Sunday, 11 March 2018

Best Running Routes in Manchester?

I'm so excited to say that I'm working with the team behind the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run to bring you running content, inspiration and motivation in the lead up to the big event on Sunday 20th May.

The Great Run team are putting on a 10k and half marathon. I'm going to be running the half marathon distance - those of you who follow me on social might remember the Manchester half I ran in October, PBing at 1:49:46 (whoooo), so I'm excited to see if I can meet (or beat) this time, this time round!
Manchester Half Marathon Oct 2017 - PB!
As part of this collaboration, I'm going to be creating a few pieces of content on running over the next few months, and I'm really excited to share the first piece with you...

This post comprises of some of my favourite running routes in Manchester. These running courses are the pavements, parks, riverside routes, muddy walk ways (and more) that sparked my love of running, and the routes that keep me coming back for more each week. I really hope that if you're thinking of running the Great Manchester Run, or are looking for new running routes, that this post inspires you to get out and get running.

In no particular order, here are a few of my faves.

1) Chorlton Water Park

One of the reasons I love this place is because it's pretty much a 1 mile loop round the park, so it's great for speed training and for breaking the miles down clearly. Want to run three miles? Jog round three times. Etc. There's loads to see so it doesn't get boring.

It's also really pretty and very easy to get to, especially if you live in South Manc or near the city centre.

2) The River Mersey

Having lived in various areas in South Manchester for the past six years or so, the River Mersey has been one of my go-to running routes, especially on weekends. Obviously, it's huge, so the routes I tend to run along either start around Sale, Chorlton or Didsbury (Chorlton Water Park and Fletcher Moss Gardens (see number 6)) are also just off the River Mersey route).

Map of River Mersey
I love it because it feels like you're in the depths of the countryside. There are always lots of other runners, cyclists and dog walkers making it a very friendly place to get your miles in.

I tend to use these routes for my long runs, running six/seven miles on one side of the river before crossing back over one of the bridges and running back along the other side.

When it's sunny, this is hands down my favourite place to run in Manchester.

Sunny, podcast, running = happy place (greasy hair not optional at 6 miles in)

3) Manchester Ship Canal

If however, it's not sunny (this is Manchester after all), but I want to be able to get some long miles done, I'll head out on to the canal path.

I tend to run from Stretford, turning right along the canal past Sale, Timperley and Altrincham. It's a lovely route (flat and tarmac for most), passing canal boats, marinas and plenty of dog walkers and cyclists (and also some pretty nice looking waterside pubs, should you need a pit-stop or a place to end up!). This route takes you right out to Dunham Massey too.

If you go the other way it will take you to MediaCity, which is exactly what James and I did one summer afternoon. It was around 5 miles, and we had a pint of Ting in the sunshine outside Dockyard as our post-workout fuel (wild).

4) Salford Quays
Speaking of MediaCity, I also frequently run around the quays.

There's no strict route that I follow as such here, just in and out of the quay peninsulas, over the bridges and up and round MediaCity.

There's also a great local running group - Great Run Local Salford Quays - who meet at the Helly Hanson centre at 6.45pm each Thursday. If you're not familiar with the area, this group would be great to join.

Red bridges in Salford Quays
There's something quite soothing about running near water (all these routes have featured some sort of water landmark so far!), but I also love running in parks, too.

5) Local Running Groups

I mentioned the Great Run Local above, and I'm also a huge fan of Park Run. I love the atmosphere and spirit embedded into large group running, as much as I love plugging in my headphones and having an hour of running as 'me' time, too.

I find these timed runs a great way to focus on speed training, and find the communal 'race' environment really motivating and fun. Don't worry though, they're not in any way intimidating. There are (obviously) keen athletes at the front, but this ranges all the way to your light joggers, parents with prams, dogs, groups of friends and people who do a mix of running and walking the course.

If you live near the city centre, Lululemon Manchester do a group run on a Thursday at 6pm and SweatShop do one on at 6.45pm Tuesday (I've been to both - both are great). I also did a quick Google and found this article from TimeOut on other running clubs in Manc. It's from 2015 though so might be worth checking if any have changed.

6) Parks

Some of my favourite parks to run around in South Manchester are: Longford Park, Chorlton Park, Fog Lane Park, Fletcher Moss Gardens and Plattfields Park. All offer really nice routes and loops for you to clock up miles.

Longford Park in the beautiful golden autumn light

I used to do a fair bit of running with SweatShop around Peel Park in Salford, too. It's a lovely green space and great to practise speed drills.

Circuits with Lululemon 

Heaton Park is also lusssh to run around. It's in North Manchester and really easy to get to by car or tram. It's huge. I've run a 10k race there before, but there are plenty of shorter routes you could do, too.

Heaton Park Movember 10k race

7) Ladybower Reservoir

Ok, so not technically Manchester but if you live on the Eastern fringes of the city, Ladybower isn't too far in the car and makes for an absolutely stunning run. It's relatively flat compared to other routes in the Peak District, and is just beautiful. I think the circumference of the reservoir is around 13 miles(?) - could be wrong there - but you could easily pick one quarter of it and do a lovely four mile route along the water.

As well as running, it's a great place to get out on a bike, so if you're looking for a cross-training route, I'd highly recommend!

These are my current favourite routes. I really hope they inspire you to put your trainers on and get clocking those miles up...

If you know of any other routes you think I should check out, let me know!

Franks x

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