Written by Jack Boardman
Running In The City
You might well think that city running has more negatives than positives. Between the cars, human traffic, stop signs and track defects you perhaps imagine yourself stopping and starting more than you’ll be feeling the wind in your hair. You’d be wrong – at least, with a little planning, you’d be wrong.
Even running in the great outdoors through open fields requires some planning in order to exercise exactly as you’d wish. By getting to know your surroundings, you’ll be able to pre-plan a route that factors in everything you want to avoid. For example, unless you can go for a jog early in the morning or late at night so that you avoid peak traffic there will always be cars on the roads, meaning you will be confined to pavements.
You’ll want to avoid stopping too often to cross, so find a route that avoids any traffic lights that will stop you. If you do have to stop at lights, remember to keep moving on the spot so that you keep your heart rate up and so your muscles don’t cool down.
If there is the potential for a long, flat straight, plan around so that you can increase intensity and sprint when you get the chance.
Being the city, you know that there will be some areas more populated than others – particularly around shops and beer gardens if the weather’s fine. The pavement’s for everyone and not just for people trying to train, so avoid any areas where you’ll be weaving in and out of crowds or brought to a stop.
Whereas running in a more rural area certainly has its appeal, many popular marathons and regional running events take place in the city centre. So training on tarmac is precisely where you want to be in preparation for these.
Find a partner, or, better yet, a group. There is more to just the safety of having a running buddy and a second pair of eyes to watch out for potential hazards. As in the gym, a training partner can do wonders for your motivation, talking you into it when you talk yourself out. They can also serve as a pacemaker, setting your speed so you don’t fall behind and perhaps create a competitive element. Think about it, with a treadmill one of the perks is that you set a few dials and let the machine keep your pace for you; outdoors you may need to find ways to stay consistent and advance.
That said, if it’s the freedom to do your own thing that you’re looking for, going solo could be your answer.
Make the most of available technology. Apps and equipment are available that will help you to monitor your speed, distance and heart rate if you want to track how you’re getting on and compare to your last run. Furthermore, you could use a map app to pre-plan a suitable route that at the very least limits the number of roads you’ll need to pause to cross.
As for gear, the benefit of running outside is that it’s free and doesn’t require membership or equipment. Or does it? Even if you make it a few miles and then home, without the right pair of shoes your dogs will be barking and blistered, and you could even suffer knee and ankle injuries. Running on concrete means your joints will suffer more impact than they would on a treadmill or softer rural terrain. You need to bear this in mind before setting off. Quality trainers that provide the right support and counter the harsh impact of the concrete will make all the difference to how you perform, how long you last and how you’ll recover after – a very worthy investment!
Further to this, breathable, unrestrictive clothing is always a good idea. Many city runners swear by compression base layers to help circulation, keep your muscles warm and also for how compression can help with recovery for your tired muscles after.