Running in Liverpool city centre: routes, clubs, tips & more
Hitting the gym treadmill is all well and good but every now and then it feels good to get outside into the fresh air for a proper run. And with more and more people living in the city centre we thought it was time to put together a guide to running in the heart of liverpool with top tips from local experts as well as some must-try routes.
Words by Lawrence Saunders
Fancy getting into running but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry. Although it can seem a bit of a daunting prospect to start with, a little guidance will have you ready to sign up for next year’s Liverpool Marathon in no time.
The NHS Couch to 5K plan is a great way to ease yourself into distance running with the aim of getting you off the sofa and running up to 5km in just nine short weeks.
Download the free app and follow the step-by-step instructions through the programme which features a choice of four celebrity trainers including comedian Sarah Millican and 13-time Olympic and World Championship gold medalist, Michael Johnson.
After some advanced running insight? Then head straight to Natterjack Running on North John Street for free gait analysis which helps to determine what type of running shoe you need; i.e. neutral, support or motion control shoe. This will help to optimise performance and comfort, hopefully reducing the risk of injury.
Once you’re feeling more comfortable on your feet you might soon feel its high time you tested yourself against some fellow runners.
If so, the parkrun which takes place at Princes Park every Saturday at 9am is a great place to start. Free to enter, the 5k is entirely organised by volunteers.
Although it’s conducted in a very cordial manner, the parkrun has been known to coax out the competitive spirit in even the most reserved racers.
Turn the final bend a couple of yards behind someone and before you know it you’ll find yourself shoulder-to-shoulder with your newfound rival up the home straight.
“Sport is a very important part of Liverpool culture so runners are generally very well respected.”
As we head into autumn and approach the end of British Summer Time, unless you’re up with the lark it’s more than likely that you’re going to be doing most of your running in the dark.
Making sure you’re visible to passing motorists, especially when navigating busy city centre traffic, is essential.
“There are so many gizmos and gadgets that help us to be seen,” says Richard Burney, manager at Natterjack Running.
“We can wear lights on our arms, our shoes and clipped on to our waist, as well as garments that have LED lights in them.
“Increasingly more popular with runners these days are head torches, whether to illuminate the more dimly lit roads and paths or to open up off-road trails which previously would have been out of bounds once dark.
“With all the advancements in clothing and accessories we’re well catered for these days so there’s no excuses to go out looking like the Milk Tray Man!”
“Liverpool is a safe city for runners,” adds John Elcock of Liverpool Running Tours, which offers several guided city centre runs.
“There are very few areas that would be considered off-piste for runners, although in common with all major cities it’s a good idea to run with a buddy and let friends/family know of your likely route and length of run, particularly in the evenings.
“Sport is obviously a very important part of Liverpool culture so runners are generally very well respected and tolerated.
“It’s common sense for all of us as runners to be courteous on pavements and to respect traffic signals.”
With so many historic buildings and landmarks to explore, Liverpool city centre represents a veritable runners’ playground but as with any bustling urban hub it also presents its own set of challenges.
Liverpool’s masses of tourists and shoppers have the potential to turn a relaxing jog into a frustrating ordeal – unless you follow our expert tips.
“With traffic and shoppers being a problem, if you’re running in the city centre I’d recommend heading to the waterfront,” says Alan Rothwell, race director of BTR Liverpool and veteran of 42 marathons.
“Don’t forget to look up and enjoy your surroundings like the iconic Three Graces at Pier Head. There’s lots of space and it’s very flat – watch out for the Fab Four too!”
Richard Burney agrees, calling the waterfront the “classic run escape for city dwellers or lunch time runners”.
“It’s an easy place to gravitate to and you can’t really get lost once you’re there,” he adds.
“From town it makes sense to head south with the river to your right and go as far as you like, bearing in mind that the further you go in one direction, you have to double it to get back!
“The promenade takes you all the way from Albert Dock in the city centre towards Garston Docks, giving you miles of uninterrupted, traffic-free running with the stunning backdrop of the River Mersey.”
However, if you’re keen to see as many of Liverpool’s famous landmarks on your run as possible, then Richard has just the route for you.
Approximately 7km long, this carefully curated course circles the city centre taking in the Three Graces, the Chinese Arch, both cathedrals, Lime Street Station and St George’s Hall.
Join the Gang
Joining a running club is not only a sure fire way to improve your technique and learn more about the sport, but it’s also a great chance to meet new people and turn running into a social activity.
There are two established running clubs based in L1. First up we’ve got Dockside Runners, which meets at the Nike Store in Liverpool ONE every Tuesday and Sunday.
Supported by the sportswear giant, Dockside is open to runners of all abilities aged 16 and above and it’s completely free.
The backing of Nike means members also get some pretty decent perks including shoe trialing, exclusive content and a free branded t-shirt when you complete your 10th run.
Your next option for a city centre sprint society is a little different and, perhaps quite fittingly for a slightly more offbeat running club, it’s located in the Baltic Triangle.
Mikkeller Running Club Liverpool is a chapter of the Mikkeller Running Club which was set up by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, the founder of Danish craft brewery Mikkeller.
Mikkel, a keen middle-distance runner in his teens, decided that if you’re going to do something bad to your body, i.e. drink beer, you should try your best to counteract the effects the next day by partaking in some exercise.
Unsurprisingly for a running club closely associated with a beer maker, runs start and end at the Black Lodge Brewery on Kitchen Street where finishers enjoy a well-earned post-run beverage.