The joys of urban running

The Islander caught up with Miki Boca, health club manager at London City Island, to ask her favourite local running routes and how to stay motivated

It’s no surprise that the relentless restrictions and lockdowns of the past year have caused even the most dedicated fitness fanatic to lose the motivation to train. During the summer, outdoor workouts in a garden or park kept many ticking over, but in colder, more inclement weather, even stepping outside for a walk can seem like too much effort.

However, there are only so many home workouts you can do before you need to get outside for fresh air and a change of scenery, especially if your eyes have been stuck to a screen all day for work. Therefore, the natural answer to a quick, effective, equipment-free workout that almost anyone can do, is running.

Miki Boca, health club manager at London City Island and Goodluck Hope, has worked in fitness for 20 years, but despite her years of experience, she admits to being something of a novice runner. Following the closure of gyms over the past year, she had no choice but to explore alternative forms of exercise and decided to commit to becoming a better runner. Building up slowly, she began running for a few minutes at a time and walking in between, before increasing the length and intensity of her runs.

“Running gives you mental freedom,

and physically it helps too”


‘It’s really important to motivate yourself to exercise,’ she explains. ‘Running gives you mental freedom, and physically it helps too. It doesn’t have to be too long – 15 or 20 minutes of running is enough for beginners. When you set your mind on a long run, you already feel that it’s going to be exhausting before you even start! My recommendation would be to run in the morning or around the middle of the day at lunchtime. You can take 30 minutes out for a run and quick shower during your lunch break if you plan it well. Then you’re set for the day.’

As well as freeing up her mind and getting the endorphins flowing, Boca also discovered that running is a great way to discover the local area and find hidden gems that she wouldn’t have come across otherwise. In the London City Island area, there are a variety of scenic and interesting routes suitable for all levels of runners.

‘If you cross London City Island Bridge, you can run around Bow Creek Ecology Park, which is absolutely beautiful and close to the water. It takes around an hour to walk there. For a beginner, it would be a brilliant place to start running,’ she recommends.



“If you cross London City Island Bridge, you can run around Bow Creek Ecology Park, which is absolutely beautiful and close to the water”



For intermediate runners looking to run up to around 10km, she suggests starting from London City Island and running along the river towards Blackwall, New Providence Wharf and Canary Wharf, around the Isle of Dogs and back to the Island.

‘Those who want a longer run can go to the Museum of London Docklands site, which is a great route,’ she says. ‘And, if you go the opposite way and go down the Isle of Dogs instead, you can run around Mudchute Park and Farm and back. These two routes would take slightly more than an hour to complete, but they are both alongside the river, which is amazing to run along, especially on a sunny day.’

Once gyms and sports facilities open up again, Boca stresses that running is a great activity to keep up and incorporate into a fitness routine to complement other workouts such as strength and stability classes and regular gym sessions. She recommends running twice a week, and she is going to start a running club for London City Island residents who thrive on having a more social (or competitive) incentive to run.

Until then, Boca’s top tip for staying motivated to get out for that morning or lunchtime run is to plan your day around it. ‘If it’s there on my phone or on paper then it’s much easier to follow through with it,’ she says.

And remember, nothing compares to the incredible feeling of satisfaction afterwards.


Photography: Buster Grey-Jung