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According to recent studies, the urban air of Central London is so polluted that running in the city could be bad for your health. So if you were planning on taking a jog down Oxford Street think again. But before you hang up your trainers and bask in scientifically approved horizontal glory, take a look at our list of the top parks in London for running. Now you can combine your neglected hobbies of running and breathing unpolluted air. You might even pass some squirrels, gosh Londoners, remember nature?
A biggie and a classic, it’s London’s most famous park and can be accessed by a number of central stations, most obviously Hyde Park Corner. Its entire perimeter is a hefty 7kms, so most joggers will incorporate just a slice of it into their trail. Enter at Lancaster Gate for a comfortable 2km loop around the beautiful Serpentine Lake. You’ll pass Diana’s memorial fountain, so can pose for selfies mid route to ensure everyone knows that you’re not only working out, but also being cultural.Avoid during peak times, as it can get very busy on weekends during the summer. Hyde Park hosts large festivals and concerts, so make sure to run in the opposite direction if you’ve gotten wind of an event.
In the warmer months the park is filled with daffodils, roses and unfortunately people. But moths flock to the flame for a reason and this park is well worth enduring the masses for its beautiful lake, bridges and views of the city. Manoeuvre your way through the crowds by weaving intensely, and remember that elbows are there to be used. Avoid during the summer. This park is a tourist beacon, as it neighbours Buckingham Palace. If you don’t want to stop every second pace behind people papping everything from the trees to the benches, run a mile, just elsewhere.
A full lap is over 4.5km, but there are plenty of baby routes if you’re only out for a quick lunchtime jaunt. The Lakeside run supplies an intermediate course (under 3km) and, believe it or not, views of the lake. If you feel like challenging the legs and the stamina, journey up Primrose Hill which is located right next to the park itself. Avoid during the sunshine, and make hay elsewhere, or you will experience first hand the dramatic consequences of London’s overpopulation.
A hidden gem of East London, take the tube to Leytonstone for a jog off the beaten track, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a large sprawling parkland boasting lakes, streams, marshes, and adjoins Epping Forest. A loop of the park provides a 5km trail, great if you’re training for the mini marathon. Avoid during bad weather, or say goodbye to dry socks. The unmanicured, grassy trails are sure to be waterlogged after a downpour.
Located north on both the Northern Line and the Overground, the Heath is easily accessed from Central London, yet could not feel further away. It’s rolling terrain provides stunning views of the city and challenging hill climbs. Die-hard Londoners may experiences light-headedness due to the overdose of oxygen and the silence may be unnerving to those used to the constant inner city soundtrack. There are some excellent local pubs nearby for the perfect Sunday roast after your Hampstead Heath park run. Avoid on rollerblades. I’ve learnt the hard way that skates and steep hills are a recipe for a bruised coccyx and a damaged ego.
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