Autumnal Edinburgh runs to spice up your Strava game

There’s more to this city than just the Meadows

Ah, Strava. Rivalled only by LinkedIn as the social media platform best designed for bragging, it’s the bread and butter of any validation-seeking, mildly performative runner.

Perhaps, like myself, you began sharing your runs when the temperature was warmer and now are struggling to stay motivated given the harsh reality of the wind and rain, or maybe you’re simply after a way to unwind after a long day sitting in the library.

Either way, look no further. Here are five running routes around Edinburgh to keep you motivated in the Autumn ahead.

Union Canal: 5km

I’m embarrassed to say that until my fourth year, I had never visited the canal and was, in fact, entirely oblivious to its existence.

Learn from my mistakes and get to know: This is undoubtedly one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems and on a nice day, if you squint a little bit, you could be in Amsterdam. Not quite, but almost.

This is also a fantastic route if you’re looking for something adaptable. If you’re coming from the Meadows, you can either loop around the back of Marchmont to make this 5km or continue further down the canal to extend it towards 10km.

Extended Meadows: Adaptable from 3km to 8km

The Meadows are ideal for an easy post-uni loop for the kind of days where the frost on your windows makes simply leaving the house seem like a Herculean effort.

One lap, including the Bruntsfield Links, is about 3km, but by adding a second or looping around Morningside and Sciennes, it can easily be extended to reach 5km or 7km.

I got the uphill stretch out of the way by running up the Links into Morningside, then behind Marchmont straight through The Grange, coming back up through Sciennes.

An added bonus – there are usually plenty of people around the Meadows in the evenings, and all the surrounding areas are residential – meaning they feel safe to run through alone as the days get shorter, but you’re less likely to contend with the crowds of the town centre.

Down to Portobello: 6km

My personal favourite from this list – running to Portobello feels like minimum pain for maximum gain.

It’s downhill almost the whole way and just longer than 5km, so statistically speaking, you’re overachieving.

Plus, you’re rewarded for your hard work with an excellent array of post-run fuel options. I’d recommend taking an unsuspecting friend along and treating yourselves at the end with pancakes from The Beach House Café.

Portobello and back: 13km

Personally, the thought of ruining a perfectly good thing by doubling back and running back uphill into town does not appeal, so nine times out of 10, I choose the run and pancakes option over extending this run.

However, suppose you’re a more committed, less hungry runner than myself or do not have a Young Scot Card and, therefore, are not tempted by the prospect of a free bus home. In that case, this route can be extended by looping back either the same route through Duddingston, or up Portobello Road towards Meadowbank and Abbeyhill.

New town loop: 7km

This route is a beautiful, condensed sightseeing tour of the city, covering the Meadows, Canongate, Queen Street and Stockbridge.

Something to bear in mind: this run is fun for the first half as it’s a comfortable mix of up and downhill, but what goes down must come back up, and I learnt this the hard way faced with the incline back up from Stockbridge to Princes Street and then Lothian Road.

However, don’t let that put you off. Like all of these routes, it offers a change of scene, which can’t be anything but a positive amid the monotony of midterm season.

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