Do race photo stops make you faster?

Today’s suggested Tuesdays on the Run subject is post race celebrations. Mine look a lot like this: foam roll, maybe yoga, maybe, then lay down and start trolling facebook/instagram. Often I’m not hungry for hours after a long, hard run. And it might take me hours to get into the shower, too, even though I sweat heavily and am pretty disgusting.

For instance, Sunday, after my 15k, I had a snack immediately post race. Then it was almost 3 hours later before I made some pancakes and even then, I wasn’t terribly hungry. If only my body would stand up to running 10 miles a few times a week . . . but I digress.

I run 13.1 and my husband, who is usually just hanging around waiting for me, is tired. In fairness to him, I’ve usually woken him up far earlier than he’s accustomed to and then he has to hang around with nothing to do for almost 3 hours. Being sedentary is hard work, y’all.

So I thought I’d write about a subject I’ve been thinking about for quite some time.

Race day photos
Race day photos

Photo envy
For the longest time I’ve had such envy over those lovely race photos it seems everyone but me takes during a race. How can you stop to take that many photos and still run so much faster than me?

I have professional photos from some of my races; photos my husband has taken (mostly start and finish lines), but none taken by me during my races. Until this past weekend.

Maybe it was the fact that this wasn’t a goal race. Maybe it was the fact that it was a gorgeous day. Maybe it was the fact that I was guaranteed a PR, given that 15k was a new distance for me.

I didn’t plan to stop and take photos; it just happened.

Did stopping for photos slow me down?
I don’t know, obviously, since I’ve never run 15k  or this particular race before. But I can tell you that I believe these were the fast 9 miles I have ever run. I certainly haven’t run any of my half marathons at an average pace below 12 minutes — not even close.

My long runs are definitely slower than race pace, so they’re not below a 12 minute pace, either.

Of course there’s also the little fact that a half is 4 miles longer and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have maintained that pace for another 4 miles. Looking at my last half, though, I was definitely slower for those first 9 miles — of course, since I had another 4 miles to go. There wasn’t a single mile with a pace below 12 mm in those first 9 miles; in fact, there was only 2 miles below 12 mm in the entire race.

My 15k, on the other hand, only had 2 miles that were above 12 mm.

The question remains: would my pace have been even faster if I hadn’t stopped for those photos? Again, we’ll never know. Not even if I run the same race next year. Because the truth is the same race is never the same: conditions are always different. Your fatigue level, your training level, your fueling, the weather, how you feel that particular day — the only thing that stays the same is that nothing ever stays the same.

Did taking photos make the race more enjoyable?
I may be slow, but it’s not for lack of trying. I am constantly surprised to be surrounded by people walking when I’m running. And huffing and puffing.

Darlene kindly froze her tuchus off to hang around and watch me finish (over 20 minutes! I’m not sure I’d be as nice if the tables were turned). She took my photo crossing the finish line. She called my name — apparently multiple times. I had no idea, because at the end of the race I am in the zone and I have tunnel vision on one thing and one thing only — getting across that finish line as quickly as possible so I can stop running!

I’m going to say that yes, taking those photos did make the race more enjoyable. They’re a really nice memento. Maybe those little mini breathers even helped (even though I do a loose Galloway so I’m getting a mini breather every 4 minutes anyway).

That’s the $64,000,000 question, right? Will I continue to take photos at races?

And the answer is maybe. Would I do it in a goal race? I don’t know. This wasn’t a goal race for me. Just like racing, whether or not I stop to take race photos again will depend on a lot of factors: the weather, how my race is going, whether or not it’s a scenic race, whether it’s a goal race or a fun run (hmmm, photos during Last Run? except it’s at night and cold — but maybe).

The real bottom line is can you stop to smell the roses, so to speak, and still push yourself? Our running coach for USAFit always tells us we can, and should.


Do you think taking race photos helps your race?

26 thoughts on “Do race photo stops make you faster?

  1. During the Chicago marathon, I stopped to snap a picture of those giant Mexican dancers. I never stop to take pix but I wanted to capture them. My shot at a PR was long gone, so I figured I may as well have fun! I’m sure I lost a few minutes on my finish time, but oh well.


  2. I run a lot of Disney where the idea is to stop and get pictures along the course. While I can’t claim the stops make me faster, I will admit to getting on my horse as soon as the picture is taken to make up some time. So it “feels” like the rest and then sprint to the next character stop makes me move faster than a steady state run. But a quick look at my finish times show that, no, it does not make me faster. 😉 More fun? Absolutely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful scenery for your race!
    And that is why I love a 15K, it may be my favorite to distance to race 🙂 I can actually push my pace but it isn’t long enough to kill me, like a half lol
    I usually snap while moving – sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t
    I did stop as Disney though and took a bunch, but I was there for the experience 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t imagine taking a photo whole running – I’d probably drop my ipod – I’m not that coordinated!

      I think this may be the only local 15k. Only one I know of, anyway.

      I dunno, felt as hard as a half! 10k on the other hand – long enough to be challenging, but doesn’t kill ya.


  4. I think it’s cool to have photos during a run, especially as a blogger trying to write a race recap! I’ve never stopped to take a photo but try to get photos on the fly. I think if you’re having fun, taking photos just makes sense. If I’m shooting for a PR, I really don’t think I could do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I stopped to take photos many times during my first half because I wanted them as a momento. During races, very few times. I keep my phone in my spibelt & it’s a pain to get in and out. I am a firm believer that walking when you are tired makes your finish time faster. I have tested this over and over. I want to get faster without stopping but it just doesn’t happen for me. But then again, everyone is different.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cute pics!

    Congrats on your race! I am running my first 15k next April in Philly.

    If the scenery is nice, I will stop for a picture. Those moments will never be the same again so I want to cherish them.

    My phone was acting crazy at the Brooklyn half and I didn’t get any pictures while running which I was bummed about because we ran through my old neighborhood and I really wanted to get those pictures.

    Every time I run a race in DC I always stop and take pics even though I could probably take them anytime but something about taking them while running is what I want to do-lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t know. I’ve never stopped during a race to take a picture. This includes Disney (people gasp at that!) I don’t even race with my phone. I do wish I had it when I ran through the canyons outside of Denver. It was breathtaking. I would have stopped…maybe. I was really close to a PR, so maybe not.


  8. Don’t you love running races with an automatic PR? Good job on pushing yourself!

    I don’t think taking pictures during my races has much of an effect on my race outcome, but of course I’m selective on which races I’m willing to stop and take pictures. Since getting my GoPro, I’m able to take pictures on the run and that makes it easier.


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