If you’re trying to keep the momentum going with your January exercise regime, the flat surfaces and convivial atmosphere of a canal towpath can give you just the boost you need.
With hundreds of miles of water to choose from, the West Midlands is perfectly placed to provide just what you need to kick-start your keep-fit journey. The region offers budding runners everything from bucolic rural routes to gritty urban terrain and all points in between.
‘It can be hard to get going at this time of year,’ says runner David Robinson. ‘But the rewards are huge if you give it a try. The sight of mist rising from the canal on frosty mornings is something to behold. And it’s always quite calming running alongside water; almost like you’re in step with the natural flow of things.’
Birmingham boasts more canals than Venice, and the regeneration of many of the city’s canals means it’s now even more appealing. Starting at the Mailbox, a converted former Royal Mail sorting office, you can head north west past the Indigo Hotel and along to the Gas Street Basin, home to a whole raft of narrowboats, pubs and cafés. Skirt round the National Indoor Arena and the Malt House pub, then back towards the Gas Street Basin, over the footbridge to the south side of the canal and back to your starting point.
If you’re up for more of a challenge, turn right before the last footbridge to the Mailbox, run south along the old Worcester and Birmingham canal and loop around the university basin before heading north again.
‘One tip: if you’re thinking of taking up running seriously, get yourself a good pair of trainers,’ says David. ‘It’s worth spending the extra money on something that suits your style of running. And it makes a world of difference.’
Plan your local waterway run here: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network