Thanks to its amazing mix of beautiful old streets, expansive green spaces and a superb network of paths, Edinburgh is a great place to run. If you’re thinking of joining the plentiful ranks of joggers to be seen bobbing around town, here are five things you need to know.
There’s an organised race on every weekend
Edinburgh parkrun, a free-to-join timed five-kilometre run along the Cramond/Silverknowes Promenade takes place every Saturday from 9.30am. It’s a great communal running experience, with a photographer sometimes on-hand to capture you in full flight. At the end of every run, participants refresh and refuel at the Cramond Bistro, so it’s a great way to meet fellow runners, exchange tips and learn from others. While it’s free, registration is essential.
It helps to get fitted to stay fit
While 99 per cent of running gear is easily dispensable, if you’re serious about running, the right shoes are essential and could save you a lot of pain in the long run – literally. Thankfully, Edinburgh is blessed with some helpful specialists who will make sure the shoe fits. Sadly, Footworks on Bruntsfield Place, which would film customers running on a treadmill and analyse their gait in slo-mo to find the perfect shoe, is currently online only – but keep your eyes peeled for a new incarnation. Fortunately, Run4It on Lothian Road and Run and Become on Queensferry Street adopt similarly comprehensive approaches to trainer fitting and will have you legging it up and down the street as they watch your feet. For this reason, don’t turn up in your suit – unless you like being stared at by passers by.
The grass is greener
To avoid injuries, experts recommend ensuring you run on grass at least some of the time. The softer surface is less impactful on the knees than paved surfaces, while its less flat surface can help engage smaller muscles in your feet, ankles, legs and hips, helping them strengthen and improving your balance. Fortunately, Edinburgh is not short of some green and pleasant land to run on. Aside from the vast expanses of Holyrood Park and The Meadows, there’s Inverleith Park, Leith Links, the Braids and Blackford Hill, to name a few.
The seven hills hit the heights
Starting and ending on Calton Hill, the Seven Hills Challenge takes place every June and, as the name suggests, the route also takes in Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill East, Braid Hill, Blackford Hill and Arthur’s Seat. At 14 miles long, and with around 2,200 feet of ascent and descent, it’s a stiff test for any runner. But the route gives many runners something to work towards. It’s easily broken up into chunks which can be practised throughout the year, and all that uphill slogging is always rewarded with superb views over one of the most beautiful cityscapes in the world. It’s a healthy, rewarding way to see your city in all its glory. This year’s race event is already fully subscribed, so you have until 2017 to get in Seven Hills shape if you fancy some competition.
There’s a running club for you
Many runners prefer their own company, but running in groups can be a great way to push yourself, pick up training tips and make new friends. Edinburgh is home to an array of running clubs which treat the pastime with varying degrees of seriousness. Some examples include the Hunters Bog Trotters , who take their wonderful name from a particularly squelchy part of their favourite running route in between Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags, and always make sure they are well hydrated at a pub after their runs. Edinburgh Frontrunners , a club for LGBT community members and their straight friends and catering for runners of all abilities, holds two recreational runs every week. Dog lovers, meanwhile, might want to try Cani-Sports Edinburgh [canisportsedinburgh.co.uk]. Currently around 80 members strong, it holds runs for humans and their dogs from Dalkeith Country Park and Vogrie Country Park. What better way to get fit that going for a run with your best friend?