Running has been a fantastic way to explore my city. It’s given me the chance to learn so much more about the sprawling metropolis I live in. I am currently slightly extremely nostalgic about running since I am currently unable to get out there, and my way of coping with this is to share with you some of the places I’ve discovered or re-discovered, and why they mean so much to me as a runner.
1. Past St. Thomas’s Hospital
This is one of the top hospital trusts in the world. It was also where I had heart surgery twice as a teenager. All my memories of St. Thomas’s were pretty traumatic given the circumstances, but now with the benefit of hindsight, I love going past it. My heart swells a little with gratitude that they fixed my poor ticker. It also reminds me that (cue violins), I’m lucky to be alive. I’m lucky that my heart condition was minor and very easily fixed. It could easily have been so much worse. So thank you St. Thomas’s, for letting me run free.
2. Clapham Common
It was on Clapham Common that my first really really great run took place. To set the scene, I hadn’t run for around 4 months due to shin splints followed by the craziness of setting up a project overseas for my company. I was headed to the airport that evening to catch a flight to Mexico for a *gulp* undefined period of time. If I ever needed a run, it was that day. So I headed out with absolutely no expectations. I wasn’t even sure I could run the 3 miles around the common without stopping for breath. But I did. It cleared my head, and being a small but concrete achievement, it made me feel very slightly better about leaving the country. And needless to say I slept very well during my flight.
3. The City (Weekends only)
For any non-Brits out there, the City of London is, confusingly, a different entity entirely than London itself. I don’t really want to get into that; we’d be here all day. But The City is essentially the financial capital of the UK; all the major banks and corporations are there, and it’s hectic during the week. However it’s an amazing place to go exploring at the weekend, as it’s more or less a ghost town. It’s a bewildering juxtaposition of old winding streets and glistening skyscrapers. Also if you run past the Bank of England, you are literally running on gold. I mean, the reserves are deep down in vaults somewhere, but it’s kind of cool to think you’re basically running over Gringott’s.
4. The Royal Parks
Ok, this actually refers to a rather large portion of London, but that’s exactly why I feel so lucky to be living where I am- we have so much green space in comparison to other capital cities. My favourite route at the moment goes from my front door, up a large hill, to the Observatory at Greenwich, which gives you a stunning panoramic view of London.
5. Along the Thames
The Thames runs through the heart of London, so again, ‘along the Thames’ refers to quite a large area. There’s something gorgeous about a river breeze that I love. The South Bank can be a nightmare at even the best of times, thanks to its status as a major tourist trap. But alternatively, you can start at Tower Bridge and run eastwards towards the Cutty Sark and Greenwich, which is precisely what my running club does every Sunday. Maybe my memories of Sunday long runs are so fond because I always find someone to chatter along to, to get to know people (and regulate my pace!)
So tell me, where are your favourite places to run? Any London runners out there?