This post is sponsored by Zappos.
I’m learning to love trail running, having reluctantly admitted that running the 2 miles up and down in Henley is not that fun for a long run. Not worrying about traffic lights, buggies or cars – the main obstacles are mud (!), dogs, sheep and the odd cyclist.
Living in London, I took for granted the fact that I could run whenever I wanted, along well-lit streets and around well maintained parks. However, I think if we moved back now, i would miss the freedom of the trails, the peace of the countryside and the challenge that trial running brings.
I want to sign up to more trail races going forward, and know that it’s something a lot of you are interested in too. However, you might think that living in cities, training on the trails isn’t always possible…
You’d be wrong!
There are pockets of trails in most big cities, especially those with dedicated green spaces. It’s about making the most of those (and your weekends to travel further afield). Here are a few of my favourite trail running spots in London…
Thames Towpath -> Putney to Richmond
I have clocked hundreds of mile along this stretch of the Thames towpath. Stretching from Putney, through Hammersmith, Barnes, Richmond and beyond into Teddington. It’s one of my favourite places to run, with no traffic lights, plenty of other friendly runners, dog walkers and cyclists. The path is wide, flat and a mixture of dirt and paved trails. I’ve run it happily in road shoes a number of times, I’ve also run it when it’s seriously muddy and regretted not being in trail shoe. It can flood at times of high tide, just be warned!
Starting from Theydon Bois tube station, you can enjoy the 6.6-mile circular route along the Oak Trail, taking in the Iron Age fort, local wildlife and beautiful fauna. Alternatively, you can forge your own way through the forest. It’s the perfect East London trail run, without needing a car to get to the start.
I’m wearing The North Face from Zappos – the Lucy brand has joined The North Face which means you’ll get their awesome fit and style within the TNF brand. I love the Run Wild t-shirt, its such a great reminder to be free on your runs. To get out into the wilderness, to literally…run wild! Of the outfit as a whole, the high waisted leggings are my favourite, they are thick, flattering (with a target mesh compression on the lower waist to support the core). These are great for running and gym workouts, but also as athleisure.
I’m taking these TNF Storm trainers with me to Malawi when I go for the Impact Marathon next month. I think they’ll be ideal for our walking safaris and for working on the volunteer projects (can’t wait to share more about the trip with you guys!). They are so comfortable, supportive and hardwearing. They have a lot of cushioning in them, which I really like, but I listened to the reviews online and went up half a size, which was perfect.
A national nature reserve, Richmond Park is home to wild deer, butterfly, wild flowers, bats, birds and plenty of other wildlife to keep an eye out for during your run. The Tamsin trail is 7.35 miles round the edge of the park, but there are a plethora of paths to explore – or you can forge your own. For those wanting to test the water with trail races, they also have some small, friendly 5K and 10K races, like this one I did in January.
At 320 hectares, this is London’s largest ancient parkland (not to be confused with Richmond Park as the largest Royal Park…confusing, I know), it plays host to many cross country runs, as well as catering to swimmers and cyclists alike. Those looking for hill training have come to the right place, with spectacular views rewarding those who make it up Parliament Hill. In fact, when training for the three peaks challenge, my friends and I came up to Hampstead Heath to get some miles into our legs (it rained so much we bailed after an hour!) There’s also a running track open to the public…
Hampton Court Park and Bushy Park
Do we still count this as London? Probably… Hampton Court Park is one of London’s Royal Parks, and for good reason. It is gorgeous, filled with wild deer and plenty of trails to explore. A loop of Hampton Court Park circumference is 5 miles, however the entrance to Bushy Park is just 200m away. You can also head out of the park onto the Thames tow path for miles on riverside running. These parks are the perfect weekend trail running spot, without having to travel too far – you could even join the OG parkrun at Bushy Park.
Personally, I’m going to continue mixing in trail running with my road training to help me get fitter and faster for my BQ attempt in Sept. I like doing some pf my long runs and my easy runs, where I don’t obsess over the pace, on the trails and can enjoy the peace and beauty around me, and embrace the joy of being out for a run!
Are you a trail or a road runner? Or enjoy a mixture of both?
I love a bit of off road running. I usually go to Wimbledon Common. Even though some ‘real trail runners’ told me that it’s not really trail running, that it’s just a park. Oh well, it’s still fun.
Yeah in reality it’s not really trail running but as close as you will get in SW London
P.S. When running Rome marathon recently I passed a Wimbledon common runner 🙂
Hi Charlie great choice of runs of which I have done 3 before and as you say they all brilliant options
At some point this year (or next lol) I want to run the 25 miles and 24 bridges from Hampton Court to Tower bridge. 🙂
I’ve also fallen more in love with trails in the past year or two, and there are so many great options in London and slightly further afield. I’m glad you mentioned Hampstead Heath, in my neck of the woods. I get a little bit lost every time I run there, and it’s magical. There’s a nice non-XC trail race in September on the Heath: the Jubilee Hall Trust 5k/10k. You forgot Trent Park (Cockfosters) – loads of trails, and I’d highly recommend the June Triffic Trail 10k there.