I always feel runner’s envy when I see those panoramic shots in magazines of runners floating along pristine trails high in the Rockies or some other spectacular wilderness location. It’s hardly realistic to expect the same visual magnificence from my routine neighborhood runs – but looking at “runner porn” can make those runs feel a bit average. Which is the reason I recently decided to take along a camera phone on a route I have been running weekly for years: to perhaps capture something of what made me fall in love with running nearly 40 years ago, and rediscover the beauty of my own urban back yard.
I wasn’t crazy about taking the phone – it required a somewhat bulky plastic holder I had to strap on my arm, and I generally don’t like running with any extra gear at all outside of a watch (and not always even that). Even strapping a water bottle to my hand on longer runs in the summer is something I do reluctantly. But I velcroed the camera holder on my arm and took off from my front yard, just 4.5 miles round trip.
And I’m glad I did. Having the camera encouraged me to slow down a bit and experience the route with new eyes. As a happy result, I saw everything more deeply. Breaking stride long enough to record four or five images from a lovely early morning’s run seems, in retrospect, a small price to pay for awakening my vision again. I won’t take a camera for most runs, but it was certainly worth taking it for this one. You may not have albino peacocks who pose obligingly for you, but I would be willing to bet that somewhere within just 3-4 miles of your front step, there are wonders waiting.