Girls Run Wild

Archive for the ‘Running Stairs’ Category

While 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 something new about my favorite hometown.

I found the first set of stairs heading south on Montgomery after having climbed the Filbert Steps.  Montgomery is a dead-end to cars between Union and Green Streets – but not to pedestrians.  The top of the stairs provides a gorgeous view of the financial district with a direct view of the Transamerica Building.

Top of the Stairs from Union & Montgomery Streets

 

Bottom of the Stairs from Green & Montgomery Streets

One block south of Green on Montgomery is yet another set of stairs!  This set takes you from Vallejo up to Kearny.  My legs were too tired to carry me up them, but I got a picture of the well-tended steps.

Stairs at Vallejo & Montgomery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crissy Field is a runner’s paradise.  Flat, scenic, and expansive, not only does it serve as the gateway to the Pacific Ocean, but also provides a plethora of training options for runners, bikers, and even swimmers alike.  Although the paths around Crissy Field (and the Marina Green) are surprisingly flat for San Francisco, the area is bordered by cliffs and hills that will bring you up to greater heights – and greater views – of the north-western tip of the City.  At the edge of Crissy Field as one snakes past the Warming Hut and nears the road entrance to Fort Point lies a set of stairs.  Climb to the top and you’re at the Golden Gate Bridge.  What better way to experience the bridge than to get some exercise running to it!

This area remains one of my favorite places in the city to go for a long run.  I’ve blogged about it a couple of times, giving a 7.5 mile course idea in addition to a shorter 4-5 miler.  Whatever your distance goal, spending some time jogging around the area first and THEN running up the Crissy Field stairs will give your workout that extra umph.  Parking is generally easy enough to find in the evening hours during the week.  I’ve found that this is the best time to run in this area – during weekends you’re competing with tourists (especially on bikes) and events for space.  Depending on the desired length of your run, park a good distance away from the stairs, run there, and (try to) run back.  I usually park at Ft. Mason, which has a lot with 2 hour free parking (the lot is on the western edge of the Fort and is bordered by Bay and Octavia Streets).  Check out Walkjogrun.net to figure out a good distance before you set out on your run.

Crissy Field Stairs Entrance

The stairs are located past the Warming Hut where Marine Dr. and Long Ave meet.  Look for the stairs on your left just past the parking lot.  If you find yourself at Ft. Point you’ve gone too far.  Head up the stairs and it’s about 0.4 miles to the top.  If you don’t want to take the stairs back down, follow the bike trail instead (though be careful of cars!).  Also, don’t worry – the stairs themselves are not 0.4 miles long…at some point you will hit a walking/biking trail which will take you up to the Bridge.  If you want to challenge yourself, try running the stairs a few times before heading up to the Bridge itself!

I’ve 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 your legs burn, your knees feel weak, and your heart pound harder than you thought it could, once you’re at the top you often discover a view of San Francisco that will take your breath away.  Between the 670 sets of stairs and 4 dozen + hills in our 7 square miles, San Francisco is a paradise for running strengthening.

Grand View Park, also known as Turtle Hill (though I grew up calling it Moraga Hill), stands some 666 feet above sea level at the intersection of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Heights and Sunset District neighborhoods.  From the top one sees the Outerlands: perfectly gridded blocks containing rows and rows of nearly identical homes that end just as the expanse of the Pacific Ocean begins.  On clear days (it’s the Sunset – remember “clear” is a loosely used term in this part of the City) you can see the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.

At the bottom of Turtle Hill along 16th Avenue between Moraga and Noriega Streets lies a set of 163 stairs that aren’t your average set of City steps.  For two years, artists Colette Crutcher and Aileen Barr, in addition to over 300 neighborhood volunteers, tiled this staircase with an incredible mosaic tribute to the sea and its residences.  How often can you say that you’ve done a stair workout on a public, work of art set of stairs?  Head on over there this weekend and check them out for yourself – not only is the mosaic masterpiece a treat, but the view is worth the climb.

The Moraga Steps

The sun is shining today and before the next storm hits what better time than the present to run another set of San Francisco stairs?

Lyon Street Steps - Half Way Up

Beginning at the intersection of Broadway and Lyon and ending only 2 blocks (and 288 stairs) later at Green Street, the Lyon Street Steps take you from the top of Pacific Heights to the edge of Cow Hollow.  Two blocks doesn’t seem like a whole lot – but after a couple of sprints up, these stairs prove pretty grueling.  Your prize though lies at the top – after all of that hard work you get to enjoy a fantastic view of the Bay (which you can also admire as you slowly make you way down the stairs to have another go at them).  The top of the stairs is also a great place to do some push-ups and stretching.  Have fun!

View - Top of Lyon Street Steps

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about track running in San Francisco.  Today I headed out to Kezar Stadium for some laps and some bleacher sprints and I was reminded of why it can be a really great place for a workout.   Located on the south-eastern edge of Golden Gate Park, Kezar Stadium once housed the Raiders and the 49ers.  Today when it’s not playing host to a variety of sporting events (including local high school football games), the track is open for public use.  I could not find the hours of the stadium posted anywhere online – 311 might be of help for this.  My understanding is that the track is open until at least 7:30pm on week nights.  If you do show up and it’s closed, don’t fret (and don’t give up on your workout!!) – head into Golden Gate Park and go for a run around Big Rec (it has bleachers too).

The lower track at Kezar is your standard running track distance of 400 meters around on the inner lane.  The outer lane is a bit longer in circumference.  Four laps in the inner lane will get you to one mile – on the outer lane it depends on the width of each lane (in the case of Kezar, one outer lap is about .28 miles – four laps gets you to 1.12 miles).  The track above the bleachers is 0.4 miles around.

Ready to run some bleachers?  Start out warming up by running a couple of laps at a decent but not breathless pace.  Choose either the upper or lower tracks (the lower is made of actual track material while the upper is paved).  On either side of the field lie two sets of bleachers.  Each set contains ten sets of stairs that separate sections of seating.  Start on one side of the bleachers and sprint up the stairs (two stairs at a time).  Jog to the next set of stairs and jog down them carefully (watch out on the way down – this is when the most pain and injury can occur).  Move on to the next set of stairs.  Continue on this up and down route until you’ve completed one side of the bleachers.  Ready for more?  Run to the other side of the track and run those bleachers in the same fashion.  Need a time out with the stairs?  Run another lap or two to catch your breath and attempt the bleachers again.  When you’re completely over the bleacher aspect of this workout, see how many more laps you can get in.  Running stairs in general is a great workout – but running bleachers gives you the extra impact of the laps you get to run before and after the most intense part of your workout! (**I realized this morning that there may be some confusion over running stairs versus running bleachers – feel free to actually run up the bleacher seats.  They’re set further apart than the stairs and have a higher rise.  In other words, they’re a little harder to run up**).

Kezar Stadium

Last week I blogged about the effect of running stairs on one’s training regime and fitness goals.  Tucked away in San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill, Filbert Street from Kearny to Sansome does away with car access completely.  To get up or down this tree canopied route you have to walk up or down a set of stairs.  If you start from the bottom, your end goal is a view of Coit Tower.  If you start from the top, your end goal is The Embarcadero.

Really want to get your heart pounding and see a hidden gem within the City?  Choose your starting point with a goal of running up the stairs from Sansome Street to Kearny.  Once at the bottom, you face 3 city blocks worth of over 300 steps. Peek into the front yards of the homes and cottages that line the stairs.  Be sure to look up – you might just see the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill chirping away.  Once you’re at the top, continue in the same direction and you will find yourself coming down into North Beach.  Wander up Columbus towards the Financial District and treat yourself to a Latte or Italian soda.  It’s a tough climb to the top – but it’s an “only in San Francisco does this exist” kind of experience. Besides, as you pass all of those tourists barely able to walk two steps without taking  a break, you’ll look pretty awesome.

Filbert Street Steps - Going Up



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