London is the fastest-paced city in the UK; it shouldn’t be a surprise that it is also one of the best UK cities for running. Whether you want a casual jog through a park, a sprint by one of the iconic waterways, or to get the health incentive by signing up for one of the London marathons, you won’t be short of options. And with the many running clubs and groups which welcome students from all walks of life (or should that be run?), there is no saying that you have to go solo while taking in some scenery and getting some exercise simultaneously!
A Student’s Guide to Running in London
Running Etiquette in London
As far as running in London etiquette goes, there aren’t too many rules to follow. However, there are a few pieces of guidance that you should take note of before you get your running shoes on.
- For your safety, stay on the righthand side of the road so that you are always running against traffic.
- If you are running as part of a group or a club, always ensure you are running in a single file or two abreast to leave room for other pedestrians.
- If you need to overtake another runner on your route, give them a friendly heads-up to prevent crashing into or startling them.
- If you prefer to run when the sun goes down, invest in some reflective clothing or accessories to ensure you are visible in the dark.
- Be careful where you run at night! Reagent’s Canal, Oxford Street and Brixton and Lambeth North should be crossed off your late-night running routes. For your safety, plan all park runs by daylight if you are running alone.
The Best Running Routes
The best running routes will depend on how far you want to roam, the terrain you amble across, what sights you want to take in and your experience level. However, this student’s guide to running in London wouldn’t be complete without suggesting a few of the most iconic and favoured running spots.
Two loops of Brockwell Park will help you complete a 5km run while stretching your legs and lungs on some steady climbs. Once you’re ready to relax post-run, you can grab a coffee or a quick bite from one of the many park eateries and cafes. The park is just a short walk (or run) from Brixton Underground and Herne Hill Station; even if it takes a couple of tube hops to get there, it is well worth the trip due to the unadulterated views of Herne Hill.
Even with all of the running options London has to offer, there is a reason why runners return to Battersea Park time and time again. Firstly, Battersea Park is easily accessible from all over London due to its by-the-river location. Secondly, there are 5k, 10k and trail running options on the East side of the park. As it is one of the flattest running spots in London, there is no better place to aim for your personal best! The nearest overground station is Battersea Park Railway Station.
If you are training for a marathon or a half-marathon, Hampton Court, situated along the Thames Towpath in Barnes, is undoubtedly the running route to hit. Distance-wise, you can set your own goals along the path. A half-marathon distance is easily doable if you clock out at the iconic Barnes Bridge. If you need a breather or a bite to eat along the way, the cafes in and around Richmond won’t leave you short of options. Unless you want to head to Hampton Court on foot, your best option is to take the Overground to Hampton Court Railway Station.
Follow in the footsteps of Simon Pegg in the cult-hit film Run Fatboy Run by taking on the running route in Hampstead Heath. This running route is hardly a wildcard option, but it is a classic for good reason. The stunning views and inclines make for a great workout setting. In the summer months, there is always the option to take a post-run dip to cool down too! Take the Northern Line to arrive at Hampstead Heath Station or the Hampstead Heath Overground.
If you find it hard to keep up the motivation while running solo, head to Olympic Park, where you will experience unlimited running motivation, knowing that you are working up a sweat in the same space where some of London’s greatest runners have perspired. Wherever you are coming from in London, there are great transport links to the site of the 2012 Olympic Games, where you can run a 5k, 10k or half-marathon.
The Best Running Groups and Clubs
If there are no running groups or clubs available via your student union, you always have the option of rallying a few fellow runners to form one. Or you can look farther afield for some fellow runners. A student’s guide to running in London wouldn’t be complete without a rundown of some of the longest-running groups and clubs always looking to recruit new members.
Joining a running group or club is a great way to keep motivated, get some running tips from more experienced runners, find a sense of community, connect with like-minded health enthusiasts and stay safe on your outdoor sprints!
If you are looking for the trendiest running group in London, you have undoubtedly found it with Run Dem Crew. Each week, the crew convenes in a new running location set by the group founder, Charlie Dark, who has become one of the biggest running influencers in London! The group meets up every Tuesday at 7 PM, and it costs nothing to get involved with them.
Keep on track with Track Life LDN, which meets every Monday at 6:30 PM at Battersea Park. The running moguls, including Rory Knight, Emma Kirk Odunubi and Omar Mansour, will help you to smash your personal best while giving you a few tips on how to get to the top of your running game. Each running session costs £13, but if you are serious about levelling up, it is more than worth the cost!
The Puresport Free Run Club sells itself as the most welcoming running club in London. Not only does it go through the effort of making all newbies feel at ease from their first meet-up, but the group also endeavours to keep spirits high for all attendees. The Free Run Club costs nothing to enter, and you can join the positivity crew every Wednesday in Battersea Park at 6:15. Don’t be late, or they will start without you!
The 5 Top Running Shops in London
Buying running gear online – especially trainers – is always a little hit or miss. If you’re serious about your running clobber, one of these revered London running shops will be happy to kit you out with everything you need. Generally speaking, your running kit should include the right running trainers for your gait, t-shirts/vests, leggings/shorts, and a lightweight jacket for when the rain inevitably pours!
There are multiple specialist Nike shops spread across the city of London, but if you have your heart set on the flagship store, head to the branch located in Oxford Circus. The running specialists there will help with gait analysis, and if you want to stand out from the rest of the running crowd, you can customise your running shoes as a courtesy of NikeID.
Runner’s Need is another running shop with branches throughout London in Chiswick, Camden, Islington, Kensington, Covent Garden and several other districts – you will undoubtedly find one relatively close to your campus! At the popular chain store, you can browse at your leisure or tell the running specialists your specific requirements. Before recommending a running shoe, they will factor in everything from the socks you wear to the terrain you will be tearing across.
If your brand loyalty lies with Asics, The Asics Flagship Stores dotted throughout the city will help you find your perfect fitting running shoes. The future-embracing flagship store on Oxford Street will give you a 3D scan of your feet in addition to running gait analysis.
A stone’s throw away from Liverpool Street Station lies one of the best London Running Shops for apparel. While the difference between tying a running shoe on in-store and hitting the pavement with them is night and day, SweatShop finds the perfect middle ground by allowing you to try your new kicks on a treadmill before you take off the price tags. The store is also perfect for customised insoles and in-store sports bra fittings. If that wasn’t enough, after a purchase, you also get access to online fitness support!
If you are embracing the barefoot running movement, there is no better store to head to than the VIVOBAREFOOT Concept Stores in Chiswick, Teddington, and Richmond. All stores have a wide selection of minimalist running shoes, with plenty of options for vegans. Triathletes will also undoubtedly be bowled over by the selection of swim-run trainers. If you’re still finding your feet with the concept of barefoot running, the VIVOBAREFOOT Concept Store can provide a 1-to-1 session with an expert for a fee.
The Biggest Running Marathons in London
While many half-marathons and marathons crop up through the city of London, there is only one London Marathon, and it just so happens to be one of the most popular running marathons in the world!
Every year, the London Marathon takes place in April; whether you want to do it for glory or charity, everyone is welcome – after registering for a place. The TCS London Marathon shouldn’t be taken lightly; if you’re wanting to test your stamina, check out some of the training plans available via the website – training plans are available for all fitness levels.
The TCS London Marathon route is a 26.2-mile stretch which takes runners from Windsor Castle and the White City Stadium. Eliud Kipchoge holds the men’s record for completing the marathon in 2:02:37 (2019). In the women’s elite race, no one has beaten Paula Radcliffe’s 2003 record of 2:15:25.
If you missed out on a spot for the London Marathon or prefer to run a half-marathon, grab a place at The Thames Meander Marathon. Reach the end, and you will receive a bespoke finisher’s medal. Even if you don’t get to the finish line in the Marathon, which takes place every year in Early March, you will enjoy the electric atmosphere and the stunning scenery of The Thames. The half-marathon costs £42 to enter, while the full marathon will set you back £50.
The Vanguard Way Marathon & Half-Marathon, which takes place in early August each year, is a great option for runners who prefer a country terrain to a smoky inner-city one. The trail takes runners through serene woodlands, quaint villages, and the open country. The route will be a little less smooth than the trails that allow you to stick to concrete, but it is worth it for the scenery alone! Entry to the full and half-marathon cost £40.
On the second of September, 2023, TRIBE and Maverick are hosting their biggest event yet to celebrate the power of community and raise awareness of the ramifications of modern slavery while helping participants to raise money for a worthy cause! Even though the terrain looks rough and rocky, the half and short marathons are great for runners of all experience levels, as long as serious elevation climbs aren’t an issue! To make this short and half marathon even more attractive, it costs £15 to enter!