Do it like Kipchoge
Amid the hustle and bustle of Nairobi’s streets hide beautiful running routes that are sure to keep you motivated. Coupled with Nairobi’s high elevation, these paths are sure to keep you fit all year long.
Most people don’t realize that the elevation in Nairobi makes a huge difference. Nairobi elevation is 1,795 metres (5,889 ft). Kenyan runners are some of the best in the world for a reason. Kenyan running Eliud Kipchoge broke world records in 2019 at a marathon in Vienna, Austria with a finishing time of 1:59:40. For decades runners have used high altitude training to achieve a “natural blood doping effect”. Oxygen levels decrease at high altitudes leaving less oxygen to transport to your muscles. Training at high altitudes consistently over time increases the work load of your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Professional runners tend to train at 8,000 feet (2438 meters) above sea level. For casual, non-professional runners, Nairobi’s altitude is just right.
When running on secluded streets or paths it’s important to remember “safety first”. Refrain from running in the wee hours of the morning or late at night. Periodically, runners have been robbed of their phones or valuables on their route. If you must run during these times, choose a route that is well populated with people and switch up your path, as well as the time you run periodically. If you are approached by someone with a gun or weapon, do not hesitate, give them all of your valuables and keep it moving. Your items are replaceable, you are not.
Some routes are littered with cars and can be a bit difficult to navigate as a result. While it’s okay to listen to music on these routes, be aware of cars driving around corners. It can be tempting to run in the street if the sidewalk is broken, but try to (as much as possible) refrain from doing this.
1. Arboretum (Kileleshwa)
The Arboretum is a beautiful spot for picnic and a casual run. The brick and dirt trails are well maintained and the park is quite safe. The largest loop around the outskirts of the park is around 2.5km, not very long, but great for getting practice in on a repeated trail.
2. Kikambala Road to Oloitoktok Road (Kilimani – Kileleshwa)
These beautiful, well paved roads run from Kilimani straight through Killeleshwa. It features beautiful rolling hills, blue skies and pristine views. This route is perfect for toning and training. The hills will be a challenge for beginner runners when you start, but as you strength builds its sure to become your favorite run.
3. Karura Forest
Karura Forest is an old favorite for runners in Nairobi. The trails are safe, well maintained, and plentiful. Be warned that plastic bottles are not allowed in the forest, so bring your own water bottle to hydrate. Read our article here for updated opening hours.
4. Lavington Mall – James Gichuru (Lavington)
Lavington is a beautiful suburb nestled within the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. The path is relatively well paved, with a moderate amount of cars passing. Get started by running from Lavington Mall along James Gichuru. Then, as you get more familiar with running routes, try dipping down some of the beautiful neighborhoods that surround the area.
The benefit of running in Westlands is that there is an adequate amount of sidewalk and the hills tend to be less steep. The detriment is that there tends to be a lot traffic (foot and car) during rush hour. It’s completely navigable, but can take some runners out of the zone. Get started by running along the Waiyaki Way highway and try dipping into some of the side streets along the way as you continue.