London’s Best Free Running Clubs
Not so much a club as a never-ending series of weekly events around the world. From a pancake-flat course around Hackney Marshes to the hills of Hampstead Heath, London lays on quite a few of these timed, 5km runs every Saturday morning (9am sharp). The views from the Ally Pally course are unmatched, while Brockwell Park is noted for its post-run coffee options. And Bushy Park is where everything began way back in 2004.
Don’t be put off by the name. This lot are as likely to be pounding pavements in the early evening as the witching hour – and someone will undoubtedly have brought a massive soundsystem to make the whole thing into a bit of a party. Organised by Reebok, Midnight Runners now operates in 11 cities from Sydney to San Francisco, but it started in our own fair capital. To get started yourself, simply download the MyCrew mobile app.
London City Runners
Proclaiming itself to be the capital’s biggest club not affiliated to a retailer or trainer brand, London City Runners goes out three times a week from its Bermondsey clubhouse (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays) and once from Southwark Athletics Centre (Wednesdays). Distances tend to range from 5km up to an 18km route to Greenwich and back. The clubhouse’s café-bar is a popular post-run hangout.
The London branch of Adidas Runners has more than 13,000 members on its Facebook page. The group tends to organise four outings a week and you’ll need to be just a little bit organised yourself: rather than just showing up, you have to register for individual runs in advance. Worth it, especially if you get to road-test the new running shoes they often bring to events.
This one stands out because it takes place on a track. The Duke of York Square track in Chelsea, to be precise. At free Monday evening meetups, everyone can go at their own pace, so this is a good one for all levels. Its interval format is designed to help you build both speed and endurance.
Never Stop London
The North Face doesn’t just specialise in running. The outdoors brand also lays on free bouldering sessions. When it does turn its hand to running, expect steep climbs and/or mud. Trail runs come round monthly and might involve a train ride out of town for a 10-miler through fields and woods. Recent in-town events have included ‘summit sessions’ on Primrose Hill.
Runners Need Just Run
Eight of Runners Need’s 14 London outlets have a free running club. Sessions vary to make the most of each store’s local area. After three runs, you get a goody bag and t-shirt. For every ten that you complete, you’ll be given £10 to spend in store or online. Not only that, but the retailer offers full 12-week training programmes to build you up to 5k, 10k or half-marathon races.
Asics Run Club
Operating out of Asics’ Oxford Street flagship, this lot meet for an hour on Monday and Friday evenings. Routes incorporate the sights of central London and, going at a relatively relaxed pace, you might even have time to take them in. Like its old rival Adidas, Asics organises its group via Facebook; unlike Adidas, its events are not as oversubscribed and you don’t have to book in advance.
Need another reason to lift yourself off the sofa? Good Gym is here to help you hit your fitness goals while also giving something back to your community. Launching from bases all across London, group events can see participants running to their local park to plant trees, to a community garden to shift earth, or to a food bank to sort cans. Each session is designed to be completed in around 90 minutes, with distances typically varying between 3km and 15km.
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