Personal Projects: Running the World
run·ning | noun
the motion of moving one's body in a way that both feet leave the ground in each step and that at no point do both feet have ground contact at the same time, usually resulting in a faster movement than walking
Besides the technical definition of running, there's the psychology of the sport. While time-consuming, running is my happy place, so to speak, where I'm all alone with my thoughts, the one or so hour where I can clear my head. I don't want to miss it. It's what helps me stay focused throughout the day and be ready for whatever comes my way.
When I decided to re-enter the world of running back in March 2019 (after a long hiatus from my first much more casual contact with the sport around 2007-2009), the road to running-comfort was rocky.
Along the way, I sorted out knee issues that had stopped my first relationship with running (too long a story for this time) and discovered the freedom of a new level of mobility.
But I did also lose something — time for photography (my other happy place).
per·spec·tive | noun
a mental view or prospect; the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed; the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance; the appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions
Being a photographer means one is always alert to the visual stimuli in the world. Running offers an interesting perspective on the world, one that, from time to time, reveals little details that would remain hidden with a more active photographic process. Photographing while running is very instinctual and freeing.
As a countermeasure to combat lost photography time, I slowly tripped into run photography, taking first my phone and then an action cam with me on every run.
The pictures are raw, far from optical or photographic perfection. While run photography has nothing in common with normal photography, it's still a way of practicing my eye for light, composition, moment.
To a degree, that is. You've got to appreciate the limitations. But once you do, there is a whole new world to discover; both photographically and in terms of looking at a location.
The pictures also more often than not allow me to mentally go back to runs I did months ago; preserving small moments I observe along the way, small encounters with my environment, small discoveries of a location I'm usually seeing very differently.
In my first year of running, I've collected a few locations across Europe that I've run at.
Prague is my current home base. The city feels like it's been made for running (despite being quite hilly).
The Vltava river offers many soothing waterfront kilometers to last years of diverse running routes. On my farthest run to date, I made it all the way from Holesovice in Prague to the village of Rez and back. A total of 33.29 km; exclusively on paths and trails along the river. The bridge across the Vltava in Rez that I used as a landmark to return back home is pictured on the back cover.
For the more urban adventures, there's the old town. Laden with tourists, running across Charles Bridge and through the narrow alleys packed with historic architecture to admire, is quite a unique experience.
Every time I'm home with my family, the Ruhr valley becomes my running turf. To my surprise, I did find plenty of calm routes away from the usual chaos of urbanity that is all the eye meets at first in this densely populated metropolitan area.
Canal paths and specific bike trails that connect one city with the next are ideal partners for shorter as well as longer runs. Especially on long-runs, one can re-discover the cultural heritage of a region once dominated by coal and steel.
It has to be said, though, that city streets can't be avoided around here. An experience one can get used to, though they're not quite as pretty as the streets of Prague.
Lately, however, the streets of the Ruhr valley have taken on a weird sensation. The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused a few very unusual pictures.
Lastly, my travels for Family Journeys have granted me access to a few very special running locations right by the North Sea.
I hope you enjoy this look at the world from a runner's perspective.