Top five running routes: Toronto edition

View of the Toronto skyline from Riverdale Park East

View of the Toronto skyline from Riverdale Park East

If you are new to Toronto (or new to running in Toronto) and would like to learn about places to run–this post is for you! Finding running routes in safe and scenic spots in a major city can sometimes be a challenge– luckily there are a number of green spaces and trails in Toronto, many of which are easily accessible by the TTC!  Here are five running routes to check out:

1) Belt-line /Chaplin Crescent Trail – I listed this one first because the belt-line trail is easily accessible, but also nestled in among the trees so you can feel like you are in the forest even when you are in the middle of a huge, bustling city.  I usually catch it at Yonge St. and run over to Allen Road and back (a little over 4.5 miles).  Here is a link to this route on

2) High Park – While I personally don’t make it out to High Park that often, it is definitely a favorite among Toronto runners.  The park is really scenic and great for running and biking.

me relaxing at Riverdale Farm after a run

me relaxing at Riverdale Farm after a run

3) Don River Trail – When I lived downtown, this was my favorite place to run.  I used to catch the trail just east of Riverdale Farm, which is adjacent to Riverdale Park West (near Cabbagetown).  There is also a track in Riverdale Park East, just east of the Don Valley Parkway, if you want to get some speedwork in!

A runner charging up Baldwin Steps

A runner charging up Baldwin Steps

4) Casa Loma stairs/Baldwin Steps – Not really a running route, but if you want to get your heart pumping, running the stairs is a great way to do it.  You can then run up Spadina Road and head into Roycroft Park.

5) Mt. Pleasant Cemetery – It might sound strange to run in a cemetery, but it is actually a really nice, peaceful place to run!  I ran once there with a friend during a light snowfall, and it was so quiet and tranquil.  There is not much car traffic, and you can also access the cemetery via the Belt-line trail (listed above).  Here is a link to a 3 mile loop through the cemetery.

Also, here is a partially overlapping list of running routes on blogTO.

Winter running– having a running buddy helps!


I really struggle with my running motivation during the cold, snowy Toronto winters.  Several of my co-workers run during lunch time, and I’m lucky to have found a running buddy who has kept me running even when the temperature dips below freezing.  On these chilly days, I usually spend the first mile thinking to myself, “why am I out here???” But after my body warms up I start to think happy thoughts and enjoy myself for the rest of the run.  The past few months I’ve been running ~3 miles 2x week.  As the weather continues to improve, I’ll start to sneak in some longer runs.  I can’t wait for Spring to hit Toronto!

Bringing back the blog!



I am resurrecting my running blog!  The last time I posted was 2007 and I had just finished my first and only (to-date) marathon.  A lot has happened since then.  I got married (June 2008), moved to Toronto, Canada (January 2009), had a baby (December 2010), and bought a house (June 2011).  And through it all I’ve run, but not as regularly as I used to run.  So, my plan is to start posting again to motivate myself and any other fellow runners who need some inspiration.  I am a pretty regular social-media user (facebook, pinterest) and enjoy reading about others’ achievements, successes, goals, adventures, and setbacks and now it’s my turn to add my continuing story to the mix.

Finished! Chip time: 3 hours and 52 minutes

I was so happy when I finished the marathon. I put my finisher’s shirt on right away and I couldn’t stop smiling. Even though my legs were really hurting during the race, they were felt much better as soon as I stopped running.

after the race

Eating bananas after the race.

marathon finishers

I was excited about my Tiffany’s finisher’s necklace.

post race entertainment

Hanging out after the race. This is right before they announced the race winners.

ocean dip

Icing our legs after the race.

Marathon pictures

My parents decided to come watch me run in Golden Gate Park. They picked a spot near mile 12, and then walked across the park to watch me again at mile 16. For the first 13 miles of the race, I felt amazing! I couldn’t believe how much the adrenaline helped me get up those first few hills.

Mile 12

Here is a picture from mile 16. It was already getting hot out, so I decided to take off my running belt and give it to my dad.


During the last 5 miles of the race I was really feeling tired. I don’t think I hit “the wall,” but I felt like I could barely lift my legs, almost like I was running through mud. As soon as I could see the finish clearly, though, I picked up my stride again and finished strong. Here are some pictures from the end of the race.

almost there!finish2.jpg

OMG, what are you going to wear?

Race day outfit

Whew, it is humid up in the city today! I just went for a slow 20 minute jog to loosen up my muscles and I definitely started sweating a lot earlier than I usually would. The humidity, combined with a warm, sunny weather forecast for tomorrow made me decide to wear shorts and a tank top for the big day tomorrow. I decided to go for pink on pink, because I like to be girly like that and also to make it easier for me to spot!

2 more days!

good luck wishes

I am getting so excited. One of my friends surprised me this morning with “good luck” balloons and a care package full of marathon essentials. She even included my favorite pre-race electrolyte drink, Pedialyte!

My goal time(s)

Icing in the bayLet’s see…I have run three half-marathons (La Jolla Half Marathon in 2002, Nike Women’s Marathon in 2005, and the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon in 2007), and I’ve finished each of them at around 1 hour and 50 minutes. I did my longest training run (22 miles) at around a 9:20 min/mile pace.

Since I really don’t know what to expect for my first full marathon, I have established three goals (see :

My conservative goal: 4 hours and 30 minutes

My realistic goal: 4 hours and 15 minutes

My optimistic goal: under 4 hours

I am pretty sure I can keep a 9:15 min/mile pace (giving me a 4:02:21 finish) for 26 miles. I am worried about going out too fast; so, to prevent this, one of my friends is going to keep me company during the first half of the race and make sure that I keep a 9 min/mile pace.