I don't know if you felt it (I felt it last night when I was fossicking for the Movenpick in the freezer), but the pressure to get those Nike Frees tearing up the bitumen in preparation for bikini season is heinously mounting. Or perhaps you're one of those people who've been eagerly awaiting the promise of Summer sunshine and are itching to get back out and clock up some kilometres. Either way, the question is, where are you going to go?
Melbourne's a huge place, and you need direction if you're going to have a productive training session. So Urban Listers, whether you're training for City2Sea (FYI - registrations close tomorrow!) or simply bored of the streets in your area, we've provided the best running tracks in Melbourne. We've also thrown in a few places to pick up some sweet threads or a coffee afterwards, making it a little bit easier to lace up for that 5:00am sweat session.
The standard run for Carlton residents, Princes (or Prinny) Park and Royal Park are excellent running tracks for a runner of any level of experience. Princes Park boasts pretty trees, the choice of concrete or sandy track and plenty of people around to motivate you. Royal Park is more about losing yourself to the bushland, with wide open spaces with spindly tracks (don't get lost!), a mini wetland in the middle and of course, the Melbourne Zoo to do a spin around. Princes Park gets pretty congested after work, but Royal Park is always pretty calm, so if you feel like mixing it up, why not try and do both?
Pre-sweat, park your car on Rathdowne Street, Carlton, so post-sweat you can pop into Clay Fine Food & Health to further embrace your ascent to healthy living. Chock-a-block full of organic produce, fine food, health products and supplements, Clay also stock free range meat, milk and some cool organic beers so you can cook up some nosh for dinner that won't make you feel like you've ruined your run.
Princes Park | 200-590 Royal Parade in Carlton North
Distance Around: 3.17km
Royal Park | Flemington Road in Parkville
Distance Around: 5 to 8km
Clay Fine Food & Health | 719 Rathdowne Street in Carlton
THE MELBOURNE SOLAR SYSTEM TRAIL
Starting from the 'Sun', at Marina Reserve Lighthouse at Elwood, you can run along the beach and 'touch' the first five planets. The foreshore trail continues for 5.9 kilometres and you'll know you've hit the end when you can see 'Pluto' hanging out at Sandridge Beach in Port Melbourne. Every metre that you run/walk/skip/boogie represents 1,000,000 kilometres in space terms, so even if you don't do your best distance-wise, you can still think about how far it would've been in space and feel way better about yourself. This is also great if you are actually gearing up for the City2Sea fun run, as you'll be running alongside hundreds of other running enthusiasts for a sweaty 5km or a more arduous 14km. Registrations for City2Sea close tomorrow, so if you haven't signed up, do it now!
Before you get cracking on this run, leave your car in Brighton and stop in at Lululemon so you can look crash hot as you pound the Esplanade. Specialists in yoga gear, Lululemon also make an excellent pair of running shorts, as well as ultra lightweight t-shirts and tanks that'll make sweat a problem reserved for those who ain't lemon-ed out.
Melbourne Solar System Trail | The Marina Reserve Lighthouse at Elwood through to Sandridge Beach in Port Melbourne
City2Sea | Sunday 17th November
Lululemon Brighton | 2 Church Street in Brighton
The Albert Park Lake trail is one of Melbourne's most popular running tracks.
ALBERT PARK LAKE
Another popular running track close to the CBD, Albert Park Lake is an equally delectable running track and delightful experience should you have a penchant for black swans. If you're a beginner, the track is just shy of 5 kilometres the whole way round, so more experienced runners can enjoy doing a double up to increase their calorie burn. There's also the added bonus of cute little exercise stations where you can sit up, stretch, star jump or put simply, stare at the eye candy running past.
Also, every Saturday parkrun runs (pun intended) a timed 5 kilometre event around Albert Park, so you can push yourself for a PB or perhaps just check out how you fare against other Melbourne runners. You have to register, but it's free – so what's stopping you?
Albert Park | Lakeside Drive in Albert Park
parkrun | Every Saturday 8am at Albert Park
Alright, the other runs were popular, but the Tan takes the cake. Often flooded with yummy mummies and healthy looking corporates jogging during their lunch break, the Tan is a great run as it offers a challenge (tell me that the Anderson Street hill doesn't hurt), or if you take it the other way around, a lovely run full of relaxing descents. There are markers telling you every time you've beaten 250 metres and clocks that'll tell you how fast (or how long…) you've taken to complete a lap, making it a great track for monitoring your progress. It's not the best run to go on during school peak hour (there's a private girls school on the edge of the Tan which can make it hard to park) but it's a must do on the weekend. There are also events and running groups if you need something extra.
If you've run the Tan in the morning, a great place to hit is the Lawson Grove Shop – perfect for a bowl of muesli and a coffee. Tucked amongst the suburbia of South Yarra, Lawson Grove's art deco space will have you feeling homey as you munch on a free-range egg, or taking away some milk and some house cured meats.
The Tan Track | The Royal Botanical Gardens, Birdwood Avenue in South Yarra
Lawson Grove Shop | 1 Lawson Grove in South Yarra
MENTONE TO BEAUMARIS
This is one that few have heard of, but it's still one of the best runs in Melbourne. As you run, you'll be treated to fantastic cliff-top views and side tracks that you can go off and explore. If you're not the strongest runner, this one may be a test as it's full of stairs and hill climbs, but we promise that the burn will be entirely worth it – the views of Melbourne are amazing. When you're finished you can take a dip at Beaumaris beach or maybe even visit Mentone's The Corner Store for a bite to eat and a cheeky cocktail (we won't tell the coach).
Mentone to Beaumaris | Start at Beach Road in Mentone and run all the way to the Red Cliffs of Beaumaris
The Corner Store | 1 Swanston Street in Mentone
The Abbotsford Convent provides a picturesque setting for your next jog.
ABBOTSFORD CONVENT TRACK
For most people, a visit to the Abbotsford Convent involves a café or gallery visit and a spot of shopping, however the gardens and grounds, with their bumpy interlocking pathways, are totally worth the sidestepping for. You can run past the Collingwood Children's Farm and coo at a chicken, or maybe push your mileage a bit further and take a trip alongside the river. This is one of those runs that you may need a GPS for, but it's a nice change for those of you who are sick of the structure of a running track.
Afterwards, go back to the Convent to check out some of the aforementioned art exhibitions or perhaps hang around for a bite to eat and catch a gig in the band room. Check out the newly reopened Farm Cafe too for some of the best breakfast bites and coffee in town. The Convent is a great place to chill out for a couple of hours and there aren't any nuns hanging around to tell you otherwise.
Abbotsford Convent | 1 St Heliers Street in Abbotsford
Distance: Choose your own distance!