A few ideas to get fit on Cardiff's streets

Running is probably among the cheapest ways to get and stay fit. Unless you have an injury that prevents you from doing high-impact sports, all you need is a good pair of shoes. Oh and motivation - which might be a bit more difficult to find, especially during those cold, rainy, dark days Cardiff can offer. However, I’ve learned that changing my route as often as possible makes going out of the house much easier. I don’t completely avoid parks (it would be a pity since Cardiff has quite a few beautiful green spots), but I often choose to go on streets. Besides grabbing my attention from how tired I am, it’s a great opportunity to learn the city and find new, interesting places.

So if you’re willing to give it a try and haven’t practiced urban running too much, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

  • be visible - especially if you run when it’s dark. There are many solutions to choose from, including head lamps, LED arm/leg bands, reflective clothing, etc.
  • stay safe - although it might reduce your pace, try to respect red lights and always be aware of traffic (especially when crossing streets).
  • reduce the volume - or wear only one earphone. Or drop both of them, the city’s soundscape can be entertaining enough. Otherwise, it’s easy to get carried away by the music and forget to pay attention to the environment.
  • have a look at the routes I suggest, but don’t be afraid to get lost - you might find some unexpected gems. You might also have to run more than initially planned, which although annoying at first, might bring a sense of fulfillment. 

Here are some ideas for inspiration based on different routes I have tested and enjoyed. Although Cardiff is quite flat and hills should generally not be a problem, you can also check the difference of level for each section. And of course, if you’re a long a long distance runner you can always combine these routes.

  • 4k in the city centre - a good opportunity to see major landmarks such as the National Museum, the City Hall, Principality Stadium, the Central Library, the Central Market, Cardiff Story Museum, Queen Street and the New Theatre
  • 5k around Cathays and Roath - going on the liveliest streets of these neighbourhoods might be really useful for finding the best place to enjoy a reward after your run or the next location to party.
  • 6k to discover Canton and Pontcanna - these two neighbourhoods might be slightly less familiar to you if you tend to stick to Cathays and the centre. The tour goes through the most popular streets, while also passing two small, beautiful parks. Don’t avoid Thompson’s Park even if you dislike hills, it’s worth (at least) walking through it. Although not included on the map, a small detour on Market Street could take you to Chapter- Canton’s artistic and cultural hotspot.
  • 7k around the Bay - a classic trail around Cardiff Bay, including parts of Wales Coast Path. In case you’d rather not run along cars, come back the same way along the barrage instead of following the circuit.
  • 8k with water views - this route goes from the centre to Cardiff Bay (there are various streets you can choose to get there, of course) and then follows the Taff to return through Bute Park. Worth doing it during a Sunday, so you can stop for a treat at the Riverside Market.

Enough reading, it’s time to put your running shoes on and go out now. There’s definitely something waiting for you to discover on Cardiff’s streets! Whether you choose any of these routes or you already have some favourite alternatives, I’d love to hear from you.

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Written by Lorena Axinte, 10 months ago
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