Thursday, 19 February 2015

My favourite North London running spots

I'm a North London girl. Always have been and probably always will be for the duration I call this city home. I must admit, I'm not a fan of living in the Capital and I would in a heartbeat pack up my apartment to move out into the suburbs.

That said though, when it comes to going for a run, I am fortunate to have some lovely hot spots surrounding me, meaning I am never without choice when it comes to a great run!

Alexandra Palace
Looks quite small when you first enter but Alexandra Palace has some well hidden mini trails and is a go-to destination for hill training. I like to head here as there is a great straight of around 400m which is ideal for speed work. This also sits alongside a really steep hill up to the palace, so you can combine hill reps with flat sprints.
In the summer, Alexandra Palace (or as some might call it 'Ally Pally') is thriving with sunbathers (including myself) so it's best to get your run in the bag early. The parkrun here is actually a really lovely, intimate sized race to try out too and whilst involving a couple of short steep hills, it can be a speedy one for some. Come winter, it however gets quite muddy but there are still plenty of paths to stick too!

Hampstead Heath
I've been running here ever sinced I moved to London. I love the Heath. It is my escape from the never-ending crowds, pollution and noise. A safe haven I guess you could say. Hampstead boasts acres of undulating land with beautiful woodland patches and the most serene secret gardens (I recommend you visit the Pergola & Hill Top Gardens in the summer months). There is also the famous Parliament Hill which offers the most stunning landscape views of London.
I used to live pretty close to the Heath and would find myself here every other day. Now I live a little further out, it is somewhere I go to for my longer, more challenging runs. You are guaranteed a hilly one when you head here that's for sure! The route I take is around seven miles and, like many other runners that descend here, I find my runs here the most relaxing. The tranquil setting and interesting little detours that you can make allow run routes to be mixed up and I always come back feeling like I have been out in the countryside. 

Another great aspect about Hampstead Heath is the variety of sports you can do. With tennis courts, an athletic track, lido and swimming ponds, there is plenty to do! Very soon I will be making this place my destination for open water swimming as I take to the waters donning my wet suit for triathlon training!

Finsbury Park 
My local for running. Finsbury Park is popular for runners as its just one large, simple loop. A great place to go for speed work and due to lots of tarmac roads, its a suitable destination to train all year round. Its parkrun is also very popular here. A two lap route that includes a cheeky, killer hill I have taken part many times, even though I fear that dreaded incline. 

There is also a lovely scenic path that connects Finsbury Park and Highgate. It was once a rail line many years ago but has since become deserted and over time has grown into a really pretty trail route. Lots of runners, cyclists and dog walkers wander down here so its nice and safe during daylight hours and is a really quick way to get to the park.
In the centre of Finsbury Park, hidden amongst the bushes and trees I have located a little flat loop (it's situated right by the athletic track) which measures around 350m. At the peak of summer, when daylight hours are longer, I like to go here in the evenings to bosh out some sprint reps, treating it almost like an athletic track and then I will work my way back via the trail path running to a specific pace for whatever I am training for at that time. 

So there you have it, my three go-to running destinations. Where are your running hotspots? Are there any I am missing out on in North London?

Lipstick Runner.

(I probably should have done this sort of post in the summer when the pictures would have been less mud and more sun. Still though, It's good to see what these places become over winter - who doesn't love a bit of mud after all?)

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