According to the lyrics of traditional Rugby anthem Jerusalem, England is a “green and pleasant land” which sounds like its length and breadth must be a runner’s paradise. And while some inner city areas might not make the best places to run, there are indeed a huge number of places you can run in the UK.
It would be impossible to list each and every top running venue in the UK in a single article – there are probably 20 great running hotspots in greater London alone – so in this article we’ll list the best types of running venue that you should be able to find near to or within an hour or twos drive from where you live…
The countryside – if you live in a town or city, you probably do a lot of your running accompanied by the noise of traffic and the smell of petrol fumes while pounding the pavements. If you want change from all this urban chaos, consider hopping in your car or on the train and heading out of the city and into the countryside. Not only is the air cleaner, the lack of traffic makes for a more peaceful, quieter run and you’ll have plenty to see as you explore a new area.
Urban parks – if a trip to the countryside isn’t practical, seek out one of the many urban parks that are found in even the most built up towns and cities. A haven from traffic, running through a park can help you take a break from the hubbub of city living and is arguably much safer and enjoyable than running on the roads. Watch out for dogs though!
The beach – running on sand is a uniquely demanding experience as every step you take causes the sand to shift which makes for a much more challenging workout. The sea breeze is invigorating and running on a promenade next to the sea as the waves crash against the shore in winter is always exhilarating.
Running tracks – running on a track is a great way to improve your running and measure your progress. While you can do interval training almost anywhere, to get the most from this type of running workout, it’s best if you know exactly how far and how fast you are running. Running tracks also provide the ideal traffic-free location for speed work and time trials. Hitting the track once or twice a month is a sure-fire way to improve your running technique and you will probably meet other like minded runners with whom you can swap training tips and race info.
River paths – most cities have rivers running through them and most rivers are paralleled by traffic-free paths. These paths are inevitably flat and smooth and make for ideal running venues. Many waterways are home to wildlife, boats and, of course, other runners and provide a great sanctuary from the busy roads that, often, are very close by.
City centres – running around a city, especially early in the morning or late at night, can give you an entirely different perspective of where you live or work; you’ll see so much more compared to being in a bus or car. If you normally commute to work, try packing your clothes into a backpack and running to work instead. Inevitably you’ll take less time and arrive at work knowing your workout is done for the day. If you do run in areas of heavy traffic or in the dark, make sure you wear high visibility clothing.
Sports pitches – if your joints are sore from too much pavement pounding, you would probably benefit from running on grass and one of the most accessible places to do this is your local sports pitch. Traffic free and flat, a sports pitch is also a great place for interval training and speed work.
Cycle paths – most cities have specially designated cycle paths that also are ideal for running. Some cycle paths run parallel major roads while others follow old train tracks or canal tow paths. Either way, these traffic-free paths are ideal for runners; just make sure you give cyclists the right of way as they are not as good at stopping or changing direction as you are!
There is no reason to do the same old pavement run day after day, week after week. With a little research, forethought and planning, you should be able to find plenty of alternative routes so you never get bored of running.
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