I have this routine.
Three days a week, pretty much without fail, I set my alarm for a time well before the sun comes up. I roll out of bed, usually still half-asleep, and I make my way outside. In the light of my phone and the stars, I lace up my shoes.
And then I run.
I never used to be a morning person, but, for me, there is something so peaceful about being out in those early hours of morning. It’s my time to exercise, but it’s also my time to reflect and destress. I am grateful for that time, which I spend either on my own, or with my running friends.
Some days, I get bored with my scenery and venture out to find new paths and trails. Mixing things up boosts my motivation and helps the miles pass more quickly.
Vilano Bridge to Bridge of Lions
On those days when I want a bit more of a challenge, my route starts at Vilano Bridge. I head out from Beach, turn onto San Marco, and run into historic downtown St. Augustine.
The Bridge of Lions is a great halfway point, if you’re feeling like some mid-run hill work.
The out and back is good for about seven miles, and runners can test their legs on some pretty significant elevations. Bonus: there is nothing quite like the sunrise over the Castillo de San Marco and bayfront.
St. Augustine Beach
If the sand is hard packed, running the length of St. Augustine Beach is a beautiful experience. There’s nothing quite like falling into sync with the rhythm of the waves in the fresh salt air. The change of surface can provide needed relief from pounding on pavement, and there’s nothing quite like dipping your bare feet in the surf after a run.
In the event that the sand is too soft, the route along A1A Beach Boulevard can be just as rewarding. Cut up on Pope Road to wind through the neighborhoods behind the beachfront storefronts for a relaxing, shaded run.
Grab a friend or two and prepare for a gorgeous run. The trail extends 4.1 miles from its entrance behind Ponte Vedra High School to its end at the Intercoastal Waterway.
The trail is wide and mostly flat. Mud and standing water can be an issue in rainy season, but don’t let that deter you from the opportunity to get out there in nature for a beautiful run. Stay alert – there are warning signs posted for snakes, alligators, and bears. As of yet, I haven’t had the pleasure of an encounter, but it’s always wise to stay on your toes.
This 12 foot wide, paved pathway is great for both running and cycling. Stretching 8.5 miles, about half the trail is shaded, and the views include both sprawling farms and gorgeous foliage.
It’s nice to have a route mostly uninterrupted by vehicular traffic, but also still close to civilization. The plan is to extend the current 8.5-mile distance in the near future, which will make a great option for longer runs.
Running is a great way to get out and stay active, but remember to stay safe. There have been several attacks in the local running community, so it’s important to stay aware. If running alone, make sure someone knows where you are and when you plan to be back. Be sure to carry a cell phone for emergencies) and some kind of ID on your person or shoe with personal info, an emergency contact, and any significant allergies. If running in the dark, be sure to wear reflective gear and lights, both to light your way and to make yourself visible to passing traffic. Vary your route and if you are alone, skip the music and earbuds (or keep it low enough that you can still hear ambient noises). Handheld pepper spray is easy to carry and is very effective if needed.
Where is your favorite place to run in St. Augustine?
What tips do you have to stay safe on your runs?