Running in London is one of the best ways to see the city, not only is it free, but it’s also a great way to stay fit and healthy!
Whether you’re in London for a few days or a week, as a tourist or for business, you might even live here and you’re looking for a change from your usual running route, or pounding on the treadmill at the local gym.
London has got some of the best parks in the world, and it is also one of the most scenic cities for architecture and iconic buildings. There is so most history here you could spend the whole year running around the streets of London and still see something new every time.
Choosing where to run and the time of day is important, as you don’t want go running though Piccadilly Circus around 5pm - to many tourists, or try running through Kensington Gardens at 5am - most likely closed. Hiring a local Personal Trainer, joining a running club or signing up to a running tour are all great ways to see London if your unfamiliar with the city. Another option if you want to run solo is download an app. Map My Run has hundreds of routes to choose from, so you will never get lost.
Here are my four favorite places to go running around London.
So if you want to see the iconic and historical sights of London, its best to get up early to avoid the morning rush. The streets have been cleaned and they are people and traffic free. Depending on where you start your run, there are many routes to take and sights to see. One of the best is the Thames River run starting at Tower Bridge or Houses of Parliament. Running along the north side of the river is around 4.5km one way. Cross over the Thames on Tower Bridge or Westminster Bridge to make the return journey. This run can be done anytime of the day or night but it can get a bit congested around the tourist sights during the day and early evening.
City of London – The Square Mile
Historically, this is the oldest area of London. Dating back to the 1st century AD when the Romans first settled here and built the London wall. Back then London was known as Londinium. This is one of my favorite places to go running and explore. Home to the London stock Exchange and the Bank of England, see remaining sections of the wall in Barbican estate and on Cooper’s Row, lots of hidden gems to discover. Run and lose yourself!
Running around the Square Mile is best done on the weekends when the City is closed, not a single person to e seen.
Royal Parks and Palaces
Hyde Park, Kensington Park and St James's Park are all great to run in. Run past Horse Guards Parade where you will see the Changing of the Guard and through St James's Park towards Buckingham Palace. Head up constitution Hill and though Wellington Arch into Hyde Park running along the banks of the Serpentine and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain followed by the former residence of the Princess – Kensington Palace, set in Kensington Gardens.
This can be done anytime during the day, remembering that most of the Parks in central London are closed after dusk and they re-open at first light. Best to check the Royal Parks website if you are concerned. It’s a 5km run in one direction.
Richmond Park – Wildlife Run
Looking to run wild and off the pavement, then head to Richmond Park, South West London. The largest of the capital's eight Royal Parks and the biggest enclosed space in London. The park is a National Nature Reserve and home to herds of Red and Fallow deer, around 600 in total. If you follow the main cycle route around the park it is approximately 10km in distance, but I would suggest going cross-country and getting lost, you can always stop to ask for directions to the nearest gate before closing time. Another good park to go cross-country without the deer is Hampstead Heath in North London.
About the author:
Peter Sleight has been working as a Personal Trainer since 1996, originally from Australia but now living in the UK as an Advanced Level 4 Personal Trainer and Exercise Specialist. From a London base, Peter manages FitFastTrainers - a personal training company which provides flexible personal trainers on demand that come to you - at your work place or at home.