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How to Take Running Action Shots for Instagram

This post is long overdue. And I’m sorry it’s taking me this long to construct it. So many of you have came up to me at races or asked on social media how I take my running pictures, and I’m sorry I’ve neglected this post that has been sitting in my draft folder for literally months. So this is for all of you on Instagram and Facebook who keep inquiring about all my dirty photography secrets. I don’t run with a little photographer. And no, I don’t run with a paparazzi. But I do have a couple tricks up my sleeve and I’m revealing them today.

Five years ago, when I first began filling my Instagram feed with snapshots from my life, I didn’t have a plan, theme or scheme in mind. I just took random pictures of my life and posted them: my kids, food, workouts, selfies, landscapes, etc. By no means did I feel like I had to create a certain look or theme to appeal to anyone other than myself. However, through the years, I realized I preferred a certain theme and look to my pictures. Bright, eye appealing shots were what I tried to achieve. And since running was my big passion and one of the accountability reasons why I was on Instagram to begin with, I decided to shift my focus to sharing mostly fitness and running snapshots – the same kind of things I looked forward to seeing from other instagrammers.

Overtime I’ve collected quite a following on instagram. I know some people struggle with that and decide to use sites like Nitreo to help them increase their following but luckily, I’ve done okay. As with most things, you get better with practice. And as my creative side started to improve, my running pictures transitioned from simple post run shoe selfies to mid-stride action shots. And I guess I got the hang of it, because I’ve had many requests asking how I manage to capture my images. So today I’m going to share with you just how I take my running photos for Instagram using my iPhone and a few other tools.

First and foremost, I always use my iPhone to capture my photos for my feed. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, the best camera for taking pictures is the one you carry with you. That being said, I always have my iPhone 6 plus, so that’s the camera that I use to take most of my pictures. In addition to my iphone, I will occasionally use a clip on detachable lens to add a little bit of an artistic perspective to my pictures. There are many available on Amazon, but this one here is the one I use the most. I like it best because it opens up the composition and captures a much wider range than my iphone is able to on it’s own.

Next, decide what you want to showcase in your shots. Whether you want to achieve a snapshot of you running through your front yard, or posing while mid stretch session, you’ll want to decide what scene and setup is desired for your “photo shoot.” Many times I wait until after my run is complete to take my pictures. I tend to focus on my training runs until I’m done, then I’ll setup a scenario in my head during my cool down.

Determine if you need a tripod, or something to prop up your phone to achieve your photo. I used to carry one of those bendable tripods, like this one, but have since realized I can utilize other things without having to carry an additional item with me. I’ve used everything from a mailbox, to the hood of a car to setup my phone. Sometimes people think you’re a little creepy, especially if it’s not your mailbox or car you’re using, but it’s all for the sake of Instagram, so it’s worth the dirty looks….maybe. And quite frankly, the majority of my running pictures are taken from the ground, so just a little something sturdy, like a rock or my water bottle, tends to do the trick quite nicely. But I will warn you, achieving a flattering image at that angle is much more difficult.

Now comes the difficult part. Once you determine how you want to capture your action shot, you’ll need to set your phone’s timer and run back and forth in the frame trying to score the perfect angle, pose, and frame. Let me be the first to admit. There is no easy way to achieve this. On average, I repeat this process anywhere from two to five times before I’m happy with a frame. It takes a lot of trial and error and can be very tedious. But once you figure out which angles and directions you prefer to capture, you can easily setup for pictures without much thought.

One of the biggest tips I can share with you for finding the best pictures is to utilize your video feature. What do I mean by that? Set your phone up on video mode. Then set up your camera and take a video of you running back and forth a few times with your camera. Do it from different depths in the frame with every pass by the camera. Then play it back and pause the frame where you like. Then take a screenshot of that frame. With motion, the stills of a video aren’t always great quality, but at least you can pinpoint how you like certain angles, depth and composition. Then you can recreate those settings and apply them to your front camera with the timer feature, as it takes better quality photos.

Lastly, you’ll want to edit your photos to add your own personal touch and style to your pics. I play around with a few different apps like PS Express, Pixlr and VSCO before posting to Instagram.

So there you have it. My personal secrets for taking action shots while running.

 

 

Do you have any tips or tricks that you use for taking great instagram shots?

 

 

 

Are those $98 Lululemon pants worth the price?

With so many options in the fitness apparel industry these day, is the high price tag of those running crops with the stylized “A” logo on the side really worth it?

I don’t know about you, but if (or when) I decide to purchase a high priced item of athletic gear I expect it to be well constructed.  It should offer comfort, breathability, style, strength and longevity.  At the very least, it should hold up to repeated wear during vigorous exercise.

As a distance runner, I own dozens of shorts, crops, pants and running skirts.  Four to five days a week I put these items through the ringer.  Miles upon miles, up and down the streets and trails, then back home and laid across my bath tub until laundry day. Just to pick it all back up the following week and endure the same rigorous treatment.  But one thing is for certain. The care and delicacy with which I treat these items is such that no other clothing item in my wardrobe receives.  My running clothes get the luxury treatment.  And I don’t mind treating them this way, because, to me, they are worth the price.

Which leads me to the question of the hour.

 

Are those $98 Lululemon pants really worth the price?

 

Let’s evaluate the product first and consider what you’re getting with that price tag.

 

  • Performance and Comfort – probably the most important factors in athletic gear.  If you are a serious runner, logging a minimum of 30 miles a week, you are going to need a well constructed pair of crops or shorts that fit right and perform without chaffing or movement.  One of the biggest selling points for lululemon’s running crops is their smooth, chafe-resistant Nakedseam™ technology.  They use bonded seams instead of stitching so you don’t get rubbed raw.  My Pace Rival crops have flat and bonded seams.  I can log 15 miles in the pouring rain and not worry about how my shower is going to feel when I’m done.  The wider bands on the Run Inspire Crops holds firmly against my not-so-tight tummy and supports me in all the right places.  I recently had a friend in my running group mention how Lululemon crops made her feel like she was wearing Spanx.  And I will agree that I prefer the supportive structure of Lulu’s pants and shorts to those of others for that exact reason.  They are definitely more forgiving.
  • Functionality  – With pockets for storing everything from keys, cash and/or nutrition on the go,  Lululemon definitely hits the mark with functionality. They have water-resistant zipper pockets on the back of their pants called Block-It Pockets that help keep your essentials secure and dry when you’re working up a sweat.  And with mesh fabric panels for extra ventilation, along with moisture-wicking fabrics, these pants are sure to keep you dry even during those hot summer training months.
  • Fit – There’s a little bit of a debate on this one.  Some people say that Lululemon’s sizes run small.  Some say their sizes are inconsistent.  Some say the sizes only cater to a certain body shape and size.  And while I can’t confirm or deny any of those, here’s what I do know.  Lululemon’s sizes range from 2-12.  For an official size chart, you can visit their website.  It’s labeled under every item.  And even though the size chart is not an exact science, it is a good starting point. Just keep in mind that fabric stretch can account for a little variance in size and feel.  As a woman on the larger size, I’m 5’9″  and155 lbs,, I can confirm that lululemon gear does allow some forgiveness as I mentioned above.  As an example, I was able to wear my Run Inspire crops until my 6th month of pregnancy, along with several of their Cool Racerbacks.  They offered the most amazing fit for an expanding belly and allowed plenty of ventilation for hot day trips to the theme parks with my daughter.
  • Fashion – Let’s face it.  Lululemon made their big mark on the athletic apparel industry with the introduction of their fashionable yoga wear.  People may have been wearing athletic attire out to lunch and to play dates before lululemon, but they were not strutting their stuff like the women wearing lulu do.  Lululemon grabbed the attention of many women with it’s stylish attire and they continue to provide plenty of attention grabbing styles that so many of us appreciate.
  • Customer Service and Product Warranty – I’m mentioning this purposely because I have personally experienced exceptional encounters with both, yet have seen and heard the opposite of what I encountered.  First and foremost, I absolutely love and rave about Lululemon’s quality product warranty.  Being that I use these garments in such a way that requires constant use and washing, I require these articles be durable to make their cost worthwhile.  On two separate occasions, I encountered a rip in the threads of two of my bottoms: one in my favorite black Run Inspire crops, and the other in a running skirt.  The first time I merely tweeted how devastated I was to have “ripped my favorite @lululemon running crops.’  Within hours, I was contacted by lululemon customer service and asked about the article.  In the end, the prompt response, coupled with their product satisfaction guarantee equaling a brand new pair of running crops for yours truly won me over one hundred percent.  On the second occasion, I reached out to the customer service number on their website to inquire whether my skirt was covered under that same warranty.  To my utmost joy, it was, so I again was allowed to return the item for a gift card in the amount of the item’s original price.  I might add.  Both of those items were worn excessively for two full marathons, several half marathons and countless training runs.  The mileage alone on those bottoms were in quadruple digits.  But they stood by their warranty and that speaks volumes to the quality and pricing of the garments.

I know many people may want to ask what my budget is for fitness apparel when I tell them I only run in Lululemon gear. But the truth is that I can’t afford NOT to run in their clothes.  Sure, ninety-eight bucks is a lot of money for a pair of pants that you sweat in, but break it down like this.  If you wore those crops every week for two years, those crops would equate to a dollar and six cents ($1.06) for every usage.  And with that price, you would get confidence in your fit, convenient pockets for stashing those personal items, performance and durability guarantees, and comfortable functionality.

I say all of this, not because I think you should necessarily buy Lululemon running crops, because there are other quality fitness apparel lines out there, but by me doing so, I ended up saving a lot of hassle and money in the long run.  And I just so happen to really like their running line.  Six years ago, spending almost a hundred dollars on workout pants wouldn’t have even crossed my mind.  But, once I became an endurance athlete,  it didn’t take me long to appreciate the value in paying for quality gear that is used so frequently and more likely to outlast the bargain buys.

Final Thoughts

 

When it comes to down to it, the athlete must decide for themselves what is most valued in their spending.  What are your specific expectations for running gear?  Do you need all the pockets and extra features?  Is having fashion forward fitness apparel important to you? Are you able to splurge on something like this or is this considered frivolous?  Would a couple “staple” items be sufficient to start with before adding to your collection?

In closing, I definitely think Lululemon running pants are worth it, if you have the budget to spend.  And even  if you don’t have the budget to go all out right away, try starting small, with one item, then gradually building up a nice collection of pieces over time.  This method can reduce the initial shock to your bank account.  And adding one or two pieces after a while or putting them on your wish list for birthdays and special occasions is never a bad idea. That makes for an extra special surprise too. And I gotta say, those cute little red gift cards make great gifts (hint, hint).

Tell me your thoughts on Lululemon and their price per garment in the comments below.  

Are you a fan of their line?   

Do you find their gear to be worth the price tag?

Colfax Denver Marathon Training Begins

Guess what? I’ve gone and done it again. Looks like I’ll be running yet another marathon before the end of this racing season. And it looks like I’ll be doing it in the mile high city. Could I be crazy? Or perhaps I’m just a little addicted to this thing called running?
Or maybe I just couldn’t say no when my best friend asked me to run the Denver Marathon with her. Yeah, that’d be correct. I’m very impressionable. I have no self control. That, and I jumped at the chance to run in the beautiful city of Denver. I will be running the Denver Colfax Marathon in May. if you are traveling from afar to compete in this marathon, I strongly suggest checking out denver vacation rentals well in advance!

Colfax Denver Training

So what does that mean for the training schedule? It means that I have to jump right back into double digit long runs and I’ve only got 10 weeks to prepare before flying out to take on the Colfax Marathon in Denver – which looks absolutely amazing by the way. Seriously. Go check out the course. It’s mostly flat – believe it or not – course runs through a fire department, in and around Mile High Stadium, along beautiful waterways with mountainous views and all around Denver’s museums, civic center and city park.

The marathon starts and finishes in Denver’s City Park.

City Park

 

I can’t wait to take on this course and see all that Denver has to offer. Just take a gander at these photos from the website.

 

Confluence Bridge

Confluence Bridge

 

Sloan's Lake

Sloan’s Lake

 

Mile High Stadium

Mile High Stadium

 

Cheery Creek Bike Path

 

Architectural Scenery

Architectural Scenery

 

confluence park downtown denver

 

Denver's skyline

Denver’s skyline

 

In addition to offering some of the most amazing sites along the course, this marathon is ranked as “one of the great marathons for first timers for 2016.”

As far as training goes, I’m going to adapt my same training plan that I used to train for NYC and just add an additional 20 miler to the plan to help prepare me for the altitude change. My husband assures me that I shouldn’t have an issue with the elevation change during the race, as long as I allow two days to acclimate before race day. I’m going to add an additional day to my weekly training plan. During my training for NY, I only ran three times a week. This cycle I wanted to add the fourth day to the plan to force my body to adjust to the extra stress. Since it will be my third marathon, I want to push myself a little more. I know I can finish, I just want to know how well I can do so. Also, It’s going to be my best friend’s first marathon, so I want to be able to support her and be able to pace her through the whole thing. I know there’s no way to know how things will transpire come race day, but I want to be as prepared as I possibly can when that day comes.

I typed up my training plan this weekend. It looks like this.

Denver Training Plan

 

I’m starting the week off with a race. I have Best Damn Race Orlando on Saturday, then I come right back on Monday and kick it back up into a full training schedule. Prayers for a healthy training cycle and no complications. I’m really excited for this one. Not the same excitement that I had for NYC, but a different view. It’s like the doubts have been lifted and I’m filled with determination and drive to push my limits. I haven’t been able to focus on speed work in a long time since I’ve been sick so much lately. As long as the training is there and I can keep healthy, I’m really excited for this race.

What advice would you share towards a shift to a third marathon?

Have you ever had to prepare for an event in a location where you didn’t know how your body would respond?

What advice do you have for someone taking on a race in a different altitude?

Have you ever been to Denver?

NYC Training Recap – Weeks 16 and 17

Here we are, a week out from Marathon day and I’ve some how forgotten to recap my last two weeks of training. So here goes a little something, just because I can’t leave you hanging.

WEEK 16

 

Monday – 5 miles @ 9:44 pace   I woke up early and headed out the door right before 5 to meet up with my run group.  We’ve been trying to get more momentum on our weekly group runs and I think we’ve finally got a rhythm.  Mon, Wed, and Saturday have been a pretty regular thing now and I couldn’t be more excited as the chapter leader.  The only bad thing I can say is that we are a bunch of jibber jabbers.  We can talk each other’s ears off any day, and we do.  And that leads to longer than I like walk breaks, which translates to not enough running.  Thankfully, today was not one of those days.  We ran pretty quick as a group and I was pleased with our pace.  And I got to break in a (literally) shiny new pair of running crops.  break-in-crops

Tuesday – Rest & Stretch

Wednesday – 5 miles with double stroller @ 10:17 pace

Thursday – Stretch & foam roll

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 12 miles @ 10.26 pace  You know it’s a good day when you finish your run and you don’t feel tired or sweaty.  The weather was perfect – we are so excited for fall weather in Florida, and that equals a faster pace and an overall accomplished feeling at the completion of this run.  It’s just the right ego boost I needed at this point in my training.

Sunday – Rest & Foam Roll

Total Miles – 22

Afer the previous week and the largest jump of mileage, I was ready for the taper to begin.  My legs surprisingly felt pretty good on Monday, but I knew that I still have plenty of resting to do.  By this point,  the preparation is done.  There’s nothing I can do now to prepare more for this race.  And the upcoming weeks are just about keeping fresh legs and staying injury free.

WEEK 17

Monday – 3 Miles @ comfy pace  I ran/walked with a new member of our run group.  I had already told myself that I couldn’t push it to go faster and harder since I was taking a dip in mileage this week.  So I decided to stay behind with one of our newest runners who was doing a run/walk for our 3 miler.

Tuesday – Rest & Stretch

Wednesday – 4 miles @ 9:24 pace  Today we discovered that each one of us was wearing pink in our running attire.  Since it was Wednesday, we had to document the occasion.

we-wear-pink

I swear, we didn’t plan it, but we may have to make it a regular thing.

pin_lulu

Thursday – Yoga

Friday – Rest & Stretch

Saturday – 8 miles @ 9:24 pace

Our group was short a few mamas this weekend, but we still had quite an enjoyable experience.  We even kept the chatting to a minimum and ended up finishing with a nice average.  The weather was gorgeous, again, and, we both wore pink again.

longrun

Sunday – Rest & Roll

Total Miles – 15

This week felt more than a little odd.  As with most tapers, I found myself feeling like I wasn’t doing enough.  I wanted to run farther and harder, but I know better, so I stuck with the plan.  I even went a little soft.  Not only did I allow myself to sleep in until 5:30 on Saturday morning (yes, I just said “sleep in until 5:30”), but I took a very leisurely approach to my stretching and foam rolling.  I didn’t force myself to put time aside towards stretching.  Instead, I just rolled and stretched whenever I was sitting on the floor with the kiddos, which equates to many hours in a week.  My daughter finds it very amusing to watch me foam roll on the play mat when she’s playing.  It’s my way of multitasking.  What can I say?

Going into this last week, I have to ease my mind along with my nerves.  The training is already there.  Now it’s just about the nutrition and hydration leading up to race day.  And that means I’ll be drinking Nuun like it’s going out of style.  Pink Lemonade is my flavor of the week.  I also saw on Nuun’s IG page how it can be served hot!  Sounds interesting.  I may try that this week for a change.  Nuun_onthego

Checklists and more checklists will be made and crossed off this week.  I still have a couple last minute items I need to buy before we fly out on Friday, and I have a couple lose ends to take care of with regards to our childcare needs.   We had a little wrench thrown in at the last minute.  My MIL had some unfortunate health concerns, so she can’t make the trip to stay with our son.  Instead, my mother is going to be keeping my son and daughter with a little help from my Aunt.  The biggest obstacle to overcome with watching two kiddos this weekend is working out how my daughter would get to trick or treat.  That’s probably the only downside to this marathon.  We will miss out on all the activities with our kids this year.  But I know they will be in great care with my mom and Aunt.

Now, I wonder how many times I’ll be checking the weather.  The forecast says it’s beautiful.  I mean, like perfect, racing conditions, but I am obsessive and I keep checking it to see if it changes between now and Thursday.  Fingers Crossed it doesn’t change.NYC_weather

 

What do you try to focus on during the taper?

What do you do the week of your marathon to stay calm and relaxed?

 

 

Five Things I’m Loving About the Taper

Hello Loves. Welcome to a glorious Friday. I’m in super good spirits today, because this weekend marks the final week countdown until the NYC Marathon!!! (Eeeek!)

And for all of those that are heading to DC for the Marine Corp Marathon, I wish you fast feet and beautiful weather.  Good luck especially to Courtney, Sue and Andrea.  I’ll be cheering you all on!!!
Because I’m in the middle of my taper, I thought it’d be a perfect subject to chat about today.  To be honest, I’m not hating the taper as much as I thought I would.  It’s true what they say, that it feels out of the ordinary.  I’m so used to running long and hard.  And now I’m just leisurely running three and four milers.   But I kind of like it, and here’s why.

LoveTheTaper

  • Lower Mileage  I’ve enjoyed the decrease in miles so much.  Tapering back into the single digit long run has really benefited my legs.  I’m feeling fresh and ready for race day.
  • Sleeping in Who doesn’t love an extra hour or two in the mornings?  Being able to sleep in until 5:30am instead of my usual 4:00am has me feeling all kinds of rested and rejuvenated.
  • Making Lists and Checking Twice  I’m such a planner and list maker.  This past week has allowed me to mentally prepare all my gear and necessities for next week’s race.  I always prepare like this, but especially when I travel long distance for a race. I get way more obsessive, if I am being honest.
  • Nutrition & Hydration  I can’t get enough water and Nuun these days.  It’s easy to let the idea of hydration slip your mind this far out, but it’s so important to keep with a daily hydration goal going into the final weeks.  And I’ve been selecting my food choices with race day in mind too.  Thankfully, that means lots of rice and pasta dishes, which I’m more than okay with.
  • Race Excitement  Social Media is all the buzz right now with NYC fast approaching.  I love seeing all the tweets and IG posts about meet ups and race day preparation strategy.

 

 

How are your feelings about the taper?

Do you have anything that you like to enjoy during those easier days?

Are you running a race soon?  

What tips do you have for me during my taper?

(This post is part of the Friday Five hosted by Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney. Go over and check out their awesome blogs!)