March 2015

A London Running View // #UrbanActive With Urban Outfitters

Over the past few months, I’ve learnt to appreciate London a lot more.But for me surprisingly, one of the ways this has happened is through running.

When I started one of my previous roles, I found it harder to find the time to go running along with going to the gym on a weekly basis. In the end, I found that running on the weekend as well as running home from work every Friday was the best way to make sure I was still able to go to the gym and clock up the miles. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I used to swear I would never run home from work. I found the concept so strange and bewildering- oh, how things have changed! Now, as Friday afternoons progress, I look forward to changing into my lycra and pounding the pavements. Who will get home first; me or the train I would have taken? Let the race begin!

One of the things I have found I love about running home from work, or on the weekends, is the differing environments. My weekday runs involve running through Oxford Circus (very difficult!) and the City whilst the weekends are around open green spaces or the Olympic Park. I notice so many more things, and weaving my way through the City, has helped me connect with my city. It is such a healing process after a long day at work, by the time I’m home, I feel like a different person to the one who woke up groggy-eyed in the morning.

Running from Oxford Circus, as you expect, is really quite hard. The hustle and bustle of late-night shoppers, tourists and people going home from work makes it an interesting challenge. I’ve learnt to master weaving my way through the maze of people and when there are just too many people, learning new routes to bypass that has led me to discover new parts of the area I had never seen before.

  All-Souls Church, near the BBC, has become a towering beam of support for me. In the evenings, when darkness has fallen, the needle-like steeple looks beautiful as it is lit up. The sharpness of the needle-point makes it look like it has an almost infinite ending, which reminds me how your limits are endless and you can achieve what you want if you put your mind to it.

  Now that I work in the City, my view of London has become different. I love watching the stream of people walking across London Bridge from my office window. I see the day go by in different forms of artwork; the dull, grey monotony of people slowly pouring out of the station and buses, walking to work in a robotic way, makes me see them through a blurred grey of photographic motion blur.   

By midday, as the day is brighter, I see the City as if it were painted in acrylic paint on canvas; I think it’s the way in which the sun’s reflection sits on the river Thames.   

And then by evening, the City softens and I wonder how lovely it would look in watercolour. The sun setting seems so soft and the blur of the differing hues that make up the sunset makes it feel like an artist’s dream.  Besides that, I step out of the offices dressed in red and black lycra and walk my way to the start of my home run. On my way, I encounter many of these dragons. For me, they are not only a symbol of the City’s history, but also my childhood. I grew up going to school in the City and would walk past a few of these City dragons everyday. The dragons mark the boundaries of the City of London. I used to fear them ( they do look a little scary, don’t you think?), but now I marvel them.     

It’s amazing what you discover when you’re running. On one occasion, when I altered my route, I discovered this sculpture of nude women by a fountain, in a small area close to Tower Bridge. It’s such a beautiful piece of work.  

  The view from London Bridge is one of my favourite points during my route. I love seeing the clusters of buildings marking the architectural contrast of the present and past; from the more contemporary buildings, like London City Hall, to Tower Bridge and Tower of London.   

  There are days when the Thames is so high, you can’t see Traitors’ Gate entrance at Tower of London, and that’s something I love to ponder on whilst I’m running.  

  I can’t tell you how much I love running in open green spaces, and especially the Olympic Park. I still haven’t got used to the huge size of the Park, which means no matter how many times I run there, my route is always different. I love that because it means I discover new places all the time. Unlike running home from work, running in the Olympic Park is much more liberating geographically and physically; I’m not constrained by pavements, cars or crowds of people. I feel so free.   

If I don’t want to do a long run, I usually pack a lightweight skipping rope into my jacket. It’s great because I can stop wherever I want to in the Park, and just take out the skipping rope and skip to my heart’s content. Alternatively, what I love about the Park, is that it’s been created for both adults and children, so I can use it to do all sorts of exercises, like pushups, run up stairs, wall climb, burpees or jumps on the huge, steep wooden-panelled stairs.   

Probably the one building I always encounter on my Olympic Park routes is the Copperbox. It’s my favourite part of the run. More often than not, I find myself daydreaming while I’m running, and when I go past the RUN sculpture by the Copperbox, it really puts a smile on my face. The Olympic Park is scattered with so many pieces of artwork, which all blend in so well.  

  I love the feeling of running past the Olympic rings. I feel so proud of what the Great Britain team achieved during the London Olympics and if I’m feeling down, it really lightens up my mood. It’s my symbol of hope and achievement.  

Urban Outfitters is running the #UrbanActive campaign. If you want to revamp that workout wardrobe, head over to Urban Outfitters.

Mara xxx