When you think about a runner’s life style what comes to mind? Running shoes, sports gear, races, medals, finish lines, nutrition, habits, or maybe simply the best places to run?

Being a runner in many major cities around the world can be a logistical challenge, and really be a whole lifestyle on its own. But if you love to run and truly want to get the most out of running consider a life in Houston. Don’t believe me? Here’s seven reason why.

Photo: Houston Parks Board – Brays Bayou Greenway

1) Houston has an expansive network of Bayou Greenways and parks. Houston’s park system has been drastically enhanced in recent years with the creation of a 150-mile network of parks and trails along nine major bayous, giving Houstonians unprecedented access to approximately 3,000 acres of greenspace. Almost every Houstonian lives within 2 miles of one of these trail systems. That’s just 2 miles to get lost in your thoughts on your Saturday long run. And bonus – all of these trails provide access to Downtown Houston! That’s 150 miles of beautiful views;  access to cross training with a kayak or riding a bike; or simply having fun on an evening stroll with your dog (did we mention the countless dog parks that call these trails home?). I have to confess, running the bayou simply put, makes me feel at home. They were the first paths I ran when I moved to Houston and I can still remember how overwhelmed I was with their beauty. They offer a different path every time to the adventurer or a constant familiar to the regiment runner, but one thing is for sure, you’ll never get bored with its bridges, its views, the expanse of art, and the nature these paths have to offer.

2) Social Runs: If you’re a social runner, Houston is for you! We have the BEST and most frequent social runs around. I challenge you to come visit Houston for a week, or come in a few days early for race weekend to check out all of our social runs and meet knew running friends. We are a vast community that is welcoming to all abilities (there’s a reason it’s called Southern Hospitality) and quite frankly, we’re just FUN! Every day of the week you can find a different run and even more than one on the same day. This is the best way (in my personal opinion) to take full advantage of the fun and camaraderie in the #runhou community. No matter your pace just show up! It’s the perfect therapy on any day of the week to make new friends and relax from work. And the best part – you can find  your next motivation or training partner too.

3) From all of our social runs comes our social events! In a city like Houston with so many events, activities, shows

, museums and things going on, meeting new friends from your running habits just might mean becoming active and meeting your new friends to attend all of the city’s non-running activities and events too.  Art events, galas, brewery nights, weekend festivals, culinary experiences, and so much more. It’s all a part of the Houston lifestyle. Your circle of fun will increase just by running the miles on your training calendar. What’s the saying? RUN, TACOS, REPEAT.” Or if you prefer, “RUN, MARGARITAS, REPEAT.”

4) With city taglines like “Houston Strong” and “Houston Inspired” it’s no surprise to find a number of runs dedicated to supporting our very own local communities. We take pride in knowing we can support nonprofit organizations through our running, training and miles to make Houston a better place! In fact, the Chevron Houston Marathon, the best race event in the city (if I may say), supports 65 of our local nonprofit organizations through the Chevron Houston Marathon Run for a Reason Program which encompasses charitable causes for many different human interests needs. To take part, all you need to do is run the Chevron Houston Marathon, the Aramco Houston Half Marathon or even the We Are Houston 5K presented by Aramco and Chevron to support one. All the while giving your miles more intention and becoming a Hero for your community.

5) If you ask anyone who lives here about the best places to Run in Houston, top on their list will undoubtedly be, Memorial Park. This 3 mile crushed-granite trail is lit and filled with other people running so you can feel safe even after dark. It is also well-shaded and has restrooms and water fountains along the way. And a recent upgrade is the addition of the newly paved asphalt track just north of the Tennis center, so you don’t have to climb a fence to any high schools to get those Tuesday workouts in. I realize my optimism may be skeptical to some, but I’ll tell you what, my running life in Houston has introduced me to so many aspects of this city, that either through races, events or social runs, one day I woke up and realized “I’m not a newbie anymore. I’ve seen at least 70% of this city on foot, through running. And in my opinion there’s no better way to see a city than on foot.

6) Let’s talk about earning those race medals and just the sheer number of running events around. In Houston we have races every weekend – and for everybody. Trail racing, road racing, fun runs, relays, charity runs, you name it. The options are endless and are YEAR ROUND. It might be a bit warm during the summer months, but that doesn’t stop us! We’re still out here running, and there is truly a race for you and your running buddies every weekend of the year. We’ll be there and ready to take you to that fun after-run brunch or beer we’re so fond of.

7) Adaptive athletes out there? Have no fear! Houston has got you covered too. You’re an integral part of our running community, and we encourage each other to keep moving forward and challenging ourselves. The Chevron Houston Marathon has one of the largest adaptive programs proportionally of any major events, and our smaller local events welcome all athletes too. Many of our runners regularly run and support our local Achilles Houston chapter and Team Catapult that help athletes overcome adversity. These programs do a great job of involving our amazing run community so that we can help support them with their initiatives.

We are diverse. We are full of many different cultures. We welcome all abilities. We are Houston. And if I may, I’d like to tell you just once more. There is a place for everybody in Houston. Come run with us!