Wellness: The Wash Park Jog

June 2012

Recently, someone who was new to town asked me where she should go jogging. As I went to answer, I realized what a creature of habit I am: Nine out of 10 times, I find myself in Wash Park for my runs. Which I know is so cliché and unexciting. I don’t even live in Wash Park, but from my door to the park, once around, and back makes the perfect distance for me. Every once in a while I deviate—but I always seem to gravitate back to my familiar route. I wonder if I should mix it up, sometimes, when acquaintances will point out that they always see me pass by their house, or when I start to recognize the other jogging strangers and notice what times they like to hit the park after work.

But here’s the thing: Jogging is a personal, individual thing, and it’s something almost anyone can do without special equipment, apparel, or training. There’s truly something to the catchphrase “runner’s high”—even if you get that healthy, fit, energetic euphoria from running the same loop around the same park every day. So I told that newcomer my favorite place to jog—and why:

Four reasons I love jogging in Wash Park:

1. It’s always the same distance. At 2.6 miles around the outer dirt-path loop, you know what you’re getting every time. You don’t have to worry about GPS-ing your run to figure out your mileage. And it’s a big enough loop that it won't bore you like, say, running a track.

2. Available, non–Porta Potty restrooms. If you’re doing a long training run, bathrooms can be your best friend. They’re not the nicest of powder rooms, but the public park facilities are a giant step up from the alternative. Plus, the restrooms are right off the path, so you don’t have to deviate from your route or mileage too severely.

3. You’re never, ever there by yourself. From pre-dawn to after dark (and this is not to advocate for jogging anywhere outside when the sun goes down), someone’s always walking or running in Wash Park. Parents pushing jogging strollers, DU students getting some exercise, pairs of friends chatting, solo runners training for race day, and so on. There’s a kind of comforting solidarity about it, but it’s more of a safety thing. Running some other routes in the city can get borderline creepy the longer you go without seeing another person.

4. The people-watching is pretty darn entertaining. This is especially true on a sunny weekend afternoon, when hordes of summer revelers are camped out in the park’s grassy center with blankets, barbecues, volleyball nets, stereos, coolers filled with beer, lawn chairs, Frisbees, and a carefree spirit that makes Wash Park a fun, upbeat gathering spot.

Image via Shutterstock.