5 tips for training in the city
by Georgia Tindley
After graduating from university last Summer I moved from Edinburgh to London. I worried about how I would settle into this bustling city and, of course, how this would affect my training. In the past year I have learnt a lot about adapting to training in a big city, and how to keep this relevant to running in the hills.
1. SPEEDWORK IS THE KEY
Use your time in the city to learn to run fast on the flat. This may be a style of running that you would never use in a long distance mountain race, but it brings huge benefits. Interval and Fartlek sessions are great for building fitness that will boost your endurance and speed in any race. Getting your body accustomed to running flat and fast will also help you in tricky transition stages in a race; finding your normal stride when you finally reach the flat after a long ascent will be much easier if you’re used to running this way.
2. Run early
London, and most big cities, are famed for their constant business. Running early in the morning is the best way to avoid the hustle and bustle, and maximise the enjoyability of your run. This is especially true come Summer when tourists flood the city and air pollution can reach dangerous levels later in the day. The streets are quieter, the air is clearer, and you’ll feel amazingly smug for the rest of the day.
3. EMBRACE TWO WHEELS
Living in central London finding hills to train on can be difficult. The famed ‘hill’ of Richmond Park can be ascended in no time! Instead I switch to cycling to build the necessary muscles for hill climbing. The motion cycling induces and the muscles it uses are very similar to that of taking lots of little steps up a hill. When I have time I head out for a long ride through the Surrey hills, but my preferred option is a spin class where the intense atmosphere makes you work excruciatingly hard.
4. GIVE YOURSELF A DESTINATION
Long training runs through endless backstreets can grow tiresome very quickly. When rocks are swapped for curbs, and sheep for cars, it is easy to lose the motivation to head out for a longer training run. I find the best way to overcome this is to have an aim, and if possible a reward, for my run. My favourite way to do this is to arrange to meet a friend for food somewhere a few miles from my house; pop some money and an extra layer in your bag and use running as a mode of transport! And hope your friend will forgive your sweaty appearance…
5. ESCAPE OFTEN
No matter how motivated you are days will come when the hassle of navigating busy streets feels like it outweighs the benefits of running. It is because of days like this that it is important to escape the city frequently. I organise a trip outside of London at least once a fortnight, because returning to the hills keeps me excited about running. Those runs are the reasons why I train, and provide both valuable motivation and fond memories when I’m pounding the pavements come Monday.