Since I started trudging up hills and around parks four years ago, I have become healthier, slimmer and sunnier – and sometimes I even enjoy it

It is a damp, grey morning in south London and I am outdoors, still half asleep. The wind cuts like a knife and all I am wearing is shorts, tights and a polyester jersey. My muscles have clenched from the cold and no amount of stretching or rubbing will loosen them. But I tighten my laces and start to run. Uphill, as if things weren’t bad enough. My body jars with every step. Before I have gone 100 metres, I am thinking about packing it in. But no: if I give up today, maybe I won’t even get this far next time. So on I plod. Thud thud thud, trudge trudge trudge, up through Norwood Park, past the swings and skateboard ramps, through the boggy, doggy hollow, then left along the main road towards the Crystal Palace transmitter. I gain a little more height before peeling off down a side street to windswept park number two.

Beyond are more ups and downs, followed by the long, gentle decline of Beulah Hill

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