Are you a Reston runner? Or are you thinking about beginning a running program? Then you will love this article by Reston resident Jessica Hofheimer. Jessica is a certified RRCA running coach, Pilates instructor, blogger at PaceofMe.com, and mother of three. Here she provides an excellent guide to running in Reston, with information about many of her favorite resources in the area. We’re so grateful to get her skilled insight on one of Reston’s favorite sports.
The RUN Around Reston
by Jessica Hofheimer
A carefully thought-out, planned community just outside the DC beltway, Reston was the perfect place for young families to migrate to in order to get out of the city back in the 1970’s. My parents bought a home in South Reston not long before I was born, and I lived here until I was 9 years old. I have vividly wonderful memories of walking and riding my bike along the wooded trails to hidden playgrounds and to the pool early in the mornings for swim team practices that turned into long summer days with my sisters and our friends. Without question, Reston was the perfect place to grow up.
It was in large part because of these memories that my husband and I found ourselves buying a home here decades later, as we were looking for a larger home for our growing family seven years ago. But there was more to it that fueled our decision: as a runner, I was lured by the trails that Reston had to offer. The home we bought is nestled right in between two runner’s havens — the Washington & Old Dominion Trail out our front door, and the Reston Association paved path system steps from our back door.
Without question, Reston was designed with the runner’s heart in mind.
I have decided that there are very few places in this world that are as runner-friendly as Reston. With its amazingly integrated paved trail system (over 55 miles of paths!) and the trails it connects to across the area (the 45-mile long W&OD trail and the beautiful, over 40-mile long Cross County Trail system being my personal favorites), the preservation of so much nature all around and within it, the abundance of races and running-related events all throughout the year, the training groups and organized runs for runners of all abilities, paces and experience levels that are literally happening all over town … I am convinced that the running in Reston simply cannot be topped anywhere else. We are so incredibly lucky. Reston runners can run anywhere, any time of the year, any distance at all – safely and supported and surrounded by truly incredible beauty.
Here is a scoop on the best of all-things-running in Reston:
FAVORITE PLACES TO RUN
The Reston Association path system
Did you know that there are 55 miles of paved paths in Reston? Under a canopy of trees, these trails are beautiful and rich with nature every season of the year. I love the sound of fallen leaves crunching under my feet in the autumn, the beauty of the snow blanketed on the trees in the winter, the budding flowers, pops of color and amazing signs of new life in the springtime and the lush greenness of the summer. Each and every time I run on the winding pathways of Reston, I experience nature in an intimate way – whether it’s a deer, a fox, or a bunny leaping across the trail, the song and sighting of a favorite bird, the blossoming of a flower or a glowing sunrise. The Reston Association does a wonderful job of keeping the trails safe and clean, collecting fallen branches and even clearing the surfaces of ice and snow in the winter, too. [More info at RestonPaths.com]
The Washington & Old Dominion Trail
Considered the “skinniest park in America,” this 45 mile long paved trail (with 32 miles of gravel pathways adjacent to it) stretches from Purcellville all the way to Shirlington. Whether you’re running in the gorgeous countrysides of Loudon County or along the more urban areas inside the beltway, it is an absolutely beautiful place to run and is perfect for long runs! [More info at WODfriends.org]
The Cross County Trail
If you like trail running, then you will love the CCT. Over 40 miles in length, this trail starts at the Potomac River in Great Falls Park and runs all the way to the Occoquan River. There are a few spots in Reston to pick up this trail (at Lake Fairfax Park and near Hunter Mill Road/Difficult Run on the W&OD), which makes it very convenient and easy to mix up your runs and “make your own adventure” in my opinion! I love the abundant nature and wilderness of these trails. It is just one of the most beautiful places right at our feet!
FAVORITE GROUPS TO RUN AND TRAIN WITH
Potomac River Running
Besides being the area’s greatest resource for running shoes, gear and apparel, =PR= offers training programs led by knowledgable and professional coaches, organized runs and super-fun social events for runners of all experience levels, ages and abilities.
Whether you’re new to the sport, new to the area, or both – if you want to run or just get yourself moving, then getting connected with the Reston Runners is a great place to start. A friendly group of more than 800 members, the Reston Runners have runs planned for everyone all throughout the week and year, and are always happy to welcome more people to the party! Membership is inexpensive ($15/year for an individual and $25/year for a family) and well worth it.
Moms Run This Town
If you are a mother runner, then the ladies of the local Moms Run This Town chapters want to meet you! These women are fun, they are supportive, they are real and they love to run. There are chapters in Herndon/Reston and in Vienna/Oakton. I recommend connecting with both groups in this area!
Life Time Fitness Reston
Whether you are a member of this top-notch gym or not, there is no fee to join the run club at Life Time Fitness in Reston. The group meets every Saturday morning at 8am and on Tuesday nights at 6:30pm. When weather isn’t awesome, they take the workouts indoors which gives you a great chance to try out the gym if you’re not a member and an opportunity to slog it out on a fancy treadmill with company!
Runners Marathon of Reston
I have to start this off by saying that I think it is **incredibly cool** that our little town of Reston has its own marathon! If that doesn’t say “running town” to you, I don’t know what does! This double-loop course (a half marathon is also offered) is mostly along the beautiful pathways of Reston so it is very scenic and also challenging. Held in mid-to late March each year, this race is a must-do for every runner in our town.
Potomac River Running Races
Reston has races all throughout the calendar year thanks to Potomac River Running! Some of my local favorites are the Perfect 10 (a 10k or 10 miler, you pick the perfect distance for you as both are offered), the New Years Day 5k, the Firecracker 5k and the Run Your Heart Out 5k. All of these races are logistically easy to get to, are professionally orchestrated and supported, and are tons of fun for the novice or the newbie and for the whole family!
One final thought: please keep safety in mind when running. Have your phone with you. Tell a family member or friend where you’re running and when to expect you home. Don’t listen to music as you run, or wear just one earbud. Wear reflective clothing when running in the dark or at sunrise/sunset. Stay to the right for bikers to pass. Be aware of your surroundings and look out for each other.
There is a way into the heart of every runner through the trails of Reston. I am grateful to live here, to run here and to share my passion for the sport with our amazing community! Where are your favorite places to run in and around Reston? What are your favorite races here? Do you have any questions about running in Reston? We would love to hear it and connect with you!
Thank you, Jessica, for all your great information!
If you enjoy this post, please let us know! Jessica has offered to write more about running if people are interested, so please send us your thoughts. We at Modern Reston would certainly love to have her write more in the future.
If you would like to learn more about Jessica, you can find her website at PaceofMe.com. She offers a variety of coaching services for runners. [Edited on 9/14/16 to add: Jessica has moved out of town, but she is still available for coaching virtually.]