Documenting my Running Journey and iPhoneography: Taking Running Selfies

A significant part of my running journey is the documentation of my learning along the way. The documentation via images and text on Instagram, has helped me reflect on my runs, races, as well as other general topics related to running without injury, such as nutrition, form, recovery, etc… a million little things I had not heard of nor considered before I started running 18 months ago.

Books about running, that I have read over the past few months, all mention in some shape or form the importance of documentation as part of the overall training process. I am highlighting a few quotes below to dispel the myth that the documentation is done out of narcissistic reasons, of a need to tell the world “look at me!”, “look at all the stuff I am doing”. I am not in it to gain followers or get re-posts.
The capturing of my current running journey serves “the Silvia” down the road to see evidence of growth (or lack thereof), it serves the Silvia in the future to see visually how far she has come and it serves as motivation to keep growing and learning.

The first step to harnessing the power of thoughts, feelings, and emotions is to become more aware of them.

Runner’s World The Runner’s Brain: How to Think Smarter to Run Better
By Jeff Brown, Liz Neporent, and Meb Keflezighi

Create a running journal to record your performance. By having a visual log, you help to send messages to your RAS that you are a runner.

Runner’s World The Runner’s Brain: How to Think Smarter to Run Better
By Jeff Brown, Liz Neporent, and Meb Keflezighi

Recording the information makes you much more conscious of looking after your mind and body in a positive way.

Running Around the World: How I ran 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days
By Susannah Gill

To capture my running in photos and not to always bother others who are running alongside me to take a photo OF ME, it is a necessity to grow as a photographer/iPhoneographer and selfie-taker.

The first obstacle to overcome is being self-conscious about oneself on camera and about “staging” a run in order to take the photo… you WILL get stares from people around you when you set your phone down and keep running back and forth in front of the lens. While I sometimes take a photo in mid-run, it is not ideal and also interrupts my flow of running. I don’t feel bad in “staging” the photo, since most of the time, I am simply re-creating something that indeed happened on the run or I am trying to create a representation of something that I learned, am learning about, or make visual as a motivation.

The logistics of taking the photos are not that different than shooting other images:

  • use good light -which makes it hard to capture these early runs at 4 am
  • be aware of good backgrounds- try to not make your background too busy, try to incorporate the sky, walls, grass, ocean, etc.
  • use the rule of thirds- don’t put yourself in the middle of the picture, but to make the photo more interesting be in the left third or the right third of the image. Don’t worry too much about it as you are taking the image, since you can always crop the image later.
  • alternate by propping your phone horizontally and vertically on the ground. Also try to find places along your run to prop your phone at different heights for different angle shots.

Here are some “tricks” I use to capture photos of myself in motion

  • using the timer function of my iPhone- I set it to taking the shot after 10 seconds. This automatically makes the phone take a burst of 10 images. I use this when I set the phone down and walk away to then run in front of the camera. I choose the best image to keep from the burst.
  • using the burst function- when I am holding the phone, I don’t use the timer function, but hold the capture button. This takes bursts of images… determined by the length of me holding the button down (sometimes 50-60 images at a time). From the burst of images, I choose the best one or two to keep.
  • using the video mode- Sometimes, I will record a video of me running, then use the screenshot capabilities of the phone or an app such as Snapp Still to freeze a frame and save it as a photo.
  • use a running buddyI have asked a running buddy before to reciprocate taking a shot after taking and sharing photos of them running.

Some other ideas when taking running selfies:

  • run towards the camera from different angles
  • run away from the camera to capture a different angle of yourself
  • run parallel to the phone instead of towards or away- this takes some practice in order to time it just right to be in front of the camera when the timer goes of. I use the video mode most of the time with the parallel-to-the-camera angle
  • don’t only take full body shots, but focus sometimes on your shoes, pony tail, profile, knees, etc.
  • be aware of shadows and natural frames, such as trees or others structures you can find and incorporate into your shot.
  • think of yourself in comparison/connection to natural lines in your surroundings, diagonals, parallels, or shapes such as the road in front or behind you, walls, trees, houses or other structures, other runners, etc.

Post-shooting editing is your best friendI use the build-in iPhone editing function most often to create the best version of a shot.

  • add a filter- my favorite filter is “Vivid Warm”, then change it further by changing the settings for Black point and Vibrance settings
  • cropping– I use the cropping feature to take out anything unimportant on the sides to the composition in the shot. The cropping function also allows me to straighten or rotate the image within the frame. Cropping lets me create a more interesting image by letting the subject “bleed” off the image.

Ask yourself what are you trying to capture?

Make a mental list of what you want to document. What is evidence of your growth as a runner? What visual might you need in the future to be able to show growth. This requires you to also capture failures, images that show you NOT at your best (struggling, overheated, wrongly dressed for the weather. etc.). Do you want to capture weight loss? Do you want to capture strength? Speed? Techniques? Endurance? Training Successes/Failures?

What are some of your running selfie techniques, recommendations or suggestions?

Further resources: