Nestled amongst Toronto’s concrete jungle is a hidden world of trails and beautiful running routes.
With a combination of hills, waterfront, ravine, eclectic neighbourhoods, and parks, Toronto has something for every kind of runner. Whether you’re advanced or a beginner, running is not only a great form of exercise, it’s also an opportunity to explore the city.
With a mild climate, there’s no better time of year to run than in the summer.
In this article, you’ll find everything you need to run in Toronto, including our top route picks, recommendations for footwear, foot care best practices, and general tips for summer running.
Tip #1: Plan Your Route
Plan ahead for route, distance, and the conditions
First and foremost, it’s important to plan your route, both for your own safety and to ensure others know where you’re headed. Given the city’s summer conditions, don’t risk getting lost or being too far from home.
Plus, planning your route in advance allows you to follow a map, know exactly how far you’re running, and you can add pit stops along the way, such as water stations or restrooms. Knowing the length of your route can also allow you to run within your limits instead of guessing. For beginners, plan your route based on your targeted run time, rather than distance. We recommend setting a timer to go off halfway through your intended run time, so you can then turn around and get back safely to avoid exhaustion and injury.
Remember, before every run, it’s important to warm up with some simple foot activation exercises and dynamic stretches. Alternatively, a foot massager is a great way to activate the muscles in your feet and legs. It is also even more important to stretch after your run. Check out our Pinterest Stretching Board for our favourite stretches for preventing pain and injury.
Top Toronto summer running locations
Toronto’s most famous and well-known greenspace is High Park, a 399-acre mix of road, trail, and forest. The park caters to all running abilities with a number of loops and trails, as well as challenging hills (like Colborne Lodge, Spring Road, Centre Road, or Ellis Park Road just outside the northwest corner of High Park) for the more inclined runner.
Leslie Street Spit
The Leslie Street Spit is a hidden gem in Toronto. The roughly 5km road is built on a man-made headland, the result of decades of lake filling by the Toronto Port Authority. It offers great views of the city from what feels like the middle of the lake, is a known bird-watching spot, and is closed to automobile traffic. The northern section is called Tommy Thompson Park.
This 8.9km trail is an east-west crushed gravel trail on a former rail bed. It’s easily accessible, flat, and has plenty of signage. The section is referred to as the Belt Line but individual sections are called the York Beltline Trail west of Allen Road, the Kay Gardner Beltline Park from the Allen to Mount Pleasant Road, and the Ravine Beltline Trail south of Mount Pleasant Cemetery through the Moore Park Ravine.
Sunnybrook Farm was the 154-hectare country estate of Joseph Kilgour in the late 1800s. It is located north of Leaside and south of the Bridle Path.
Don River Trail
The Don River Trail runs parallel to the Don River and Don Valley Parkway. It’s flat, scenic, and an escape from the city while being centrally located. It’s also a great way to get to Sunnybrook Park, Riverdale, or even Cherry Beach at the southern waypoint.
Humber River Recreation Trail
This 8.2 out-and-back recreation trail is a perfect urban wilderness escape on some of Toronto’s best paved, family-friendly, multi-use trails. It offers beautiful scenery of the city, weaves through a number of neighbourhoods, and follows the water north-south on the west side of the city. Plus, it passes close to our clinic located at 2481 Bloor St. W.
Martin Goodman Trail
The Martin Goodman Trail is the name of the trail that runs adjacent to Lakeshore along Lake Ontario. This flat route offers a mix of beautiful views of the city and lake, restrooms, pit stops, and water fountains and extends east-west between Etobicoke and Scarborough. The flat ground and pit stops along the route makes it ideal for beginners. Note it’s a multi-use path so watch out for walkers and cyclists.
The Don Valley Brick Works is a former quarry-turned greenspace with plenty of trails in the vicinity as well as the surrounding area. There is also a good selection of shorter trails for beginner runners. Rosedale Valley, Crother’s Woods, Moore Park, and the Don Valley Trail are all nearby.
Top Toronto route-planning running apps
- RunGo: RunGo is a Canadian app for discovering the best routes in the world with turn-by-turn voice navigation.
- Strava: Strava is the most popular fitness app in the world, allowing users to upload their activities, and to interact with their followers. Strava’s route-building feature allows you to create and measure your own route, and draw inspiration from popular local routes. The app even suggests new routes to take.
- MapMyRun: MapMyRun is Under Armour’s route builder and fitness tracking app that allows users to build their optimal run, or to browse popular local crowd-sourced routes.
- Runtastic: Build a training plan, challenge yourself, and get stronger with every workout using Runtastic. This Adidas-owned app tracks your fitness goals, routes, and progress in real-time.
- Runkeeper: Asics’ fitness tracker is available for iOS and Android and does just about everything in terms of route planning, activity tracking, and metrics.
- AllTrails: AllTrails is the go-to resource for trail running with comprehensive reviews, ratings, and maps.
Tip #2: Stay Hydrated
Nutrition and hydration are key especially when battling hot temperatures and humidity
As temperatures rise, your sweat rate rises. Thus, your body loses fluid at a faster rate in order to stay cool.
Drink about 5–10 fl. oz. of water every 15–20 minutes while running. Plus, make sure you’re getting in enough fluids before and after exercise as well. This is key for summer running as dehydration is a real risk.
There are a number of options when it comes to hydrating during your run. You can:
- Plan a route featuring water fountains
- Carry a handheld water bottle
- Create a small loop close to home and have a water bottle outside to sip from mid-run
Choosing to run earlier in the day or in the evening when temperatures drop is optimal. Plus, getting out the door during off-peak hours means trails and paths are less busy than during prime time.
Tip #3: Proper Footwear And Foot Hygiene
Toronto summer running starts first and foremost with the right footwear and proper foot hygiene
Footwear, specifically running shoes, is the single most important piece of equipment for summer running.
Here at Feet First Clinic, we carry a number of leading brands including Asics and Saucony for all your footwear needs. Without the proper footwear, or fit, you expose yourself to blisters, calluses, discoloured toenails, fungal toenails, and a number of other foot conditions. Because running is such a high-impact activity, we recommend choosing running shoes with good shock absorption – like ASICS Gel padding. You also want to choose shoes that are suitable for your gait: If you tend to overpronate, then you’ll want a stability shoe to help control your ankle from rolling. This will help reduce joint strain and injury.
Another important consideration for Toronto summer running is proper foot hygiene. Given the temperatures, your feet are going to sweat. It’s critical to take proper preventative measures to prevent foot conditions like blisters and foot odour by wearing breathable footwear with anti-microbial lining, moisture-wicking socks, drying out your footwear after use, and using vaseline (or basic athletic tape) on hotspots on your foot to reduce the chance of blisters. We also recommend antimicrobial foot powder, like Gehwol Foot Powder. You can dust this foot powder on your socks or shoes before your run to help keep your feet dry.
The UV index plays a particularly significant factor in the summer. Protect your feet and legs (as well as elsewhere on your body) by wearing proper sunscreen. Nearly half of UV radiation omits between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. Late- morning to afternoon is crucial for proper sun care. Remember to apply your sunscreen at least 15 to 20 minutes before going outside.
Wrap-up: Toronto Summer Running Tips
- Plan ahead: Use an app to plan your route, let a friend or family member know where you’re going, and run within your limits.
- Stay hydrated: Bring water, walk when you need to, and stay hydrated before and after your run, especially if it’s hot and sunny.
- Use proper footwear and follow healthy foot hygiene: Wear shoes specifically designed for running, and wear the proper apparel to prevent nasty foot conditions from developing.
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