PHOTO COURTESY OF MARTIN BAZYL/THE VARSITY BLUES

There are very few pasttimes more controversial than a run.

On one side are the avid dissenters, those who profess that nothing could be more unpleasant than a jog around the block. These are the folks who tend to opt for taking the elevator over the stairs and are big fans of those moving walkways in airports.

The opposing camp, however, raves endlessly about the magic of a run in the park with such uninhibited fervour that you would think scuffed sneakers and blistered feet were addictive.

As such, they often mention the wondrous ‘runner’s high,’ a phenomenon much spoken of but little explained. The runner will enthusiastically describe the euphoric feeling of blood in your cheeks, wind beneath your feet, or any other consequence of running that still fails to exemplify the promised addictive excitement to a staunch opposer.

It seems like the kind of thing you have to feel to believe. So, if you’re an inquiring anti-runner looking to convert, or are just looking to shake up your running routine, we have a few suggestions. The Varsity spoke to U of T alum and former Varsity Blues track star Madeleine Kelly for her advice on some runs that will get you jonesing for your next fix.

“A route is as difficult as you make it,” says Kelly. “So I don’t know which of these is the most difficult. I can tell you a little bit about the surfaces.”

If you’re looking for a scenic, hilly jog, she recommends Riverdale Park: “There’s a track there, and then there’s also a great hill, so you can get hill work in your bag or get some speed training.” The closest major intersection to her favourite running spot in the park is at Broadview and Danforth Avenues.

If you’re interested in testing your endurance, Kelly says that the best place to get in a long run is along the waterfront. “The Martin Goodman Trail goes for [roughly] 30 kilometres, along the bottom of Toronto,” she says, and the views of Lake Ontario don’t hurt either.

Finally, if you’re looking for a calm, “sheltered,” meditative run, she suggests the Beltline Trail, a nine-kilometre scenic route along an old railway line running from west of Allen Road down past Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the latter being a surprisingly peaceful running spot in its own right: “The cemetery is also great if you want a workout: rolling hills, limited traffic.”

Kelly also encourages runners to hop on the ever-dreaded treadmill. “I see it as a training tool if the weather’s brutal, then in my opinion it’s a much better option than potentially wiping out.”

However, it’s never her first choice, and she concedes that she would “always go outdoors if [she] had the option.” The takeaway for discouraged newbies? Try a scenic route instead of a machine, and maybe you’ll find yourself lacing up your running shoes more often than you think.

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