Girls Run Wild

Running San Francisco’s Stairs!

Posted on: May 19, 2011

Now that the rain has ceased – at least for the moment – it’s time to start enjoying the outdoor playground that is San Francisco.  Venturing outside of my own front door today to complete my home workout, I hit the stairs at the top of my hill.  Half-way up I was reminded of how much running stairs sucks.  It’s hard, it tires your legs quickly, and it makes you yearn for an inhaler.  But the benefit to your body can be outstanding.  Pushing your body like this can improve your cardiovascular system, increase leg power, and be a needed change to your often monotonous routine.  Even though I’m training for a half marathon where I will not encounter a single stair, I know that adding stair training to my routine will make me a more efficient runner when I’m on a flat surface.  It’s kind of the same thinking of elite runners training at altitude: you push your body in uncomfortable conditions and come race day you have a supposed competitive advantage over runners who have trained at a normal elevation.

For runners looking for stairs, San Francisco is your paradise.  Built on 47 hills, the City has many streets that are only accessible by stairs, staircases on sidewalks that are too steep to climb otherwise, and, well, stairs in nearly every neighborhood.  There are over 670 stair streets in this City!  “Stairways of San Francisco” is a wonderful site that lists several staircases in the City and even categorizes them by neighborhood, rating,  and distance.  Running any of these stairs can be a great way to see some of the hidden gems of the city.  Want to find the Parrots of Telegraph Hill?  The Filbert Steps might be your best bet.  Live in the Sunset and think that your neighborhood is too flat to possibly have steps?  Head over to 16th Avenue between Moraga & Noriega Streets and run up the beautiful tiled steps.  Want a great view of the Bay while you run?  Find the Lyon Street Steps at Lyon and Green, run up, and once you’re completely out of breath (and at the top), turn around, and admire the view from the top.

Running around your own neighborhood – especially if you live in a hilly area – is a great way to discover stairs.  Today I happened upon stairs on Liberty Street. I took one look from the bottom and went straight up.

Bottom of Liberty Street at Noe

Once at the top, I turned around, and watched the glow of the sun setting over the western half of the City.

Top of Liberty Street Looking Over Eureka Valley

Try running a set of stairs this weekend.  Can’t physically do it?  Walk ’em.  Make it to the top and feel great?  Walk back down the stairs and run them again.  Just remember to pick up your knees – as your legs begin to tire you might trip.  Also, once you’re at the top it’s ok to stop and admire the view.


3 Responses to "Running San Francisco’s Stairs!"

[…] blogged a few times about running stairs in San Francisco because, well, there are so many stairs to run!  And even though charging up those steps makes […]

[…] on my detour from my planned running route on Monday, I stumbled upon two more of San Francisco’s 670 stair streets in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood.  Having rarely ventured into this part of town, I learned […]

You have made some decent points there. I looked on the web for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.

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