Do you run farther on your normal neighborhood route, on a treadmill indoors, or when you’re traveling and running in a new place?
Personally, I find myself running twice the distance I might run at home when I’m exploring somewhere unfamiliar. Perhaps it’s the motivation generated by curiosity—there’s always a new challenge and a new viewpoint around the next bend that I’ve never seen before.
When we’re outside and running, we see the world in a more real, personal way than we do driving by in a car. There’s a potential to really absorb our surroundings, whether that’s a beautiful garden, a vista across a lake, or a hawk sitting on a telephone wire. But too often when we run, we focus only on the physical task at hand, like keeping each mile under eight minutes or maintaining a certain heart rate.
Maybe the reason I run farther when I’m traveling is because I’m more likely to stop and smell the roses, quite literally. I run with my phone so that I can track my miles and my route. That means I have a camera with me, and when I’m in a new place, if something catches my interest, I stop and take a picture along the way. This also allows me a subconscious rest before I continue on, now bound to travel farther than I’d likely intended, breaking new personal records along the way.
Not yet convinced? Here are five ways your phone’s camera can inspire you on your next run:
1. Get a Different View
When we’re on a run, we’re seeing the world from a different perspective than in the rest of our daily lives. The pretty Victorian home on the corner flies by when you’re driving to work, but on a jog, you’ve got time to really appreciate its intricate architecture. The next time you run that way, take advantage of your unique view—on foot—and capture an image to remember it by.
Photography tip: Zoom with your feet! When you’re on a run, you’re already moving about, so take time to explore different angles until you get just the right perspective. And it’s a good chance to stop and stretch!
2. Create an Archive
Do your runs ever start to blur together? Even if you run a similar route most days, you probably see different things along the way, like a cat sitting on a fence or a cool classic car. The RunKeeper app lets you save photos within each individual run, so you can revisit your workouts and have a photograph to remember the highlight, ensuring that each run stands out as its own mini adventure.
Photography Tip: Tap your camera to focus the object in the picture that you want to highlight. Although smartphones have auto focus, you are still smarter! Let your camera know what your priority is.
3. Slow Down to Go Farther
Life is not a race, and neither is your afternoon jog. Unless you’re training for a 10K or marathon coming up, don’t avoid stopping to take a picture just because you’re trying to maintain a personal time. Your overall experience is better when you allow yourself a moment to explore or take a picture, and you’re likely to end up running farther than if you hustle from start to finish.
Photography Tip: Oftentimes we create blurry photos shaking the camera as we press the shutter button, especially when we’re huffing and puffing to catch our breath. Use the self-timer feature even when alone so that you can focus on holding the camera steady at the moment the picture is taken.
4. Share with Friends to Motivate Yourself
It’s fun to share our routes from RunKeeper on Facebook, and even more rewarding when we have a memorable photo from the route to show off. Challenge yourself to find one worthwhile shot to accompany each run, and you’ll start to notice little things and take new routes you may have never tried before.
Photography Tip: Maximize natural light in your images. Smartphones can struggle to take sharp pictures in low light situations and don’t always adapt well to stark differences between sun and shade, so seek out even light at an angle that’s as bright as possible.
5. Improve Your Skills and Improve Your Runs
For many of us, on an average day, our time running is our best chance to get outside. That’s a great excuse to capture a moment to remember this highlight of our day, and an even better excuse to master our smartphone photography skills. Make a point to learn a new feature or trick each week, like properly using a flash at different distances, or taking sharp photographs with the HDR feature to maximize color and light.
Photography Tip: Use a dry part of your shirt—or carry a small piece of cloth—to wipe off your lens before you take an image. Even a small amount of sweat or condensation can create blurry images!
Do you have a favorite photograph you’ve taken on a run? Does documenting your runs help motivate you to run farther?
Whether it’s running, hiking or another outdoor excursion, Stratton Lawrence uses his smartphone to document his adventures. He’s also an outdoors writer for eBay.com, his favorite destination for the latest phone or accessory.
**All photographs taken on an iPhone 5S by Stratton Lawrence during runs in 2015.