have no idea where to run – can you offer any suggestions of routes? We will be staying right by the Kremlin. I was actually hoping to find a road race while in Russia but looks like that scene isn’t as active as it is in Chicago! Any input will be appreciated! Thank you, and enjoyed your blog.

  2. Hi! I also found this blog while searching “running in Moscow.” Looks like a lot of Chicago running girls are finding themselves in Russia this summer! I am heading to Moscow (from Chicago) this week and will also visit St Petersburg. To Jennifer above — it’s a shame you’re arriving in early July. There is a marathon and 10k in St Petersburg on June 26. I hope to run the 10k as part sticking to my own marathon training. But since most of my time will be in Moscow, I am also interested in knowing where to best run. Or, if you want a running buddy…. Thanks!

  3. So, I guess I actually need to check my comments when I post a blog!
    Jennifer and Stacy, there road racing scene here is definitely not as active in Chicago. Very few races in town and I miss my running club and the lake front path in Chicago. Because of where I live, and because I hate traveling anywhere to run (at least at the distances I’m doing now), I just run the small streets in my neighborhood near Patriarch’s Ponds. I’m only doing 30-45 minutes right now. There’s a decent path along the river that you can get to if you’re staying near the Kremlin. It’s counterintuitive, but I would stay off the main streets — there’s just too many people and no one used to yielding for runners.

    What are you two doing in Russia? If you need any tips or want to meet up, feel free to PM me. Is there an option for that on my blog . . .

  4. Hmm….I can’t seem to find a place to send a message. As part of the admin of your blog through WordPress, do you have visibility to the email addresses of those who follow? A friend has a blog so I’ve asked her as well…
    I’m heading that way tomorrow, arriving Wednesday. For me, this is vacation! A friend is currently working in Moscow, so it seemed a good opportunity to visit.
    I was reading about running there and it does seem far less popular, but I can only imagine the people watching on a run. Also, I found an article published about a year ago indicating Nike was launching some runs in area parks, but could not find much more. Sounds like there might be some organized running there, which might be fun for you as you get back into it!
    Friend got back to me. She uses WordPress and can see the email addresses of those commenting on her blog. Perhaps you can find us? 🙂

  5. I’m from NY and will be visiting Moscow in the beginning of July for 10 days or so. I actually was searching online about a month ago, and couldn’t find much at all. So I was surprised when I found your blog today.

    At first, I was really afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do much running. When is the best time of day to go for a run? I was planning to try to get up early in the morning and get my run in before my hosts are awake. Are the streets really busy in the morning? Are there any parks or things to run in? I saw some kind of path along the river in some pictures, do you know how safe it would be to run there?

    Thanks for your optimistic outlook on Muscovian running. Good luck on your comeback! If you figure out how to email, then I would welcome a message. Take care!

  6. I stumbled on this site but I’m not a soon-to-be visitor, I live here. My preferred runs are along the river. Major roads near the river and almost every bridge I’ve run across has either a ramp down to the river or stairs for pedestrians. It’s pretty easy to run for a couple of miles, hit a bridge, cross the river, come back down and run a few more.

    I’d suggest taking a look at Map My Run ( to map out a potential running route.

    My favorite time of day is early morning, like 4:30-5:30. You get to watch the locals leaving the clubs and stagger their way to the metro as it starts operation, on the early side and they’ll be waiting for the metro to start running and bored so they’ll be amusing themselves, and there’s little traffic. And when it comes to drunk Russians, you never know what you’ll see.

  7. Hi

    I also stumbled upon this blog 🙂 I am arriving in Moscow tomorrow and staying to run the marathon on Sept 11th, and 6 other friends will be joining me as well. I am from Montreal. I’d love to get together with other runners to train and get an idea of the running community there.


  8. I too found your blog by Google search, “Running in Moscow”. I’m visiting Moscow in August 2012. I was hoping to get in touch with a running group. I don’t know the language so if there was a group and someone know English that would be awesome.

    Any suggestions for a running group to contact?

    –Thank you.

  9. @RunnerBrett, I will also be looking to run in Moscow in August 2012! I’m also looking for a running group. Last time I visited I joined a gym (paid by the day) so I could use the treadmill. Boring, but did the trick for about $8 a visit.

  10. Jen, I’ll be in Moscow on August 4th. If you need a running partner and we are close by please send me an email. Treadmills drive me up the wall.

  11. I’ll be in Moscow over the weekend of September 22 / 23 & am aiming to get a run in. Reading many of the comments posted here, I think I’m going to try to run along the river, we’ll be staying very close to the Kremlin. If there are any scheduled runs, or running clubs I can tag along with that weekend, I’d love to hear about them. I also am marathon training in Dubai, so am used to running in 35 degrees at 6am so am looking forward to some cooler weather! Currently I’m running for about 90 minutes.

  12. Hi Jen

    Just arrived in Moscow for a 9 month secondment, have used the hotel gym for the last few days but am venturing out tomorrow morning for my first outdoor run. If you find any groups or indeed events, please post as keen to keep my running up while here

  13. Why not leave the iPod home and engage in a more sensuous way with the sounds of the city?

    Two good runs: take the Moscow Metro to Izmailov station, exit directly into the 3000 acre “forest park” and run on wide, paved trails, gravel roads, or narrow dirt paths, circling around the ponds and enjoying the sounds of birds twittering and red squirrels chattering.

    Second run: Big Bend of the Moscow River. Get yourself to Gorky Park on the Garden Ring road (Gorky is Park kultury, as it is called here, and you can take the Moscow Metro then just walk or run over the bridge crossing the Moscow River to the other side, where the park is), then run all along the embankment of the Moscow River, through Gorky Park and continuing along the greenway that goes through Sparrow Hills (where Moscow State U. is located). Where the river embankment splits here and there, giving you access to a second pathway lower to the river, take it; you won’t regret running along, passing fishermen, swimmers, and sunbathers. Eventually, you’ll run out of park and will need to go up a small dirt embankment to run along the roadway. Keep on that until you pass the big red and white smokestacks and can see the Foreign Ministry in the distance (one of the Stalin’s Seven Sisters skyscrapers). You can cross back to the Garden Ring over the pedestrian bridge from Kiev Train Station or continue along the embankment and get back to the Garden Ring via any one of the next several bridges.

    This is a great run. Depending on where you start and finish, should be somewhere from 6 to 8 miles, with beautiful views all the way, and some handy Toi-Tois (Port-o-Pots along the way).

    At the end of the Gorky Park section, there is also a Cross-Fit trail that goes up through the wooded hills. The trails there loop around going back through Gorky Park, if you’d rather not continue along the embankment to Sparrow Hills and beyond. You’ll see an opening to the left with a small pond beyond; to the right there is a small sign for the cross-fit trail that goes up a steep hill. From there, you have lots of choices for pathways.


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