Our favorite post-run spots downtown (early edition)

Our Downtown 5k tour is our most popular route. After three miles around downtown, we love to grab coffee and hang out in Market Square.

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Runners listen to the history of Market Square

Because downtown Pittsburgh has so many amazing options, we’re dividing up our favorite post-run spots into breakfast/lunch (and coffee) and dinner (and happy hour!) These are some of our favorite spots downtown after an early run.

  1. Fort Pitt Coffee

Fort Pitt Coffee opened earlier this year and is a great addition to the downtown coffee scene. A favorite treat there is the dirty chai, but they also have delicious prepared iced teas and have recently added seasonal drinks. They’re only open until 3 on weekdays and noon on Saturday (closed Sundays), so get there early for your coffee fix.

  1. Market Street Grocery

Market Street Grocery is a terrific option for a one-stop shop. Pick up a coffee and donut, plus any essentials you might need. Because of their wine bar, they also make a great happy hour spot (catch them on our dinner/happy hour list, too). The Gaby et Jules outpost in the corner means you can pick up a macaron for a delicious post-run treat that you don’t need to feel too guilty about.

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  1. Bluebird Kitchen

Bluebird Kitchen has two locations – one on Forbes near Market Square and a second on Stanwix Street. They’re both open Monday through Friday at 7am. Market Square stays open until 3pm, and Stanwix is open until 2pm. Both locations focus on creative offerings using fresh, seasonal, and locally grown food.

  1. Hello Bistro

We’re big fans of Hello Bistro’s salad bar. One price for all the toppings you can think of? Yes, please! Besides their design-your-own salads, they also have an abundance of other options. There’s sure to be something to please everyone in your party. Plus, Hello Bistro is connected to Delicious Raw, in case you prefer to drink your nutrition.

  1. Gasoline Street Coffee

Gasoline Street Coffee is another relative newcomer to the downtown coffee scene, having opened in early 2016. Not only is the vibe spot on, they have inventive drinks not found elsewhere and tasty pastries from ThreeFifty Bakery. Plus, they often host fun events in their space.

Look for additional downtown favorites soon. We’ll be talking about dinner and happy hour places next, and then the best places to satisfy your sweet-tooth!

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History of Pittsburgh Running Tours

Pittsburgh Running Tours was established by Trista Yerks in 2013 and is an active way to explore Pittsburgh for both locals and visitors alike. A self-proclaimed “Pittsburgher by choice”, Trista moved to Pittsburgh in 2012 from Minneapolis and immediately fell in love with the city. Trista had taken running tours in the Twin Cities with City Running Tours and wanted to do one in her new city to get to know the area, but they didn’t exist.

Wanting to share her passion for both running and Pittsburgh with others, she started Pittsburgh Running Tours with one route – North Shore. The first tour took place on June 23, 2013 (if you’re a Pittsburgher, you might remember this as the day after the infamous Kenny Chesney concert).

 

Since then, Pittsburgh Running Tours has flourished and currently has 9 different routes – Strip District, Downtown, South Side, Oakland, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, Mexican War Streets, North Side, and of course, North Shore. Tours are offered year-round, any day of the week, and new routes are constantly being developed. Custom and private tours are available, as well as special tours offered in partnership with local breweries, yoga instructors, and other tour operators.

When Trista asked her very talented sister-in- law, Minna Sponholz, to design the logo for Pittsburgh Running Tours, she asked her to include one of the Three Sisters Bridges. Minna designed a unique logo that incorporates not only the three bridges in that special Aztec Gold, but also Pittsburgh’s three rivers in blue.  And the logo as a whole is a pair of shoelaces, since it is a running company after all.

Running tours are growing in popularity and can now be found in 190 cities worldwide. To find running tours in a city near you, check out runningtours.net, a resource to find running tours.

Our favorite post-run spots in the Strip District

Our Strip District 5k tour is one of our most popular. It’s also the one where we get the hungriest! There are so many great post-run spots in the neighborhood that smell amazing as you run past. These are some of our favorites.

  1. Pamela’s

As anyone who’s been on the Strip District tour knows, Pamela’s is a Pittsburgh institution. They’re best known for their crepe-like pancakes (which they’ve been brought to the White House to make). Pamela’s is cash-only, but they have an in-house ATM. There’s usually a wait, so get on the list and then go grab a pre-brunch coffee (and donut)!

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  1. DeLuca’s Diner

DeLuca’s often (well, almost always) has a line out the door of people waiting for a table, but it’s definitely worth the wait. In fact, if you see DeLuca’s without a line, you should definitely stop in – that’s pretty rare! In fact, stopping for breakfast at DeLuca’s is the only time we’ve ever left people behind on a tour. No line = must stop. They make everything to order and have an amazing California Benedict. Like Pamela’s (and many brunch spots around the ‘burgh), they are also cash-only.

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  1. East End tap room

You’re not going to find brunch here, but if you’re looking for a post-run brew, East End’s Strip District tap room is the place to go. Did you know they make root beer and ginger ale, too? You’ll find something for everyone at East End.

  1. Smallman Galley

Smallman Galley is another place you’re likely to find something for everyone. If you’re not yet familiar with the concept, Smallman Galley is a restaurant incubator – there are 4 rotating chefs who each have their own menu of items they’re offering. Each chef spends 18 months at the Galley. From avocado toast to banh mi, there’s sure to be a good option for each person in your group here. They also have a full bar with a large tap list.

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Runners pose for a photo in front of St. Stanislaus Kostka church in the Strip District

How to make running fun!

When you’re a beginner runner (or heck, even if you’ve been doing it for years), sometimes you have to force yourself out the door. Below are some tips to make running fun for when you just don’t feel the motivation.

  • Find a buddy or join a group.

Our tours are great because you don’t have to run alone – you’ll meet a group of active, like-minded people. Plus, as an added bonus, you will learn more about Pittsburgh and its history (find our calendar of tours here).

  • Celebrate the “small” victories.

Did you run a little bit farther than you ever have? Did you run your fastest mile?  Did you choose running today over sitting on the couch?  Be proud of that!

Celebrating a 5k PR
Celebrating a 5k PR
  • Sign up for a new challenge.

That new challenge might be a race where you’ll go further than before or attempt a PR, or it might be something different like a run streak (running every day for a set number of days).

  • Try something new.

Run in a new neighborhood or change your regular routine. Just switching out of your regular route can be fun. Do you regularly run along the riverfront trails here in Pittsburgh? Try Frick or Schenley Park instead!

  • Run without gadgets.

Some of my favorite runs are ones where I  just go – I don’t pay attention to distance, time, pace, or anything but my surroundings. This is when running is truly enjoyable and meditative for me.

Favorite post-run spots on the South Side

After a run, we’re often hungry and don’t want to travel too far for our next meal. Next time you’re on the South Side with us, check out one of our 5 favorite post-run food spots.

  1. Carson Street Deli

Carson Street Deli is home to our absolute favorite sandwiches in Pittsburgh. They have inventive combinations like the Donnie Brasco (buffalo chicken and egg salad) and an impressive beer selection. If it’s nice out, don’t miss out on their beer garden out back!

  1. Apsara

Apsara is one of our favorite Thai restaurants in Pittsburgh (and there are oh-so-many excellent options to choose from), and they actually specialize in Thai and Cambodian cuisine. Rarely busy, you’ll easily find a table and excellent food.

  1. Zenith

Brunch at Zenith is a must-eat in Pittsburgh. Served starting at 11am on Sunday (how convenient that our South Side tour ends around 11am!) until 2:30pm, we’d recommend arriving early. This vegetarian restaurant/art gallery/antique shop is as eclectic as the South Side neighborhood it’s in. And the food is delicious, so people often start lining up prior to open.

  1. Big Dog Coffee

Big Dog Coffee is slightly off the beaten path, in that it’s not right on Carson, but it’s one block back on Sarah and 27th Streets. The coffee and pastry selection here is wonderful, as is the atmosphere. It’s dog friendly and decorated with Baron Batch’s art.

  1. Bartram House Bakery

Bartram House Bakery is a great option to please (almost) anyone. They offer all-day breakfast and the option to build-your-own breakfast sandwich or burrito, as well as sandwiches, soups, salads, and a large array of cakes and pastries.

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Runners learning about one of the many South Side murals along Carson Street

How to Run-Commute

We’re big fans, and now that it’s starting to cool down after those hot summer days, it’s also the perfect time to try run-commuting. Bike commuting gets a lot of attention (and is certainly a great option), but why not give run-commuting a try? Here’s how!

  1. Plan ahead

We can’t emphasize this enough. Planning ahead is the key to run-commuting. Assuming you work at an office, you’ll probably need to change into office-appropriate clothes when you get there. You might need to shower (don’t worry; if there’s no shower, a run commute is still possible!)

Some important things to consider for your run-commute:

  • Are you running to work? From work? Both ways?

If you’re planning on running to work, you’ll want to leave some work-clothes and shoes at the office the day before (or have a backpack you don’t mind running with – we like this one by Camden Gear: the chest straps helps it stay stable as you run, and you can easily sip water on the go or take out the bladder for more space). You’ll also want to have some toiletries to freshen up (no shower available? Try these no rinse bathing wipes).

If you’re going to run commute often, we’d suggest keeping some of the essentials at work, rather than worrying about lugging them back and forth! Here’s a handy run-commuting checklist to get you started.

run commute checklist

  • Check the weather. You’ll want to make sure you’re running to work on a nice running day (for us, anywhere between 20° and 60° is the sweet-spot temperature-wise, but everyone has their own preferences). Precipitation doesn’t make it impossible, but it does complicate things.
  •  Map your route. You’ll want to make sure the distance is doable for you. If you’re planning on run-commuting only one-way, have a plan for the other direction (such as public transportation).
  1. Run to and/or from work

Enjoy the great views, like this one, you might see along the way.

Pittsburgh from South Side (1)

When you get to work, you’ll want to freshen up. If you’re not one of those lucky few with access to a shower, we recommend the no rinse wipes and some deodorant.

  1. Bask in your run-commuting glory

You did it! Grab a coffee and some breakfast and enjoy the feeling.

 

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Run ‘n Roll Duathlon Tour

We’re excited to announce our new Run ‘n Roll Duathlon Tour in partnership with Bike the Burgh Tours on October 15 – join us for a 2 mile running tour in the Strip District followed by a bike tour of Downtown and along the North Shore!

We’ll start with a 2 mile running tour of the Strip District to learn about this unique neighborhood where locals shop for produce and black & gold gear and then hop on our bikes for a biking tour into the financial and cultural districts and along the North Shore. Old and new buildings, city squares and public art will turn this run and ride into a unique event full of exciting discoveries of the ‘burgh.

Check out the event on Facebook and register at pittsburghrunningtours.com.

Welcome

Welcome to the Pittsburgh Running Tours blog! Here we’ll tell you all about our favorite spots around the ‘burgh, as well as give you tips on running (and not just how to run faster or longer, but how to make it more enjoyable).

We’re going to start off by answering a question we get a lot: What is a running tour?

The simple answer is that a running tour is exactly what it sounds like – a tour you participate in while running.

But it’s really more than that. Running tours are an active way to see a city, whether it’s a new-to-you city or the city where you grew up. The pace is usually kept casual, and there are multiple stops along the route where your guide will tell you about the history of the area and what you’re seeing. Cameras and extra stops for photos are highly encouraged, as is a good attitude and, of course, having fun!

To join a running tour of the ‘burgh, visit our calendar or give us a call at (412) 256-8640. Hope to see you on a tour soon!

Strip District 5k Tour
Owner, Trista Yerks, leads participants on a 5k running tour