Running shouldn’t cost the earth and there is nowhere where that is more true than in London. For many years now I’ve been doing the rounds of the various collection of fantastic opportunities there are to get fit for free in our fair capital. Runs often include complicated sessions it would be hard to do by yourself, proper coaches, and even free food, coffee and sometimes free kit.
So how do you find out about these different runs? Read on for my handy guide to some of the best in London:
|Wild Trail Runners|
Love the outdoors? Wish you were running outside the Capital? Not scared of hills? Wild Trail runners is a great collective of runners passionate about training in the city for the countryside. Watch out though it usually involves hill reps and often the distance creeps up to about 9-10km. Super friendly crew though and they never leave a man behind.
|Tribe Run Club|
Does everyone keep telling you you need to include strength and conditioning in your workouts but you hate the gym? Healthy nutrition brand Tribe do weekly interval sessions focused around targeting different areas: one week legs, one week arms etc. You’ll also get some tasty snacks at the end and get to try out their scrummy bars. Look out for their special edition runs including teaming up with other brands for bonus goodies or long organised runs around the countryside at the weekends. Distance tends to be 6-7km total.
|Nike Running t-shirt (Covent Garden club: now defunct)|
I used to LOVE Nike clubs but a couple of years a go Nike tried to centralise all their clubs, like the Covent Garden one I was a member of, to their flagship store on Oxford Street. Places are available by signing up online in advance and they are quite difficult to get but the runs are always super well organised and end with great stretching sessions and cold drinks. Again the special edition events organised by Nike are the best – Nike Week London in particular is brilliant – and has in the chance enabled me to go to amazing workout classes and meet famous athletes like Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
|Sweaty Betty goodie bag|
Part running club, part fashion parade, the Sweaty Betty run clubs are slightly less hard core than some of the others partly because Sweaty Betty offers a range of free classes. You could go to Yoga on a Monday, Pilates on a Tuesday, Ballet Sculpt of a Wednesday – the list is pretty endless! Sign up online but make sure you do it a full week beforehand – places are popular. You’ll get a 20% VIP discount card including off sale items when you join their community and look out for the special edition events which often include snazzy drinks and even sometimes free products and gift vouchers. Not just based in London so if you’re regional look up where your nearest store is.
I know I know. 6:45am. But you’ll get an awesome free coffee from the hipster coffee haunt Workshop to ease you in to the morning before you start. The cool guys from Adidas have different packs you can join: subscribe to your tribe and prepare to compete. The Workshop coffee one is technically the North London run club so you’ll often end up in places like Regent’s Park. The guys have a kit drop in a trailer on their Land Rover so wherever you end up your stuff will be waiting for you which means avoiding the bore of a circular loop. Free t-shirts often feature and the run finishes with coffee, nutrition bars and water. Intervals help the distance creep up to 8-9km and be warned: you’ll be photographed… a lot.
There are tons of London parkruns and while being a tourist is fun the best thing about parkrun is the community. Hampstead Heath is my local with a great community but a deathly hill. Meet at 8:45am for a new runners briefing and make sure you register and print out your barcode beforehand. It’s 5km, timed and marshalled and you’ll get your time texted or emailed to you at the end. Work your way towards free t-shirts after 50, 100, 250 or even 500 runs. Don’t forget the volunteers are vital to the running of your local event as well as being a great way to make friends. You’ll even get a free volunteer t-shirt after 25 volunteering stints.
|Sweatshop Run Record card|
Need shiny incentives to get you running regularly? How about a free £100 pair of trainers if you run 50 weeks out of 52 in the year? Sweatshop run clubs happen not just at their Teddington store but across London and the UK and offer runs for everyone from new runners clubs to tougher intervals. On a Sunday Teddington gives you the chance to run 5km, 10km or go on a run specifically designed for newbies on a dedicated 8 week course. On your first week you’ll be given a card to get stamped each week and every week you’ll be able to get a new stamp. You can work your way towards a free t-shirt (5), nutrition pack (25), foam roller (30) or the holiday-preventing £100 trainers (50). Welcome to all abilities.
This is just a list of ones I have been to but there are plenty more to explore – some others you can look in to:
North Face - Covent Garden/Regent Street - Mon, Tue, Sun
Advent Runners - East London - Tue, Fri, Sat, Sun
New Balance - Oxford Street - Tue
Project Awesome - Central/Primrose Hill - Mon, Wed, Fri
Lululemon - Covent Garden - Wed
Good Gym - Various - Everyday
So go! Have fun, explore and don't let cost put you off running.