Running is such an important part of life for so many people. It offers an escape, a place to clear the mind and improve the mood.
More people continue to turn to it, especially during a time when mental health problems are at an all-time high. Recommended by many experts, running can really transform your mentality and release all manner of anxieties.
Many mental health services in London recommend taking up the form of exercise as part of treatment, and a good way to start, no matter what your pace or level of fitness is through Parkrun.
Parkrun has helped millions of people improve their mental health, and each Saturday, a huge community of people get out of bed early and lace up their trainers for the funniest 5k you can possibly do.
Across London, there are some great Parkrun routes to join, all completely free of charge. But what are the best?
Bushy Park in Teddington was where the first ever Parkrun took place and is a bit of a Mecca for Parkrun tourists. It’s a great place to start, not just because it’s the original but because it’s incredibly picturesque, too.
It offers wide paths with plenty of space, while you will also run past Long Water as well as being able to spot a deer or two along the way.
Richmond Park offers a similar experience. There are great views, the possibility of spotting deer, as well as some great views of the Isabella Plantation, a 40-acre garden set around the park’s woodland.
What’s even better is that many runners finish off the morning with a coffee at Pembroke Lodge, a great spot to make friends and become a member of the Parkrun community.
This Parkrun is a little trickier, with a few climbs to take on, but you are rewarded with the views from the top of the iconic Parliament Hill. Just try not to stop and take it all in, as it could severely affect your time!
You’ll take in woodland, meadows, and hills across the five kilometers, and it is a little more of a challenge than some of the flatter runs closer to the city.
Speaking of flat courses, Dulwich Park is exactly that and is as friendly for chasing PBs as it is for beginners.
The South London park has well-maintained pathways and nothing too challenging, while much of the run is concentrated on running around the lake. If you live in the area and wish to try Parkrun, this one’s the perfect starting point.
Crystal Palace Park
Athletic endeavor is well known to Crystal Palace, and the park is a brilliant and varied run for Parkrunners.
You’ll run by the Fabius sphinxes, the lake, and the terraces in the park, with plenty to keep your legs tested with the odd small slope.
It’s not too challenging, though and an ideal Saturday morning wake-up call,