Birmingham: Running along the canal paths

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I’ve set myself the challenge of running a 10k by the end of my first year at uni (seemingly impossible at the moment!). I have never been able to run this far before, but I want to take part in the Birmingham 10k next year. My accommodation is on a big hill so if I want to run around campus or near my student accommodation I find myself very out of breath very quickly. The canal paths in and around Birmingham have easy access from where I live but the main benefit is that they are consistently flat – hallelujah!

What’s more, the canal paths are a place of tranquility away from the busy streets and roads in the city centre so I can actually hear my running podcasts as I go (Bridge to 10k podcast series if you’re interested). The quiet setting and scenic tree-lined paths make for a very peaceful atmosphere.

The signposts telling you how far until the next street level access point are really useful for working out how far you have left to go but also, as Lottie pointed out, for celebrating how far you’ve already run! Extra bonus: it’s only one path with lots of signs so it is virtually impossible to get lost!

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So, I’m happily running along, getting a stitch but enjoying the view and suddenly there’s a gaggle of geese blocking my pathway. I wont lie- they are aggressive little things! I have to confess that I’ve almost cried when one was standing in front of the tunnel I needed to run through. On the plus side, once I do eventually creep past them I run even faster to get away. It’s always a gamble as to whether or not my run will be interrupted by them so if you’re planning a run, or even a stroll, along the canal paths watch out.

Aside from the geese, I would warn you against using the paths at night time or at rush hour. Most of the areas I run through are unlit so would be unsafe at night. I have found that at rush hour you walk five paces and a cyclist rings his bell so you have to keep stopping to move out of the way, it can get very busy so avoid this time if you can.

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Overall, I enjoy running along these paths because it is easy to plan a route and whilst you’re running you can appreciate the tranquility and look at the barges moored on the side. For me, it has been a good way to explore parts of Birmingham I would never think to go to otherwise like The Mailbox and Gas Street Basin. Hopefully it will all be worth it if I can actually reach my 10k goal – I will let you know!

Love Maisie xx

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