A Short Guide to Running in Glasgow
Wind is my Enemy. I share my moderately small lab space with around seven other people - and home is (temporarily) the tiny attic-flat I share with my wife, our daughter and two cats. Living on top of each other like this has its downside – sometimes it can feel hard to breathe.
The point I'm trying to make is that I like wide-open spaces. Running - I'm talking about running. What age are you?
You’ll probably agree that carrying out research can be stressful - I've already talked a little about some services available to help you in this post. What I want to talk to you about today is my favourite method for coping with stress– running in Glasgow – and with the gluttony of Christmas out of the way, now is a great time to start a training plan.
Whether you’re already a keen runner, or just starting out, I've got some tips to help you cope with whatever the Glasgow weather will throw at you - including the wind.
Where to Go
The number one question I ask myself when I go to a new place is: where can I run? In Glasgow, you’re spoiled for choice! The city boasts both beautiful Victorian and modernist Mackintosh architecture; a good mix of flat and hilly streets; a great riverside and a multitude of scenic parks.
For short-to-medium distance running near the university, Kelvingrove Park is a great place to get going. It’s always bustling with people and runners are a common sight - but beware if you plan on running at night: there aren’t many lights! There are a couple of CCTV cameras, though, as well as 2 help points where anyone can call for assistance 24 hours a day. If you plan on venturing a little further than the park, then the tree-lined Kelvin Way is my favourite route out. From there, you can make your way toward the banks of the River Clyde where the running is free and flat all the way to Cambuslang!
I find it useful to use a service like Runkeeper or Google Maps to plan-out the route I’m going to take. It stops me straying into areas I’m unfamiliar with and, more importantly, it lets my family know roughly how long I expect to take.
Important advice is to stick to areas you know well but I’ve never had any issues running in the West End, South Side or City Centre – and I’m apt to go running any time between 5am and 11pm. Somebody did flag me down once to ask for a cigarette - at 6am, on New Year’s Day - because obviously, I’m a smoker.
What to Wear
Whether you go running early in the morning, late at night, or anytime in between you’ll want to make sure that you’re dressed appropriately – and not just to avoid a possible fashion faux-pas. Glasgow can be cold, wet and dark at the best of times - if you only take one piece of advice from this post, let it be neon pink or fluorescent yellow - because hi-vis clothing can save your life.
Personally, I dress for the temperature over anything else. It doesn’t matter to me if I get wet from the outside as within 5 minutes I’m usually soaking with sweat – for that reason, the only waterproofing I bother with is my Gore-Tex trainers (dry feet are important). This is very much a personal preference, though, and if you’re in any doubt about what to wear Runner’s World provides this handy guide to use as a starting point.
Remember, though: your running attire doesn’t have to be expensive – I buy almost everything I wear from budget sports shops and supermarkets. It doesn’t even have to be designed for running – don’t tell the other runners but I actually wear a cycling jacket when I’m out running.
As long as you’re comfortable, you can have a lot of fun running in any weather, which is important in Glasgow as you’re likely to experience multiple seasons in any one day. One of my favourite things in the world is running in heavy rain. The streets quieten down and it feels like you have the entire city to yourself: you get to see things from an entirely different perspective.
The only thing that drives me indoors is the wind, which can reach gale-force during the winter months and make running outside as slow as a week in the jail (to coin a common Glaswegian expression). On these occasions, I have been known to climb aboard the nearest treadmill.
The UofG have plenty of those available at the cardio suite in the Stevenson Building. Membership fees are reasonable too – with options at just £100 for the entire year you’ve got no excuse. The gym can also be a great way to meet people so, if you’re new to the city, get your training shoes on and run along (apologies for the pun but I couldn’t resist). All the information you could need is available from their website.
People to Know
Speaking of friends, if you like to run with others there are plenty of running groups throughout the Glasgow area. The UofG’s very own has been going strong since 1921! The Hares and Hounds are an all-abilities running club who run training sessions every Monday – Thursday. If you’re keen on joining in, then contact them via their website (previous link) or on Facebook.
If you think I’ve left something out, or if you want to know something specific about running in Glasgow then, as always, get in touch. You can connect with me through Twitter (@UofG_PGRblog and @StuartHWison) or in the comments below - let’s start a conversation or, at the very least, organise a run together!