wash park- obviously, the plants aren't blooming like this yet... oh yeah, and you can't see the hoards of people running and walking and frisbeeing and tai chi-ing, but they're there, trust me
You know that phrase, "dance like nobody's watching"? I'd like to add a new nugget of truth to the wide world of phrases. It goes a little something like this: "Run like somebody's watching."
My reasoning is purely anecdotal and not very scientific, but I would argue that runners (myself included) pick up the pace when there are lots of people around. I mean, who wants to look like they're slacking as they jog themselves around Wash Park (or insert your park of choice here). As I ran through a rather full park today (the blizzard is over, the snow is melting at a rapid rate, the temperature was in the mid-60s and my fellow denver-ites just love the great outdoors!), I wondered a little about the 'run-faster-when-there-are-lots-of-people-around' phenomenon. Afterall, it's not like any of these people are paying the smallest ounce of attention to whether I'm running a 12-minute mile or a 10-minute mile. However, I think that sometimes trying to live up to what you'd like to be (in my case, a legit 10-minute mile runner [by the way, I know that's not actually fast... I'm working on it]) makes you closer to that goal.
I think that this idea extends beyond running, actually. If somebody was watching a minute-by-minute play by play of my life, I'm pretty sure my days would look different. There'd be more healthy homemade meals, less time surfing the internet, more quality time with burke, more actual, intentional conversation with my husband, more time spent reading God's word. Part of that is the people pleaser in me. But part of it is that I know what I should do and just don't do it. Sometimes I need someone else to kick me in the rear in order to start heading in the right direction.
All of this to say, if you want to knock a few minutes off your run, head out to a full park on a sunny day... the mere presence of crowds of people will take your workout up a notch. You could also try running along a busy street, though the uneven sidewalks, crazy drivers, safety hazards and potential of having to jog in place at the corner while you're waiting to cross a busy street (I don't know why that drives me nuts, but it does) might offset the benefits of your quicker pace. ;) Happy running!