Running and Art, The Parallels
KREW member Peter Dawson from Bend, OR has been trail and ultra running for about a decade. Running began as a solo pursuit for him, but he has found a wonderful community of fellow artists, creatives, and eccentrics who are drawn to running for similar reasons.
Guest Blog by Krew member Peter Dawson
Lately I have been loving just exploring new trails and routes in Bend. We have so many trails here, and the high country is opening up after a late and heavy amount of snow in the winter. I could literally run a new route every day here and not run out of options! Exploration - new trails and routes - is key to my training because it keeps me motivated and adds so much variety, and I think variety is essential in training for ultra running.
Another thing that excites me about training is the satisfaction that comes with accomplishing a goal each day, no matter what else my day holds. As a freelance photographer, I never really know when or where my next shoot will come. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting around and doors aren’t opening, so at times I can lack a sense of accomplishment until the next shoot happens. With running, I can always set a goal for the day and go do it.
I love the strategic part of racing…the idea that I may not be the fastest or most talented runner, but if I am mentally and strategically strong I can still perform well. I like getting into a groove with other runners who are at my pace…meeting new people and then undergoing a crazy adventure with them. You can form such a great bond by just sharing miles out on the course, so it’s always exciting going into a race wondering who that might be and what you might experience together. I also love aid stations…they are like little mini versions of heaven.
Seeing my daughter grow…She’s 2, and everyday she is saying or doing new things and developing her personality. She’s extremely strong-willed and active and LOVES carbs, so I think she’ll be a great ultra runner!
Parallels between running and art
Much of what I find in common with running and art is going to the edge where nothing is certain and trying to make, or participate, in the magic that happens there. With my photography, I am trying to find landscapes, weather events, seasons, and lighting conditions that are extremely chaotic and unpredictable, but come together in a moment of harmony or beauty or interest that I can witness and record. Part of the art of photography is in creating a work that is a unique and special moment in time that cannot be repeated. This is the same attraction I have to running and why I think I love ultra trail running but have little interest in road running. I’m not looking for too much predictability. Art is made in unpredictability, exploration, and experimentation, and therefore trail and ultra running lean more toward the artistic than the purely athletic. It’s almost more like dance than it is running in that sense.
Running helps with creativity
Often when I come up with a new idea my initial reaction is to immediately begin critiquing it…to poke holes or come up with reasons that the idea isn’t a good one. To knock it down. However, I’ve observed that when an idea comes to me while running, my immediate reaction is “i can do this,” or, “there’s something good in this idea,” and then I continue to build on that as the trail continues and the miles pass by. Trail running is very meditative, and it helps my mind become uncluttered so I can think creatively and conceptually. Whether it is about art, business, daily life, or philosophical and spiritual matters, most of my best ideas and insights come while running.