Saturday, 11 February 2017

Keep On Running! Andy Introduces His NEW #London Walks Runs!

Andy is upping the pace on the London Walks repertoire. Here he is to explain…

Picture this – 8:15 am in the morning. You are already feeling eminently superior. Why? This morning you heaved your sleepy bones out of bed, pulled on your running pants/trousers, laced up your sneakers/trainers and got to a tube station with the birds – the sun hovered over Hyde Park with an air of punctual and benign vigilance and the light cast a powdery golden glow over the trees like rusty nails….get the picture? An hour later you are back at the hotel – sweaty but invigorated. You have just completed a 5 Km London Walks Run. But here comes the best bit.

Look at your family and friends – they are in awe of you. You are on holiday and you have done a 5 Km before breakfast. Wow! What have they done before 8:15? Nothing. Slept in. Pathetic. Know that. But be generous. You're feeling fantastic, relaxed. You might even listen to them. But you’re the star, like the model Arizona Muse who said "I like to run when visiting a new City." Go for it – feel like Arizona. Regale the family with historical anecdote learnt on the run and impress them with your newly acquired knowledge. Offer to show them around. Look to the breakfast bar - know that you could eat that full English breakfast – the works –if you want. And guilt free at that. Look to the other bar – know that you can drink tonight – why not, you’ve earnt it? Look back at your family and friends – gently sneer at them – with their muesli and fruit salad. Disgusting. That’s not going to work – not alone – you go to exercise. Like me. It’s all unsaid but they know that you know you are awesome. Enjoy. It may not last.

Ditto all the above – if you are on business and want to go on a run before a meeting; if you live in London and want to go on a run before work; if you are re a student new to London and want to explore and get fit or if you are a runner and you want to check out some new 5K routes and learn something about the city then this would be great for you. Whether you are discovering London for the first time or re-discovering London you too can feel smug and self-satisfied by 8.15 am.


There will be four London Walks Runs this summer. Each of them takes place on a Thursday and each of them meets at the designated Tube station at 7.15 am. The first Summer '17 London Walks Run will take place on May 4th – meeting place Holland Park Tube Stop. The second one will take place on June 8th – meeting place Hyde Park Corner Tube Stop (exit 1). The third one will take place on July 6th – meeting place Temple Tube Stop. The final Summer 17 London Walks Run will take place on August 3rd –  meeting place Barbican Tube Stop. You will need to download the Zello app to your smart phone from your app store to hear the commentary. (See below for more details). The cost of a London Walks Run is £10 for adults; or £8 for students, over 65’s and discount holders. Plus data usage on your smart phone (no more than £1:50 if pay as you go, free if you have unlimited data allowance).


Q. Why can't I just do the runs on my own:

A. Well, you can. Go for a morning run, that is. And you're welcome to. But it sure won't have the bells and whistles a London Walks Run has. Because you don't know London the way I do (and the way you will do by run's end). And there's the social side of it – the companionship, meeting your fellow runners, etc. And the route I've fashioned. And the commentary. And the sheer kick of doing something that is, as my pal and colleague Adam would put it, "bananas" – different and fun.

Q. What's the difference with this run?

A. The difference – bears repeating, this – is live historical commentary. It’s a first as far as we know. Ain't no other company doing this We use a sort of walkie talkie system so you can hear everything clearly through your earphones.  And crucially the guide is pretty fit so he won’t be huffing and puffing – he'll be able to talk comfortably into the mic while we get over the ground. Here’s a soundbite – you can judge for yourself.

Q. How will I hear the commentary?

A. You will need a smart phone and any standard ear phones/headphones. Download the free app Zello ( from your app store – it’s available on Apple, Android, Windows and Blackberry. Set up your account with a username. Takes two minutes. We have set up a designated running channel called ‘London runs’, our account is ‘LondonWalksA’. You can either search or find the channel before we start or I will show you how to find it when you arrive. I will then give you the password and bingo we are all hooked up together in our own private group channel.

Q. What's it cost?

A. The cost of a London Walks Run is the same as all London Walks – £10 per adult, £8 for full time students and over 65s and London Walks Discount Card holders. Under 15’s go free. Plus the cost of your data charges (see below).

Q. What will the data charges be?

A. Very little. Zello uses Wi-Fi between 32 and 121 megabytes per 45 minutes depending on which band you have it on. Gobbledygook? Translation: that’s the equivalent of downloading 3 mins of video or 6 songs or a 300 page document. If you have unlimited data on your phone then of course it will be completely free but if you are on Pay As You Go it will cost no more than £1.50.

Q. What time will the London Walks Run start and finish?

A. The London Walks Runs will all start at 7.15 am and aim to finish at 8.15 am.  There will be a gentle warm up and warm down before and after included in the hour. The run will be no more than 45 minutes, perhaps less, depending on how fast we go.

Q. How fit do I have to be?

A. I would recommend that you have run 5 km (3.1miles) before, but if you haven’t you will need to be fit and a fairly competent runner. If you are a beginner please don’t underestimate the distance. I will only ever run at the pace of the slowest runner, but remember it would be unfair on everybody else if that was a very slow pace. This is not a walk but it’s not a race either. We will probably aim to run at between 6/7 mins per Km so that’s 30/35 mins altogether. But we may go faster or slower.

I would say if you can run a 5 Km in 20 minutes then this is going to be a very gentle but enjoyable jog for you. If it takes you more than 45 minutes to run 5 Km then this really isn’t for you. And please remember you will be running at your own risk.

Q. What are the health benefits of a 5 Km run?

A. The combination of the activity's simplicity, its low cost, and medium exercise intensity means that it is often recommended by medical organisations and healthcare professionals. Like all physical activity, regular 5 Km runs can improve cardiovascular function and reduce body fat, as well as having mental health benefits.

Q. Are you a fitness instructor?

A. No, I am not a fitness instructor. I'm an actor and London Walks guide (of 20 years' experience) who loves to run. I have a repertory of over 25 walks including Hidden Pubs of Old London, Shakespeare and Dickens, Haunted London and Jack the Ripper. I have run the Edinburgh Marathon and many half marathons including The Royal Parks, Bournemouth, Windsor, Oxford, Reading, Greenwich and many others. Which is all by way of saying I won’t make you do twenty press ups when you arrive.


Q. What should I wear?

You should wear a good pair of trainers and comfortable running clothes. For your trainers it’s really important you get the right support so go to a running shop and take their advice. They will probably get you to run on a treadmill so they can analyse your gait. That way they see if there is an excess of pronation (inward) or supination (outward) rolling of your foot as it strikes and pushes off from the ground. They will then recommend a trainer accordingly.

If you haven’t got time for that put your feet in the bath and then stand on paper. When you take your foot off the paper you will be able to see by the shape of your footprint whether you have a high, low or neutral arch. When you go shopping there is a symbol based on the print for each.

Bring along a ruck sack which can hold a bottle of water, a track suit top or something warm for afterwards and a healthy snack like a banana for afterwards. Get a bag that’s light and fits quite tightly so it doesn’t bang around when you are running.

Q. Do I need to drink before?

Well, not two whisky sodas. But seriously, it's really important that you are well hydrated, so have a drink of water or a sports drink beforehand and leave some for afterwards. But don’t go mad. Also make sure you have something to eat beforehand. Some people don’t like to eat before a run in the morning, but most experts recommend you do. My recommendation would be to do what you do every time you go running.  For me that’s a bowl of cornflakes in the morning and a cup of tea.  Don’t eat anything you are not used to.

Andy will return in a later post with the routes and meeting places of the four tours.

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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