Where to go running in Abu Dhabi

The city's best free spots for jogging

We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort,” Jesse Owens, Olympic champion.

“I just felt like running,” Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump.

“I only run because I really, really like food,” internet meme.

If you browse the internet long enough you will find a jogging quote that perfectly sums up your thoughts on exercise. From the beginner looking to swap the couch for the running track to the endurance athlete who thinks marathons are for wimps there is a snappy saying out there that perfectly encapsulates your views on this most universal of pastimes.

You don’t, to recycle another well-worn line, race against the clock or other people – you race against yourself.
So if you’re looking to shed a few of those festive pounds (or just want a new healthy hobby for 2018), escape the treadmill and enjoy an outdoor session. Here are ten great running routes to try in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Corniche
The perfect city run. Seriously. Quite apart from being flat, with a dedicated running track (the softer surface is better for your joints and slightly less abrasive when you fall down exhausted) and having an incredible view of the Arabian Gulf and Abu Dhabi skyline it stretches to fit your energy levels. From Lake Park along to Hilton Abu Dhabi is close to 5km, so go back and forth along that route for constantly changing scenery (the four walls of the gym will never compete) to find your level. There are lots of grassy verges to lay down on when you need to catch your breath and more refreshment stops than a big-city marathon.

Al Raha Beach

Running between a couple of supermarkets might seem like the most Abu Dhabi way imaginable to train, but this canal-side route is picturesque and competitive. Start from the Waitrose in Al Zeina and time how long it takes you to reach the Spinneys three or four kilometres down the waterside track. If that is too easy, and you’re not already loaded up on sports drinks and snacks, then push on ahead along the same track as far as the Al Raha Beach Hotel for a respectable 6km workout.

Al Wathba Cycle Track

We know, we know it says “cycle track”. But take the drive out of the city to this Abu Dhabi gem and you can create your own desert run. There are circuits for 8, 16, 20, 22 and 30km so you can stretch your legs out almost the whole way up to marathon level. The great thing about this location is that you get all the beauty and sense of place of running through the dunes (either side of the track are stretching sands), plus the flat, safe and well-maintained surface of a road. So leave the bike at home and get jogging.

Eastern Mangroves
How many times has Time Out suggested kayaking in the mangroves as an Abu Dhabi highlight? If you’re still not convinced then the least you can do is take a closer look as you jog along the waterside path that overlooks the Eastern Mangroves. We like this route for an early morning or sunset stride for that atmospheric urban workout with beautiful views of nature.

Umm Al Emarat Park
Parkrun is an international fitness phenomenon that has, so far, not yet reached our shores. With more than four million participants around the world it is a grassroots running movement that proves remarkably addictive. Although there is no official association here in Abu Dhabi there are numerous green spaces that attracts joggers. Our favourite being this massive, multi-activity park. The perfect rectangle of the park’s perimeter measures about a mile and you can add as many laps as you want/can/need to build your circuit.

Yas Marina Circuit
Words cannot express how much we love the fact that the doors to this iconic motorsports facility are handed over to joggers a couple of nights a week. StartYAS (Sunday nights from 6pm), TrainYAS (Tuesday nights from 6pm) and GoYAS (ladies’ nights on Wednesdays from 6pm) see hundreds of pairs of trainers replace F1 cars as the means of transporting bodies around the 5.5km track. Just to be clear – you don’t run around the boundary of the stadium, but are actually allowed to get on the track itself and run – with encouragement from a fine fitness community – in the exact same spot that the cars go. Don’t worry, they’re parked up for the duration.

Zayed Sports City
The hub of all things athletic in the city. Obviously there are various pitches, tracks and parks to plod around with a stopwatch, but the general sportiness in the air make the pavements of the entire district just as viable to train on. Despite the lack of a dedicated running track the streets are well lit and traffic is minimal so you won’t get the same strange looks from motorists as you do when you jog along Hamdan Street during rush hour.

Jog your memory

Running apps can motivate, encourage and even improve your fitness performance. Download these incredible apps to make your workout that bit smarter.

If you don’t post your personal best time along the Corniche and back on Facebook, did you even go for a run? Every time you see a fitter and speedier friend update their social media feeds they have probably been using this very clever and hyper-competitive app. Share details of your runs with friends and other Strava users and aim to become the most prolific runner in the city.
Free for iPhone and Android.

Discover new routes, log times and track your performance on runs through city streets and past local landmarks. Then set challenges for other runners to beat your times or even join you on a regular evening dash.
Free for iPhone and Android.

Zombies, Run!
Not fussed about analysing your gait, recording times and tracking performance analytics, but just want to plod along and avoid boredom? This narrative-driven fitness app swaps sports science for science fiction and creates virtual checkpoints and storylines which are progressed by how far you run. Confused? Probably. Inspired to run an extra lap just so you put some yards between you and a mob of the undead? Definitely.
Free for iPhone and Android.

Run with the pack

Don’t think the loneliness of the long-distance runner is for you? Join a club and keep in step with others.

Abu Dhabi Striders
Runners of all ages, nationalities and abilities have been stepping out together since 1984 thanks to this fabulous community sport group. Competitive runners will almost surely find somebody at their level and there are regular join in and push on training routes across the city and throughout the week. Find a pace and distance you are comfortable with and get in your stride.
Visit www.abudhabistriders.com for details.

Abu Dhabi Tri Club
Striving to take your fitness regime to another level? Well, as if just pounding the streets on a lengthy jog was not a suitable way to signal your good intentions some people want to throw in a swim and a cycle as well. And all credit to them. This amateur sports club regularly organises races and training sessions and is a good meeting point for endurance-loving athletes.
Visit www.facebook.com/AbuDhabiTriClub for details.

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