Runner’s Guide to London: routes and tips for a different kind of tourism

30 November, 2016

If you are planning a trip to London, and you have any space left in your case for the trainers (if these ones were not the first thing you pack), probably you are looking for some running routes in London.
If so, and you have not yet found a nice place to run around, you are in luck! This small guide can be very helpful. We have selected, thanks to the experts in the field, the following tips that should be taken into account.

Where to go running in London?

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London is a city where people run every day, in almost any part of the city. It is not unusual if you walk through the center and, particularly, around the city, to see a group of runners with their pack. Almost certainly they are going to or coming from their office, and inside that backpack they bring nice clothes.

Curiosity: Did you know the official marathon distance (42.195m) is such since the 1908 Summer Olympics, as the royal family requested the original layout should be longer to see the departure from Windsor Castle and the arrival to the Olympic Stadium?

Which running clothes should I bring to London?

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First of all, keep in mind the weather conditions in London. It is a city where it can rain at any time of year, so don’t forget to take a light rain jacket just in case.
Then you may find quite cold temperatures from November to the middle of March, so long tights, pants and gloves will not be bad choice.

Don’t let the cold or rain stop you from enjoying a city so full of choices!

When go running?

If you are on holidays, it is normal to start running early in the morning. This way, you will have all day long for tourist activities with your companions. If you travel in pairs or group and no one wants to go running with you, you can use that time to find new places to visit or where to have breakfast when everyone else get up.

But also running at night in London is a very good option, especially on the routes along the River Thames. One of the advantages of the tourist runner is that, at a stroke, you can visit the Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London and the Shakespeare’s Globe without taking the underground.

If your option is to go running between 9 am and 8 pm, please note the tourist areas will be crowded. London is a city full of tourists! and probably it will not be a good idea if you are going to do sightseeing in a hurry.

London running routes

River Thames running

Underground: Monument, London Bridge, Temple, Westminster or any stop close to the river

Running along the banks of the River Thames is a runner tourist experience so interesting. But keep in mind that in the city centre there is no a small road next to the riverbed for running and sometimes people should share the same route with passengers or walkers or cross any street / park.
Take it easy and don’t try to set a new record. Simply choose the interesting points you want to visit, and connect them running quietly and enjoying every moment.
If you do it well, you will run a 5-7-km route enjoying, at the same time, the best tourist attractions.

A tip: Don’t forget your phone to take a selfie while enjoying the run!

Hyde Park running

Underground: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch

Together with the Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park has almost 8.5 kms in perimeter. Running throughout the park is an excellent training plan, but maybe you get lost in some parts of the area. You will see it is a great spot for athletes of all kinds, as hundreds of Londoners gather there to practice such exotic sports like softball. A good tip is to do a route without planning anything, finding new ways and listening to your legs. Come on, what is called # Run4Fun. But don’t miss to see some mythical places like the Speaker’s Corner, where Sunday mornings you can find all kinds of speakers. You can also discover places to visit as the popular Diana Memorial Fountain, Achilles statue, one of Isis, Peter Pan and even a statue in memory of animals in war.

Tip: You can add to your sports-fun day a boat ride on the Serpentine.

Mile End Park running

Underground: Mile End

The Mile End Park is located on the east side of the town, which covers an area that was devastated by the bombings of the Second World War. There you will find some dirt roads, perfect for training. There are some areas where the cyclists are the real players, but its nearly 5 km gives you a perfect plan as if you were a real Londoner.

Also, if you would like to do something special, the park has a modern stadium allowing the access for a little run on the track. So if you are a fan of tartan, in London you can even enjoy it.

Tip: If you are traveling with children, they will have a great time in the playgrounds. So, ask them to join you in the trip to London!

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Underground: Stratford

If you want to feel the real Olympic spirit, you should know that this park was built for the 2012 London Olympic Games, and provided the facilities of the Olympic Village. So it is perfect to practice sport. Take a tour and visit the facilities where many competitions in 2012 were hold and feel like a true Olympian!

If you have the chance to go there on a Saturday, every week at 9.00 am a popular 5km-race is held, you can join it at the following site. It is free and also you will get a free coffee. What else?

Tip: Surely you want to use your time visiting the Olympic Stadium, but don’t forget to discover the ArcelorMittal tower for going down the world’s longest slide.

Bonus track: Monopoly route

You will love the following route / challenge that we found.
Have you ever thought about playing Monopoly in London, but in a big way? On the Runners Guide to London website (strongly recommended to take a look) you will find the instructions. It is about to visit those streets and monuments which are part of the popular Hasbro game, the London edition, and take a picture to its plate. Whoever gets more in 60 minutes will win!

Tip: In this game you will have to cross many streets. Remember in London there is left-hand traffic, look both ways before crossing.

Joining a race in London

Another option you shouldn’t miss, if you are totally a crazy runner, is to join a race. London is plently of choices almost every week. Few of them are held in the center (imagine the mess), but if you are interested in discovering the city in a different way, here you are the most interesting options for joining a race in London:

London 10Ks, half marathons and the London Marathon

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London running races in March:

  • Salomon Richmonds Half & 10k. Defined itself as “the first multisuperficie London race” the half marathon and 10K offer guaranteed fun. Not surprisingly, according to the website “all finishers will get a pair of technical socks, a medal, a buff for the head and a morning full of fun and enjoyment.”

In April:

  • London Marathon. If we speak about running in London is impossible not to say anything about the famous 42k. It is one of the 6 world’s majors running races. Why? Thanks to its excellent organization and the fact that is really a high demanded-race. In 2016 nearly 250000 runners asked for its place in the run, but only 39000 were finally selected. Getting a place by lot is complicated but it is worth trying. It ends at St James Park, can you imagine yourself crossing the finish line?

In July:

  • British 10k – London Run. This charity run for kidney cancer research through the streets of the city centre of London, with a nice tour around Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge. There is not yet a confirmed date for 2017, but you can sign up on its website to be informed.

Running races in September:

  • Richmond Running Festival. A party running plus 10k half marathon, marathon and one mile for children. 10k is a great way to explore the Kew botanical garden, in the west part of the city. You can get there in about 50 minutes by bus from the city centre.

Running races in October:

  • Royal Parks Half Marathon. An urban half marathon around the three London bigger parks and many of the tourist attractions of the city. Highly recommended for its atmosphere, route and (important) weather. Running through the streets of London in October can be a great experience.

London running races in November:

  • London Run in the Dark. With a charitable purpose, this race belongs to “Run in the Dark” series, held in different cities around the world. It takes place at the Battersea Park Road, across the Chelsea neighborhood, the timetable: 8 pm, perfect for a little run and then enjoy London’s night. The distances are 5 and 10 kms. Perfect if you are a “late freak runner”!

If you are still not convinced with this selection, you will find a complete list on the Runners Guide to London website.

We hope this guide for runners in London have helped you to plan the best way to travel to this city. Enjoy it!

By Chema Martínez (not the Spanish champion but the other)

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