Running about the place
In Running About The Place I am looking at the relationship between running, green spaces and wellbeing in Greater Manchester. I’m starting with an understanding that green spaces offer many benefits, everything from climate change mitigation and urban climate regulation to habitat provision. But in this project I’m really interested in the wellbeing benefits users gain through using green spaces as part of their exercise practice. This combination of exercise in green spaces is thought to bring extra benefits when compared to exercise indoors or in a more urban/built up environment. This project takes these ideas and tries to understand the human experience of this phenomenon. Asking what is it about running in green spaces that draws people in, keeps them coming back, and what might put some off or limit their ability to enjoy running in green spaces?
To do this I’ve had the pleasure of running with people as I conduct a series of running interviews around Greater Manchester during the winter and spring of 2019-20. My discussions with runners have highlighted the importance of nature and place connection; the joy and magic of catching sight of a deer, or watching the seasons change as well as learning about an old railway line or local history. But I’ve also found that for some access isn’t straightforward. Some of the women I have run with have explained how dark nights, unlit paths and safety in green spaces all change how, when and if they can access green spaces for running. I’ve also found how the wider built environment impacts on the experience of running, rarely is the park able to accommodate the whole route so the surrounding streets also play their part. You can read more about the project in a series of blog posts: https://environmentalistblog.wordpress.com/category/research/running-about-the-place-research/
Dr. Sam Hayes, Research Fellow, University of Salford