The emergence of hot weather is one of the main factors that many of us decide to get into shape. It’s beach bodies galore in a town that doesn’t have, erm, any beaches. But us Londoners won’t allow a lack of sand and sea to stop us when it comes to getting fit in the warmer months. When the blue skies are clear (and even when they’re not), going for a run becomes the go-to method for many of us wanting to tighten up those glutes and burn some calories.
In fact, running is so popular in London that it has become as essential to our daily routines as a morning cup of coffee. Whether you’re a casual runner or full-on enthusiast armed with a Fit Band and wireless headphones, there are plenty of running routes dotted around the capital to meet your needs.
But which areas in London afford the best places to go for a jog? While it’s not a straightforward question to answer - some prefer secluded routes, others want to avoid roads, and some like to run in groups - with the help of Endomondo, we have selected seven of the best areas to run in London.
Nine Elms, SW8
There is a total of 52 running routes in Nine Elms, giving residents of Nine Elms plenty of options. We certainly think the area is a pleasurable place to go for a light jog or intensive run, especially since most of the SW8 postcode is set to the rather scenic backdrop of the River Thames. Running by the water: how lovely.
Nine Elms has been the centre point of significant regeneration lately that has seen the US Embassy move into the area. The result has been a selection of brand new residential developments and the refurbished Battersea Power Station, which is set to breathe a new lease of life into this once sleepy part of South-West London.
Blackfriars Road, SE1
Runners taking to Blackfriars Road are spoilt for choice, with 66 routes available to them. It’s also another route that features the refreshing backdrop of the Thames and has proven to be popular for many running routes to and from work, thanks to its proximity to the City. Just make sure your office has a shower if you’re going on a morning run during the daily grind.
Situated in the London Borough of Southwark, Blackfriars Road sits on the edge of South-East London and heads towards the heart of the City. Over the last decade, developers have invested in the area, constructing a number of luxury residential developments overlooking the Thames.
Ok, so it seems like the River Thames is starting to play quite a significant factor in our running routes. After all, it does take up a fair portion of the capital. However, a running experience in Barnes is going to be eminently different from one in Nine Elms or Blackfriars Road. Expect plenty of greenery, pleasant lanes, and village vibes as you take to one of the area’s 62 running routes.
Leafy Barnes is certainly up there when it comes to sought-after places to live in London. It’s more village-y vibes than sprawling London town, and is often desired by families thanks to its selection of good schools. While shiny new developments heavily influence properties in our previous entries, Barnes provides a somewhat more charming selection with several period properties that blend in well with the area.
East Putney, SW15
South London hasn’t exactly garnered a reputation for its easy access to tube stations, but East Putney is one of the areas in the south with Underground access, thanks to its District Line connection. However, with 40 running routes in East Putney, you don’t even need to jump on the tube, and can instead focus on keeping fit in the SW15 postcode.
Along with favourable travel links, East Putney offers a selection of local eateries, bars and parks that draw a young and lively crowd. There is a good mixture of new developments and period homes which afford residents a choice when it comes to the type of property where they want to live.
Chalk Farm, NW1
With 38 different running routes, you won’t be short of choices when going for a daily sprint in the North-West London area of Chalk Farm. If running to the backdrop of a vibrant Camden scene full of alternative styles, or heading towards Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill is your thing, then Chalk Farm is most certainly the running area for you.
It’s conveniently positioned between the edge of Camden’s most eccentric parts and the affluent Belsize Park, giving residents the best of both worlds. On one side of you there is a vibrant nightlife scene, funky markets and concert venues; on the other there are gastro pubs, boutique shops and residential streets.
With its large houses, tree-lined streets and wide roads, Beckenham is pleasing on the eye when it comes to running in the capital. With only 11 routes, there are other areas with more options, but sometimes less is more, and that is most certainly the case with the BR3 postcode, where you can always expect a peaceful jog.
Beckenham might not share a London postcode, but with a train service to Victoria in just 20 minutes, as well as enjoying a location less than two miles to South London, it’s very much an honorary member of the capital. In fact, many people have had their eyes opened to 'Becks’ thanks to its green scenery, quaint high street and affordable rental prices -one-bed properties average less than £1,000 per month.
Finsbury Park, N4
Image by Hugh Flouch under CC licence
It’s not all festivals and funky bars in the North-London area of Finsbury Park; there just so happens to be more than 30 routes for you to schedule some serious running time. Whether you’re crossing the actual park or hitting the outskirts of Angel and Clerkenwell, Finsbury Park provides plenty of options for hardcore and casual runners.
If you can manage to pull yourself away from your running route, take some time to enjoy a picnic (you’ve earned it, surely?) in Finsbury Park or hop on the Piccadilly Line and find yourself in the heart of London in less than 15 minutes. The area’s strong sense of community means that most people who move there end up staying for the long term.
Just do it
We’d also love to know where you run and what your favourite running routes are in the capital. Planning any marathons? Please do share your running experiences with us in the comments below.