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Unveiling the Ultimate Runners’ Haven: Top 10 UK Cities for Your Fitness Journey

woman runs past westminster

Research from running coaching site We Run ranked the top 10 most runner-friendly cities in the UK according to a range of factors favourable to running.

These included how many official parkrun events there are per 10,000 people, the average size and distance to the nearest public park, air pollution levels, the number of running clubs per 10,000 people and the average number of days per month with rainfall. 

Southampton has taken the top spot for runners, thanks to its abundance of park space and increasing parkrun popularity. 

Brighton follows as a close second, largely as a result of its clean air and number of parkrun events.

Leicester and Birmingham have taken third and fourth place respectively, while Southend is in fifth place thanks in part to its low rainfall levels.

Top 10 best UK cities for runners according to new research

Ranking positionCityPopulationOverall Score
1Southampton384,300154
2Brighton340,900150
3Leicester527,100143
4Birmingham2,572,800142
5Southend356,500138
6Northampton426,500136
7Newcastle851,600136
8Nottingham660,700136
9Bristol761,800136
10Leeds809,000135

Commenting on the research, We Run founder John White said: “Running is always a popular choice for people looking to improve their health and fitness, and with more than 1,600 UK Athletics affiliated running clubs and more than 1,200 parkruns, there’s never been a better time to lace up in the UK.

“Running groups and parkruns are a great way for running newbies and long-time runners alike to come together to get fit while enjoying green spaces, with both proving to be hugely popular across the country.”

5 ways to stick to your running goals in 2024

UK Athletics Running certified coach Alexa Duckworth Briggs at We Run offers advice on how to stick to your running goals if you’ve recently taken it up as part of your New Year fitness regime.

  1. Get accountability. 

Share your goals with others and ask to be accountability buddies so you each check the other is doing what they have committed to.

Just messaging someone to say you are going for a run the next morning and then again when you’ve done it will really help you get out there. Even better if you could arrange to train together in person.

  1. Make running fun. 

You might not learn to love your new activity right away but you can fast-track that process by making it more fun to do.

Listening to your favourite playlist as you run, phoning your best friend for a chat whilst you are out for a walk or watching the next in your favourite TV series whilst on the treadmill or stationary bike! 

  1. Focus on the mood-enhancing benefits. 

Exercise gives you a real boost to mind and body but you can supercharge the benefits by joining it up with other things that make you feel better.

Being outside, even in dull weather, improves our motivation and wakes us up more. Connecting with others boosts mood in the short and longer term.

So group activities outdoors like parkrun give you a whole rush of benefits all in one go and make you more likely to do it again.

  1. Celebrate your progress in small chunks. 

Make your goals small, achievable steps that you can tick off regularly and really celebrate those achievements as you go.

So instead of a goal for the whole year, or even in 3 months’ time, write down all the small goals along the way, running a certain duration or distance in two weeks time for example.

You get that buzz of achievement regularly and really see your progress which helps to keep you motivated and keep going.

  1. Reward yourself. 

There are loads of apps out there that award levels and achievements to keep you engaged, and you can do the same with your fitness goals.

Write up a star chart on the fridge so you can tick off each session and get a little reward for everyone you tick off.

Or pop some change in a jar each time you train so you can treat yourself to a nice coffee or a treat every couple of weeks.

You can find the full top 25 best cities for runners league table here: https://we-run.co.uk/best-running-cities-2024/ 

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