Ask for a headtorch as a present this winter if you want to run The City

Forget January’s gym bonanza. Run in Clerkenwell’s parks and streets, and you’ll be better off and healthier, says teacher and runner Katherine Bridges

A man runs past the camera underneath the Barbican estate
Photo by James Kirkup on Unsplash

As the days become shorter, it becomes easier to stay indoors, hit the sofa, start a Netflix series and avoid physical activity. Soar- ing prices of monthly gym memberships in the borough may be an exercise deterrent and a return to group classes post-lockdown combined with shortening days and darker evenings has led to a considerable drop off in people hitting the street to exercise. In addition, road running is especially challenging during peak commuting hours when the pavements are crammed with workers.

But running may be your solution and there’s a reason why so many of London’s noteworthy races (including London Landmarks 10k. Cancer Research UK Winter Run, The Great City Race) take place in and around our area.

Having had the privilege of living in Clerkenwell for the past five years, I have taken part in many races that traverse the city, loop around St Paul’s Cathedral and wind their way through the heart of the ancient capital. As well as these races, I’ve come to learn that training runs around our area can be more enjoyable than cardio in a comfortably air-conditioned gym, with the cityscape revealed around each corner. Passing beautiful churches and illuminated office buildings at dusk is for me, far better than grinding along on the elliptical, while the ominous chime of work emails constantly interrupts your playlist. With running, you have the opportunity to switch off, there’s no wait for a treadmill, and there’s certainly no worries about the cost of the gym.

I’ve gradually learnt that the best way to experience running in Clerkenwell is to aim early. Try a new wake-up routine that includes an early morning run rather than a caffeine hit. Not only do you miss the commuter rush, but you also have an adequate chance of seeing the sunrise over the Thames, reflecting through the skyscrapers.

For many, the pull of a runner’s high and the perfect highlight photo on joggers app Strava might not be enough to get out of bed. Understandably so, especially when it’s a damp and dark start to the day. It’s for this reason that I’d recommend adding a headtorch and a reflective running jacket to your Christmas list. These essentials will ensure that your early morning or evening run is as enjoyable and as safe as possible, giving you back the hours that winter evenings have taken.

Now is the time to celebrate all we have achieved through the summer, prepare for the calorie crunch of the holiday season, and anticipate new goals for the coming year. If fitness is a priority for you, instead of another burdensome gym contract, consider lacing up your trainers and running the beautiful streets of Clerkenwell.

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