I love being able to use my near daily runs to help discover the city. You really don’t want to stay too close to the interior of downtown if you plan to do some distance running. The hills are one thing, and crossing intersections can be another. It’s the plight you get from any large city. The easiest thing to do is to head towards the water or the park. There’s still a bunch of people you have to weave through, but there is no way you would want to run down a street such as Robson(which I have seen before).
Be careful about running in the park though. The Sea Wall is easy as long as the wind coming off the water isn’t too intense. Rain has never been a problem. You just have to not be afraid of getting wet. However, that route goes around all the neat trails you can take by actually going into the park. If you’ve never been in the park, you can get into trouble. Study the maps as well as you can before you think you can take an easy run to Beaver Lake. If you can’t handle the hilly terrain, stick to the sea wall.
Watch out for wildlife. Dogs, raccoons, and squirrels are all over the place. The last two want food from you. Dogs for the most part are incredibly tame around the city. Just today was the first time I was heckled and chased by a dog before the length on its leash ran out. Just the other day, an otter bolted out of the brush when I was on the Bridle Trail, just off of Second Beach. That was bizzare and cool all at the sametime. Rebecca says it was a beaver. Google images tell me that I saw an otter.