I don’t take many photos when I am out running. With the popularity of Instagram runners and Strava, there is a great incentive to snap a quick pic to prove the workout, but I usually don’t. This is mostly on purpose.
When I am running, I am usually trying to accomplish something. There is a tempo pace or distance I need to hit, or perhaps I am crunched for time and need to get home so I can shower and move on with my day. Running is work for me, and I take most of my runs too seriously. I don’t want to tamper with my workout by stopping to take a photo of a good sunset or pretty flower. I need to keep going, keep pushing, and remember the task at hand.
One of the things I love most about running, though, is that it is an excuse to be outside. Even in the rain, I enjoy running under treetops, next to the beach, on trails, wherever Mother Nature has welcomed me. Running is also a great way to experience a new place, while on vacation or traveling for work, and it’s certainly how I like to enjoy old places that I am returning to after being away.
What happens when I am pushing through workouts, looking at them as work, is that I don’t actually enjoy my surroundings. I am too focused on my watch and what I think I should be doing that I miss the deer quietly watching me from afar. Or, I have my music blaring so loud in order to give me enough motivation to get through the run that I don’t listen to the songs of the birds. I am not in the moment, rather trying to make time move faster to get through it and then brag about it on social media.
I realized recently that taking pictures while on my runs is actually one way to stop and take in my environment. Sure, I have to pause my watch and it will take a few extra minutes, but when I stop thinking about times and paces I can appreciate it is that I get to watch the sunrise above the city while everyone else is still in bed. I made that specific choice, and it doesn’t need to be all suffering.
There is a way to overdo the seen on my run photos. Stopping every run, especially during the ones that call for speed, seems unnecessary. And, I know that I don’t need to take a photo to enjoy the moment, but the act of taking the photo is a good reminder that I can slow down and remember why I run at all.
This morning, I was up at 5:30 to beat the heat for my run (spoiler alert: it was already hot and humid at that hour). Because it was the day after the Fourth of July, it was fairly quiet. The sun sparkled as it rose over Lake Michigan, and I thought about how lucky I was to see this everyday miracle. Instead of just running past it, I wanted to take it in. To really see it and thank it for being there. I snapped a few photos, took a few breaths, and was on my way. I also turned off the podcast I was listening to take in the stillness of the morning.
I want to take more photos on runs, not to become an Instagram runner (although you should follow me), but in order to get out of my own head and to really appreciate how great our world is. Running should come with goals and work, but it should also bring us closer to all the good things in life. And, we can’t get there if we aren’t living in the moment.