One of the most fun things to come out of finishing running every single street in Glasgow has been the messages I’ve received from people who have started exploring their local area too. Whether it’s going for a walk round a different part of town or running or cycling every street in their community, it’s been amazing hearing of the adventures that have started!
I’ve had a few questions along the way too so I thought I would make a wee blog explaining how I went about running every single street in case it’s helpful.
Starting out – what actually is your community?
This isn’t meant to be a deep question about the nature of society and community but rather at the start think about what you actually want to explore. Is it your immediate local area or further afield? Could you explore every street in your village or town, or a part of it?
When I started out I ran every street in the west end of Glasgow where I live. I realised I had been down a lot of those streets at one point or another, but the fun part was exploring those little streets and lanes that I’d always just walked past before. I started out in an old fashioned way with a bit of paper and a pen scoring them off as I went along – that is actually really satisfying to do!
If you feel like the paper map option is for you there are loads of places to order really good street maps in a big print format that lets you get the satisfaction of seeing them all being ticked off one at a time! You’ll need something at a closer level of detail than a 1:25,000 OS map so make sure the map you get does include every street before you start!
You’re now on an adventure!
I think the thing I found most fun was the exploration of my city, rather than the running. I’m really not a natural runner, although I enjoy it a lot. Don’t worry about the fitness aspect of it – it took me two years to finish Glasgow! Just get out regularly and explore further each time.
For me a really important aspect of it was taking time to explore my surroundings, nosy at stickers on lampposts or read signs on railings and try to work out why a building was empty or what used to be in a place where there was now new housing. Ticking off the streets may have been the goal, but the adventure was much more than that.
I found the most useful tool at this stage was the National Library of Scotland’s historical mapping website. On here you can select the area you just explored then look back at it through the years, all the way back to the 18th century Roy Lowlands map of Scotland. Stop and chat to people, be inquisitive, take your time – you might never be down this street ever again!
City Strides helps a lot!
Alongside your paper map an indispensable bit of kit is City Strides – a fantastic labour of love by some people who are exploring cities all over the planet.
City Strides links to all the main fitness apps – Strava, Map my Run, Garmin etc – and links up all your runs onto a personal map of whatever area you are covering. If your town/city has clearly defined boundaries then it will log how many streets you’ve run in that defined area, but for most of the UK unfortunately our towns/cities have quite ill-defined boundaries so you might not have that option.
However City Strides is still really useful for you to manually see the areas you’ve already covered and bits you’ve missed along the way. This is especially important as you get further on because it does become tricky to manage after a while!
For example – here’s Prestwick where I grew up. I’ve not run very much of the town and the boundaries are not defined by the local authority so it doesn’t feature on City Strides as a ‘city’, but you can still use the app to check your progress. The purple lines show where you’ve already run and that lets you plan where you still have to explore!
Share your progress
One of the most fun aspects of running every street in Glasgow was sharing my exploration with others – I enjoyed taking photographs as I went around and sharing these with short histories of the areas. This does two things. Firstly it acts as a diary of your progress without having to sit down and actually record it all somewhere else. Secondly it gives you a bit of motivation to keep going. Towards the end of my challenge I really did struggle to juggle work, dark nights, dreich weather and still having to trudge round the city. A bit of community collective support helps in these moments!
On social media there is a huge community of people doing this – hashtags #RunEveryStreet or #CityStrides will find you a lot of these people and it’s a nice community online too!
Go at your own pace, and enjoy it!
That’s really all these is to it! But my one big piece of advice is to find your own pace, your own regularity, your own way of doing it and enjoy every minute of it. Don’t go down streets if you aren’t comfortable to. Don’t feel like you’ve got to cover loads of kilometres every day – just wander round a new park if that’s what the day calls for. And enjoy it, otherwise, what’s the point?
Keep in touch please – I’d love to know where you are exploring!