Running in the Windy City

Artilce adapted from ESPN

From the iconic -- and totally flat -- Lakefront Trail to so many beer-themed races that we lost count, the Windy City is an ideal spot for runners. Locals weigh in on must-have gear, the best races and their fave spots for post-race grub.

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TRAINING

Best time of year for running:

May-October. Start running before the temperatures get too hot and get your budy used to the warming temperatures. Running areas may be a little crowded but join the community out running and cycling everyday.

Best restaurants for fueling up:

Protein Bar: Stop in for a Comisky cocoa (chocolate banana delish) and spinach and pesto scramble after your long run -- your (soon-to-be-recovering) muscles will thank you!

Native Foods Café: Vegan runners sprint to this chain that offers spicy fried cauliflower, a unique meatball sub (heavy on seitan and pumpkin pesto), sesame kale macro bowl and nearly everything meat-free in between.

True Food Kitchen: Celebrate a 10K PR with a ginger margarita and kale guacamole at this chic restaurant -- and save room for the coconut and chia seed flan for dessert.

Best training challenge:

GoVember, an annual challenge out of Lively Athletics, a women's athletic-gear boutique in Oak Park. Participants can either enter the Hemingway, the Betty White or the Ludacris. Challenges are named for Oak Park natives.

Winter Warriors, the training group from CES that keeps you running through the winter.

Chase Corporate Challenge, this event brings together the companies and businesses in the Chicago area for a fun running event.

Best group to share a post-run beer with:

Mikkeller Running Club, a Danish creation that has spread to five continents. The Chicago branch meets at Northdown on the first Saturday of the month for a 5K at "whatever pace is comfortable" for you, then regroups for a Mikkeller, "which makes some of the most flavorful, creative beers I've ever had," says the captain of the Chicago branch Charlyn Chapal. "Everything from tart, fruit, Lambic beers to citrus, piney IPAs to some stouts that taste like milk shakes. All are delicious." Best of all? The first round is on the house.

The Chicago Beer Runners

Beer runs through Revolution and Goose Island.

Worst (and only?) hill:

Roosevelt Bridge, which also happens to be at the end of the Chicago Marathon. "You've been running on flat ground the entire way, so the hill seems like a monster," says Olympic marathoner Chirine Njeim. "But once you get up it, it's a straight shot to the finish."

Cricket Hill at Montrose Beach, this is a common spot for runners working on hill running.

Best renovation to look forward to:

The Lakefront Trail Separation Project. By the end of 2018, pedestrians and cyclists will each have their own lane for all 18 miles of the lakefront, drastically reducing calls of "on your left" and near-misses.

Best gear -- if you do brave the winter:

Anyone from Chicago knows, our winters are no joke. Preparing for winter running is the most important step. Two favorites for Chicago-area runners:

A headband, ear warmer, balaclave or hat.

Convertible running mitts: Gloves with a windproof cover, so you can adjust your hand's climate along the way.

RACING

The three best races:

The Shamrock Shuffle: 30,000 runners don their green -- or at least their running shoes -- for this race, which is the unofficial start to the Chicago racing season. "It's like a mini-marathon," says Johnpaul Higgins, a local runner who also works for the Chicago Area Runners Association.

The Soldier Field 10 Mile: Held on Memorial Day Weekend, the majority of the course is along Lake Michigan, and the finish line is inside of Soldier Field. "Even though I'm not a huge football fan, there's something amazing and motivational about finishing a long race in a huge stadium," says Celia Johnson, who blogs at Chicago Jogger.

The Chicago Marathon: The famed marathon celebrates its 40th anniversary this October. You'll run through 29 distinct neighborhoods from Wrigleyville to Chinatown and past 1.7 million cheering spectators. If that's not enough to distract you from the challenge of 26.2 miles, we're not sure what is.

Best post-race restaurants to celebrate:

"I usually leave the downtown area and head to a neighborhood after large races to avoid crowds," says running blogger Celia Johnson. Here are three of her favorites, by neighborhood:

Lakeview: Wishbone: Toast to the finish line with Southern food -- their cheese grits are amazing.

Lincoln Park: Orange: A brunch spot with unusual flavor pairings such as peppercorn raspberry egg sandwich and mango pancakes. "Don't miss their orange-infused coffee," says Johnson.

Lincoln Square: Café Selmarie: Pastries galore at this Lincoln Square landmark, plus savory dishes such as chilaquiles casserole, Johnson's favorite.

WHERE TO RUN

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The Lake Front Path

Stretching 18 miles from Ardmore Steet (north) to 71st Street (south) this path is the prime location for runners. Besides running along the beautiful Lake Michigan there are many sites of Chicago that runners will pass. Navy Pier, the museum campus, Lincoln Park,and various beaches all provide scenic views for runners.

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The 606

This 5.3 mile trail runs throught the Western neighborhoods of Chicago.

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Waterfall Glen

Just about half an hour outside Chicago this 10 mile loop is a popular running spot for many long runs.

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Busse Woods

This 7.2 mile trail runs through a forest preserve and offers beautiful scenery.

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Logan Square

These 5.5 miles start at Logan Square, then head down the tree-lined, wide Kedzie and Humboldt Boulevards, round Humboldt Park and return to the start.

Evanston Park

A bucolic 2-plus miles: Begin at the bird sanctuary, run through two parks and hear Lake Michigan's waves the entire time.

WHO TO RUN WITH

Fleet Feet Chicago

With 7 locations this running store has free group runs at all their locations throughout the week. They also have a running team.

CARA

Charity Groups

The Chicago Marathon is a great opportunity to run for a cause and these groups all have their own training runs.

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