I have a strong love/hate relationship with running. Mentally it’s often difficult to get up and get moving but once I’m out there, and especially once I’ve finished I always remember why I love it so much. It’s that feeling of accomplishment once you’ve finished, like you’ve achieved something important. There’s also one thing I force myself to do in every new city I travel to – yup, you guessed it – run! There is no better way in my opinion to see a city than to get up early and jog around. Not to mention you’ll get great photos with less crowds of people.
Toronto is no exception to this rule. We have a lot of great running routes around the city. You can run for kilometres (or just a few) making your way from a park to the city center, to a beach quicker than you would think. Here are a few of my favourite routes:
1. Toronto’s Waterfront: At any time of day you’ll find lots of other athletic enthusiasts making their way along the pedestrian / bike paths along the waterfront. Make sure you stick to your side of the path though or you risk p**sing off others. I generally join the path somewhere along Spadina and travel West. From there I get to see the West Habour City, Toronto’s Rowing Club, the Boulevard Club, a few small beaches and an amazing view of the city if I travel far West enough. My recommendation is to start your run after dinner so you’re home just before dark but get to experience the sunset.
2. High Park: Depending where you’re staying in the city, High Park is another great area to go for a run. There are a few hills so you’ll get some leg workouts at the same time. I would recommend running here in the morning as it can get rather busy if it’s a nice day out. I could run for kilometers in this park and never get tired of it. However I recommend looking at a map before going because I have gotten lost here before (believe it or not).
3. The Beaches: Another favourite of mine. Similar to Toronto’s Waterfront but the East side version. I would recommend travelling along Queen street until you pass the DVP (that big highway right below you) then head South to the lakefront. There is a great boardwalk that can get busy in the summer on nice days but feels fantastic on your knees (for those of you that run in cities you know what I mean).
4. Don Valley: For those feeling a little more adventurous, there are many different paths through the Don Valley of Toronto. These paths are ideal if you’re visiting the West end of the city or North West. I would highly recommend running along here in the fall time as the colours are absolutely breathtaking. I do advise that you stay clear from these paths at night (especially solo female runners) or very early mornings as they can be home bases for those who have no where else to turn.
5. The Island: While this area isn’t exactly easy to get to (you have to take a 20 minute ferry to get over there), it’s well worth it. A short distance from the city, there is lots of space to run around. You’ll pass a theme park, gardens, beaches and well-paved paths. I would certainly recommend bringing a bit of cash with you so you can buy yourself a cold drink after and stay to enjoy some of the sites. Recently Nike had their 15K women’s run on the island and although I didn’t partake, I heard it was a great event.
As much as I love running in areas around the city, I would not recommend running around the urban core. While there are some cities where you can get away with this, especially if it’s first thing in the morning (like Paris), Toronto isn’t one of them. There are a lot of stop lights, and narrow sidewalks – so if you’re running anytime past 8am and before 10pm, you’ll be shouldering or at the very least bumping into people on the way!
No matter where you decide to run in Toronto though you won’t be disappointed. With so many things to see and more greenery than you would have thought you’ll have plenty to keep you visually occupied as you move through your kilometres. Tell us your favourite place to run in Toronto we’d love to hear from you!