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New Year, New Us? Maybe. As usual, it seems like “getting fit” is once again on everyone’s list of New Year’s Resolutions. It might last a few days, a few weeks or miraculously the whole year and beyond.

Whilst we should bear in mind that these resolutions aren’t the be all and end all marker of having a successful year, there’s a lot to be said for sticking to the goals you’ve set for yourself. And we’re lucky enough to attend university somewhere scenic enough that running doesn’t have to be a total chore. British weather notwithstanding.
It often seems like everyone in Exeter is one step from being a professional athlete, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that, from the amount of stash being worn around campus, none of us have anything better to be doing than heading out for a quick jog between lectures.

Whether you’re a committed runner, or a sporadic one, or like me, signed up for the next Great West Run on a whim whilst bored in a lecture, apparently having taken leave of my common sense, there’s endless possibilities in and around Exeter for anyone who’s taking on the challenge of becoming a regular runner.

“Whilst we should bear in mind that these resolutions aren’t the be all and end all marker of having a successful year, there’s a lot to be said for sticking to the goals you’ve set for yourself”

Famed, and often cursed, for being so unavoidably hilly, studying in Exeter often makes you feel like you’ve gotten your daily workout in before you’ve even made it through the door of your morning seminar. But if you’re a fan of great views and running in nature, it’s worth taking on the hills! The footpaths in the woods of Duryard Valley Park, which can be accessed by following Pennsylvania Road up past the university or starting your run behind Duryard or Birks Grange accommodation blocks, offers amazing views over the valley – a hidden gem which not enough of us explore during our time in Exeter. Bonus points for doing this run around sunset – you’ll want to take a moment out of your run to appreciate the glow at the top of the hills!

If you’re looking for a less taxing, but still scenic route to run, I’d recommend heading down to the River Exe – perhaps start behind St. David’s station and follow the riverside path along to the Quay or even further. It’s a simple, flat route with the option of running on grass flats rather than pavement for most of the way, if you want to save your shins!
If the weather is dire, as we all know it’s prone to be in Exeter, you could always head to the gym and put in the miles on a treadmill, but where’s the fun in that? You’ll most likely thank yourself for braving the rain eventually, even if it seems a bit miserable to start with!

Exeter Quayside – photo by Lauren Geall

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re already a regular runner or a complete newbie – running should be something which you do because you enjoy it, not because you feel like you need to!

You don’t need to be the fastest, or the fittest or even be aiming for any particular goal. Put your running shoes on, get outside and be proud of yourself for even making the first step!

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