If you’re an after-work or evening runner, for the love of God, do not torture yourself by running along Mass Ave. There is nothing worse than the tempting smells of freshly grilled burgers wafting past your nose as you try to convince yourself that three more miles is a good idea. But if you have the good fortune of being a morning runner, Mass Ave. is a perfectly pleasant and quiet route. Run on the wide-open and well-lit road without constantly getting stopped by traffic or dodging ambling pedestrians. The stretch from The Eagle on the south end to Indy Reads on the north end is only about one mile. Add a little extra distance by jogging to the Circle or connecting to the southern tip of the Monon.
Fort Harrison State Park
If you like getting out of the city and spending some time in nature, Fort Ben offers a great variety of mix-and-match trails. None of the individual trails are longer than three miles, but many of them connect, so you can create your own trail. Just make sure you’re familiar with the map, because getting lost on a run sucks. Two of our personal favorites are the Harrison Trace Trail, an easy paved 2.5-mile trail, and Schoen Creek Trail, a twisting three-mile mountain bike/trail runner path that will take you up steep inclines and through muddy swaths.
Eagle Creek Park
Eagle Creek tends to be a little more crowded than Fort Ben, but the bigger space and wider assortment of trails are worth it. Paved roads loop through the park and offer plenty of variety. Hiking trails are clearly marked and range from 2.5-mile loops to nearly seven-mile loops. They are hiking trails, so make sure not to twist an ankle, but they’re wide and well maintained, so it’s not too different from running on the Monon. If you park in one of the neighborhoods nearby, many of them have walking paths that go straight to the park entrance, and you can pay a couple of bucks less for being a pedestrian instead of a vehicle.
The Canal + White River Trail
The Canal Walk is perhaps the most obvious downtown place to run, and no matter the time of day, you’re sure to cross paths with other runners, instilling in you a sense of camaraderie and inspiration. Safe, quiet, and uninterrupted by traffic—the 1.5 miles almost manage to make running easy. But if you’re tired of the Canal and want to mix things up, try connecting to the White River Trail, which adds another three miles by following the river up to 10th Street and gently looping back past the zoo and through White River State Park.
Fall Creek Trail
We’re tempted not to share this little gem of a trail. For long training days, it can be hard to find a good route longer than five miles, but this paved path runs about 9.5 miles from 25th and Meridian along Fall Creek all the way up to Skiles Test Nature Park on 65th Street. Long stretches of it fly by unhindered by road crossings, and it’s nowhere near as crowded as the Monon. There are a few questionable areas where you’ll find yourself running through fairly industrial areas, but for the most part, the blooming trees and gurgling creek will transport you to the rural countryside.