Running with cameras

There are just some things that people should never hold while running: infants, swag bags, scissors and cameras. Yes, I did say cameras. Running through city streets while holding a camera will make you look, to the casual observer, like an energetic pervert.

I know this because one day when I was out running I caught a fleeting glimpse of a panting deviant clutching a camera. I recoiled in horror initially, before realising that I had, in fact, just seen myself reflected in a windowpane.

Answer me this honestly: how would you feel if you saw a sweaty man – his mouth a gaping dark O, rivulets of sweat slaloming down his forehead, his face the colour of a smacked arse – trundling towards you with a camera in his hand? You’d be thinking less Mr Motivator, more Mr Masturbator.

And yet I still run with my camera. Why? Well I’ve always believed that in order to reap life’s rewards you have to be willing to persevere, and in some cases look like a tit. You see, when I’m out running I never fail to see something that makes me wish I’d brought my camera. And when I do bring my camera and I get a good picture of a sign offering a reward for a missing ferret or of a profane bit of graffiti I realise that, despite the accusatory stares and increased chances of being pepper sprayed, it’s all worth it in the end.

This is a photo (and video) essay about one of my runs through Aberdeen. This run.

I’m not long out of the door when I get to this: the University of Aberdeen library. Not that you’d think it was a library, it looks more like a flat-pack zebra.

From there it’s a straight shot down to the beach. But not before I’ve crossed the golf course. I’m always absolutely terrified that I’m going to be hit by a stray (or well aimed) golf ball.

I always run through this tunnel. It’s such a nice feeling when you pop out at the other end to a blast of sea-air and the kind of wind that can give you a temporary facelift if you pout in the right direction.

Then it’s along the boulevard. If I’m lucky I’ll have this stretch to myself. If I’m unlucky I’ll end up racing my pride and whoever the middle aged woman is I’m trying to keep pace with.

The man who is fishing here is not a friend of mine. I lurked around him for a few minutes to take these photos. Then I scuttled off.

Stopping to crawl through the grass to take this one. Not a good look when you are in your shorts and sweat stained t-shirt.

From here I loop back round and home to a hot shower. But that’s something that nobody needs to see a picture of.

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Should I put a root vegetable down my shorts in future?

A diary of my first run after over ten years of blissful inactivity …

First run 6/4/11 Aberdeen
100 metres in – Hey, this feels great! I’m flying! I’m Linford Christie, I’m Roger Black, I’m Paula Radcliffe! Why did I ever give this up?
200 metres in – Is that a stitch coming on?
300 metres in – It’s definitely a stitch.
400 metres in – Is this what ‘hitting the wall’ feels like?
500 metres in – Is this what dying feels like? I think my lung just collapsed.
1 mile in – Have I reached the point where I lose bowel control yet?
2 miles in – Wondering how far you have to run before you do poop.
2.5 miles in – Does everyone who runs for a prolonged period of time soil themselves? There is just no way Gebreselassie ever crapped himself. Maybe I’m one of the fortunate few who can control their sphincters during intense exercise.
3.2 miles in – A woman I just passed on the street stared lingeringly and deliberately at my crotch. Note to self: wear longer shorts or conceal some kind of root vegetable inside current pair.
3.6 miles in and I’m home – feeling ethereal, if sweaty.

Route map of my first run