If you hate running outside, but also loathe the treadmill, an indoor track might offer a third option (depending on where you live).
I’m fortunate to have two different indoor track options within about a 10 minute drive of my house. One is at Variety Village where I treadmill run. It’s a rubberized 200m track in what they call the Fieldhouse. Unfortunately, the 200m size makes for a lot of corner vs. straightaway, so it’s not ideal for speed work and longer runs get pretty boring pretty fast. That said, for the odd 5km when all the treadmills are in use, it’s a decent setup.
The other is probably the best indoor track option available to Torontonians living in the east end—Monarch Park Stadium. Between November and April, the entire field and the track that encircles it gets a giant air-supported dome overhead with a comfortable climate for running.
Outside was frightful, inside was delightful
I had a 13km on the schedule today and the weather outside was terrible. It’s been snowing off and on since Monday here in Toronto and we have about 35-40cm piled up now. The sidewalk plows aren’t keeping pace and that means some tough footing anywhere outside.
As a result, the indoor track at Monarch was a great option today. I paid my $10 for a day pass and hit the blue Beynon track surface for a run. The track at Monarch has an unusual configuration because of the dome and the fields that are the main reason for the facility. Rather than having the usual rounded corners on each end, Monarch Park is more of a rectangle with rounded corners.
The turns are a bit tight, but because the corners are short, it means there’s a lot of straight running instead of turns. That’s a bit easier on the legs since it’s also a one-way track (counter-clockwise). One lap measures 370m if you stick to lane 3 and follow the red painted lines that round off the right-angled corners a bit.
35 laps, but time passed quickly
My 13km run today was 35 laps which is a bit boring, but with a couple of Ultimate Frisbee games and kids’ soccer practices to watch and a few other runners to follow, it wasn’t too bad. I also kept peeking out the windows every now and then to remind myself of the alternative.
I don’t mind the treadmill, even for runs as long as 15km. But having a fairly long indoor track around as an alternative is nice. If you live in Toronto, check out Monarch Park Stadium next time the weather is terrible, or even if you just want to do some indoor running on something other than a treadmill.
Monarch Park Stadium Facts
- 370m in lane three, following the red lines through the corners.
- Covered between November and April for climate-controlled sports.
- Clubhouse with bathrooms, change rooms and lockers.
- Full sized soccer/football field which is split into three smaller fields, and separated from the running track by full-height mesh screens.
The facility, including the track is open from 6:30am until midnight on weekdays, and 7:30am to “last rental” on weekends. Saturday closing sometimes varies, so check the their website for a link to the latest calendar or call if you plan to run late (after 8:00 P.M.).
An adult day pass for a single visit is $10, or you can get a 10-day pass good for 10 visits for $90. If you plan on making the track part of your weekly training routine over the winter and spring, the seasonal pass makes a lot of sense at just $42.50/month.
The Stadium is within walking distance of Coxwell Subway Station on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) or via the 22 Coxwell bus that runs up Coxwell from Queen St. There’s a decent amount of free parking in the lot at the stadium if you are driving, and also a fair bit of street parking in the immediate neighbourhood. View on Google Maps.
It’s always best to check the website before you head over to make sure there isn’t a special event happening that restricts the use of the track.
Be warned that the track is also closed every Monday and Wednesday between 4:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. for what they call Exclusive Hours which actually means the track is rented exclusively by some group and the public can’t run. It’s confusing the way that is noted on the website, and on the calendar of closures and events. It’s probably best to call before you head out just to be sure.
Indoor running options in your area
If you aren’t in the east end of Toronto and have a suggestion for a similar facility in your area, let me and other readers know in the comments! I know Ottawa has The Dome @ Louis-Riel and Edmonton has a 200m track at the University of Alberta’s Universiade Pavilion (aka the Butterdome). Residents of Vancouver can use a 200m track at the Richmond Oval.
Please do share yours!