Fave Five: Toronto Running Routes

With spring finally here (was it ever really winter, though?), it’s time to jump off the treadmill and take our cardio out-of-doors. There are so many great spots to run – or walk, if that’s your thing – in Toronto, but we’ve highlighted our favourite five 5k routes in the city:

Lakeshore: Summertime Run 

Toronto has a beautiful lakeshore to run along (and let’s hope that’s never marred by a casino, Mayor Ford). Start at the base of Lower Spadina and run past the marina, lusting over the beautiful boats docked there. Continue west through Coronation Park until you join up with Lake Shore Blvd. W. Cross the foot bridge (bonus points if you sprint up the steps) and Exhibition Place. Loop east to Strachan, cross at the lights and follow your route back to the marina. Enjoy the sound of seagulls and refreshing lake breeze.

High Park: City Escape Trail 

High Park is ideal for running – not just because it brings us closer to nature, but because the hilly routes are challenging, so you can really gain endurance by sticking with this route for a few weeks or so. Starting at Bloor and Clendenan Ave. run east and enter the park at High Park Ave. Stick right along W. Rd. until it meets up with Colbourne Lodge Dr. Head north for a hot minute until you turn onto Centre Rd. Hang a Louie onto Spring Rd. and high-tail it back to your starting point. Or collapse on an inviting patch of grass for some sun salutations or a quick cat nap before heading back.

Cabbagetown: Wishful Thinking Route 

Ah, Cabbagetown. What was once a low-income neighbourhood back in the day is now full of beautiful, fully-restored heritage homes (read: out of your budget). See how the 1% live by following this lovely route. Beginning just north of College on Bleeker, run straight until you reach Howard St. Then turn right and head towards Parliament, where you’ll change direction southward.  Once you reach the cemetery entrance, head inside and do a loop of the perimeter. Exit the same way you went in and continue down Parliament, hanging a left onto Wellesley St. E. Run until you hit Sumach St. Wonder how little Cabbagetown homes  cost 25 years ago. Curse your bank account and lack of foresight. Head west along Winchester St. until you return to your starting point. Shuffle dejectedly back to your rented apartment. Thank the higher powers for that natural runner’s high that will eventually boost your spirits.

Toronto Island: Adventure Run 

Use the Centre Island ferry ride over to warm up and stretch so you’re ready to run as soon as the platform lowers. Take off down the Avenue of the Island (romantic) all the way until you hit Lakeshore and then head left towards Ward’s Island. Careful on the boardwalk (it can be a little uneven). This side of the island is usually not that busy, so feel free to sing along with your iPod. Keep wrapping around the point and cut back through the residential area of the island. Wish that you, too, lived on the island upon seeing the idyllic little homes. Connect back to Cibola Ave. and finish in front of the Rectory. Grab an iced tea and wait for the Ward Island Ferry to take you back to the Big Smoke.

Financial District: Ghost-town Sprint 

Save this run for a morning on Saturday or Sunday for full effect. Start off at Victoria Memorial Park and run east on Wellington, straight past all the empty office towers. Keep going until you hit Church then loop up and back via King St. Imagine you’re in The Walking Dead and there are zombies hiding in the eerily quiet buildings. Run faster. Keep sprinting until you start to see city life again. Whip down Portland, back to the park. You survived!

City Living: Spring sports in Toronto

It’s almost time to pack up those skis and skates, and dust off your tennis racquet, volleyball, and running shoes. For the competitive types out there, this is the time to sign up for leagues or join a club. There is no better way to meet new people and learn to master a sport. If competition is not your thing, there are plenty of courts, trails, and fields to hit up should you get the itch to be active.  

Team sports

A number of us have taken part in sports leagues around the city, and we can’t think of a more fun and productive way to spend our weekday nights. The Toronto Sport and Social Club and Not So Pro Toronto Sports are probably the most popular sports leagues in the city, offering everything from dodgeball to floor hockey to indoor and outdoor ultimate Frisbee. Whether you sign up with a group of friends or as an individual (prices vary depending on sport, venue, etc.), it’s guaranteed, cheap fun. Going for a couple beers with the team after never hurt anyone, either. 

Tennis

Depending on how picky you are when it comes to surface and court conditions, there is a huge range of options for playing tennis in Toronto. If you’re playing a casual game with a friend, there is no shortage of courts at public parks around the city. Sure, your court might be made of cement and the net made of metal, but there will always be space to be found. Trinity Bellwoods (Queen West), Ramsden (Rosedale) and Jimmy Simpson Park (Leslieville) are a few city parks where you can play tennis for free. 

If you’re looking for lessons, tournaments, a partner or simply some better quality courts, there are lots of tennis clubs around the city. Sir Winston Churchill Park Tennis Club (Spadina and St. Clair W.) and Kew Gardens Tennis Club (the Beaches) are both very affordable options. Mayfair Racquet and Fitness Club is popular as they have four locations around the city, and Greenwin Tennis Club (Mt. Pleasant and Davisville) is known for its great clinics.  

High five, sister.

Golf

So when we say golf, what we actually mean is the driving range. While we wish we could say we enjoy a good round of 18 holes, our skills and patience are not quite up to, um, par. Instead, we love a good afternoon working on our swing and going through as many baskets of balls as our wallets will allow. Our personal favourite is the two-level driving range at the Polson Pier, a.k.a. the Docks. While there’s nothing fancy about it, it’s easy to get to and has a lovely view of Lake Ontario. Other ranges in and around Toronto include the Beach Fairway Golf Range (Victoria Park Avenue just south of the Danforth) and Launch Golf Centre (Vaughan), which is conveniently open year round courtesy of the personal heaters in each stall. Memberships, lessons and private parties are also available, making this a pretty great golf destination if you’re willing to make the drive.

 Much harder than it looks.
Image source.

Running

One of the things we love most about the spring is being able to run outdoors again. Our personal go-to is The Beltline, which is a trail that spans 4.5 km from Mount Pleasant and Merton St. all the way up to the Allen. Ravines, the boardwalk in the beaches, and pretty much anywhere in the city with minimal pedestrian and vehicle traffic are great options as well. 

If you’re looking to get more serious, or for company while running, the Running Room offers great clinics. Most groups require a fee to participate, but we’ve found that there are a few sessions per week where you can tag along with running groups (usually groups training for a race) at no cost.

They look so happy.
Image source.
 

Whatever sport you choose, remember that exercise is key to a healthy heart, muscles, joints, and mind. Find something you love and it will be easier to stick with it.