London on Lockdown: As Seen on the Run

This is a guest post courtesy of Helen T.

Scenes of a deserted London during the coronavirus lockdown
1st row: Parliament Square, Cutty Sark, Old Royal Naval College, Tower Bridge, Borough High Street, St Paul’s Cathedral
2nd row: Blackheath Avenue, Hays Galleria, South Bank, Bank, The Mall, Millennium Bridge
3rd Row: Ludgate Hill, London Bridge Station, More London Riverside, Victoria Embankment, St Paul’s from Millennium Bridge
4th Row: Greenland Dock, Butlers Wharf, Vauxhall Bridge, Blackfriars Station, Southbank, Westminster Bridge, Shad Thames

When Covid-19 broke out in the UK and social distancing rules started being put into place, I found myself waking up earlier and earlier in the mornings, feeling very anxious about the situation.  I decided that rather than lie in bed dwelling on things, or reading endless news articles on my phone and making myself even more anxious, the best thing to do was get up and go out for a run.  And as I now only have to commute to my living room to get to work rather than making the journey from South Bermondsey to the City, I have a lot more time for exercise in the mornings anyway!  

Empty walk near Tower Bridge during the coronavirus lockdown
View at Tower Bridge towards City Hall


I’ve been desperately missing the lively, buzzing Tuesday night gatherings at the arch and the runs along the river with scores of other London City Runners, and our Sunday morning runs to Greenwich, plus the Wednesday night track sessions and Thursday intervals sessions (I usually do one or the other!), and volunteering with the LCRs couch to 5K group on Monday nights, and I can’t wait to see everyone again.  But I’m starting to love my new running routine.  The streets are almost deserted early in the mornings, and London looks amazing.  I’ve always been interested in photography, and the opportunity to get shots of London when there’s nobody getting in the way, and the early morning light is fantastic, has been another great incentive to get me out running.   Plus I’ve been lucky enough to see some absolutely gorgeous sunrises!

Sunrise from Westminster Bridge during coronavirus lockdown in London
Sunrise from Tower Bridge


Being the only person at places like Parliament Square, Bank, Tower Bridge, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square or Bishopsgate on a week day during what would have been rush hour is a weird experience.  But it’s also fascinating to me because I know that after this pandemic is over it’s unlikely to ever happen again in my lifetime.  

Deserted Oxford Circus during the coronavirus lockdown in London
A nearly deserted Oxford Circus

I sometimes give myself little missions to do when I’m out running, for example the other day it was my Dad’s 75th birthday so I decided to find street signs starting with each letter of his name and make a photo collage of them.  He was so pleased that he printed it off, framed it and hung it on the wall!

Empty streets around Buckingham Palace during the coronavirus lockdown
Buckingham Palace in full bloom


Since I’ve started running every morning I’m finding I’m sleeping a lot more soundly, I’m more energetic and alert during the day and I don’t feel nearly as anxious.  I’m continuing to wake up very early but I’m still getting the six hours a night’s sleep I seem to need!  I do miss the camaraderie that comes with group running but more often than not I pass other London City Runners when I’m out on my morning runs and we give each other a wave!  And I still feel very much part of the club as I’ve been staying in contact with lots of other members via social media, WhatsApp, video calls etc., taking part in the LCR pub quizzes via Zoom, doing online yoga classes with other club members and hearing from people from our previous couch to 5K courses who are still keeping up with their running.  

Helen standing before a largely empty Parliament Square
Helen in an empty Parliament Square

It’s frustrating that all my races have been cancelled, there’s no parkrun (I would have been running my 100th on 25th April which is also my birthday) and we have no idea when any of these things will be able start up again, but in the meantime I’m so happy that I can still run!

Sunrise from Tower Bridge during the coronavirus lockdown in London
Sunrise from London Bridge
Trafalgar Square is completely deserted during the coronavirus lockdown in London
A completely empty Trafalgar Square
Empty streets in Chinatown during the coronavirus lockdown
Chinatown
Piccadilly Circus stands completely empty on an early morning during the coronavirus lockdown
Not a soul in sight at Piccadilly Circus
The sun rises over Royal Albert Hall, with no one else in sight
Just one other runner at Royal Albert Hall
A deserted Westminster Bridge, compared to the scenes from the film 28 Days Later

1 Comment

  1. Kirsty
    8th May 2020 / 6:20 pm

    Great photos!

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