On the weekends I like to head to the hills just like the rest of you. But during the week I am stuck in the city, counting the days until my next hike, the next summit. So what can I do to bide my time until the weekend? I run.
I run in London, through the bustling crowds of tourists, the cigarette smoke and the car fumes. Admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea but personally I love it!
I love picking my way through this urban jungle and getting lost among the hustle and bustle. I love exploring all the corners of my adopted city, running into dead-end alley ways and having to back track, discovering hidden gems; the back street pubs and coffee shops hiding beneath railway bridges. I love running for miles and finding myself back on my doorstep, not knowing exactly how I got there, or running until I’m exhausted then realizing that I am at least 5 miles from home and I have no idea how to get back. It is an adventure every time I step out for a run.
As well as the adventure, there is challenge in running in London, or indeed any city. I love dodging the urban obstacles, splashing through puddles, ducking under selfie sticks and weaving between groups of tourists taking photos in font of Big Ben. I love the feeling of racing past a granny on a motorized scooter and overtaking a double decker bus stuck in rush hour traffic. There is a rush in stepping off the curb to dodge a rogue child on the footpath, narrowly avoiding a cyclist speeding past. I love navigating my way through the crowds of commuters, side stepping around families looking at maps, leaping over potholes, hurdling over babies in prams and leap-frogging rubbish bins. OK I don’t really do those last two – I’m much too clumsy to do that without hurting myself but you get the picture.
Running in the city is face paced, just like life in the city. You always have to be on your toes and paying attention. I guess that is part of the reason that I enjoy it so much, the presence of mind it demands in comparison to a leisurely jog through the park. You are so busy concentrating on not knocking someone over or rolling your ankle in a pothole that you don’t even realize that you have just run 10 miles.
As well as the adventure and the challenge of running in the city, I love the comradely among runners here. Running along the Thames any time of day, rain, hail or shine you will always pass another runner. And every time you do you are likely to receive at least the hint of a smile and a slight nod as if to say ‘I know everyone thinks we’re nuts but let’s keep running anyway’. Every time I have this exchange with someone I am spurred on to run faster and further and I get this sudden overwhelming urge to high-five the next person I pass.
I know running is not everyone’s thing but if it is yours try a new route next time.
Get out and explore your city… Just watch out for that tourist taking a selfie.