Old Runner, New City

Isla Tweed

Moving to a new city can be daunting. Finding your way to university is difficult enough, throw in the challenge of trying to find the best places to run and it all seems a little too much to handle. Having just spent the previous summer at the peak of my fitness, I arrived at a crossroads when I approached a new city as an avid runner. What if I can’t find anywhere to run? What if the new faces judge me for going out for a run? Before I knew it, treadmills became a possibility hovering on my running horizons. Being used to Dorset’s beautiful heath and beach-side routes, treadmills have one label: Boring!


These were all the things that ran through my head prior to my move up north. My mum has been running all her life. This means that she is so far beyond any anxieties and embarrassments associated with running in the open, where it seems everyone you pass is watching, that her advice of ‘just do it’ does distinctly little to settle the nerves – other motivational slogans are available.


From the cold and muddy days of school cross-country races around the age of 8, 12 years later I’m still donning the trainers come rain or shine. It’s something I’ve enjoyed therefore for the majority of my life. Being tied into my Asics and striding out across the fields has, of course, had its periods of resentment. The over competitive nature of school athletics meets, and the general unpopularity of running and anything cardio-related with the main student body, leading to the awkward explanations as to why I was leaving class to ‘go for a run’.


For the most part nonetheless I love the sport, especially now that I can really appreciate the health and aesthetic benefits that come in the neatly packaged deal. It’s simple, the benefits are immense, and when you join a club and discover a band of ardent fellow enthusiasts who share your passion and commitment, it’s fun! Shocking, I know. But most of all, running is transferable. It’s something you can pick up wherever you are in the world, and nine times out of ten there will always be someone to jog along with you.


When I moved to Leeds, despite feeling like a ‘veteran’ runner I was soon overwhelmed with the busy city streets and hordes of students. I felt like a newbie runner again. Routes were alien, the back roads were alien, and the scale of the city was just too intimidating. I started going to gym classes and regularly using the treadmills in my building but it just wasn’t the same. The feeling of being outside in the fresh air coupled with a constant change of scenery is unbeatable, one of the main reasons why I love the sport.


But things do change and get better, that’s what I’m trying to stress here. Whether you’re a beginner or trying to start running in a new and daunting environment. The solution? Join a club or a group! Now that I have started running with my university club I have met some amazing ladies that are always on hand to come for a run, plus strength in numbers eradicates the fear of getting lost. I now love exploring the city, the canal at sunset being my latest discovery!


Don’t feel afraid of running. Don’t feel afraid of a new environment. Go out, find a running partner (or many) and have fun exploring and remembering why you love the sport.


You can scope out some of Leeds favourite run routes here:


Want to keep up to date with everything Run Leeds? Sign up now to stay in the loop!