6 runners you should follow

… On Instagram! (Please not in real life). I know that a lot of you are really enjoying my marathon training content, and with that in mind I thought I’d share with you some of the people who inspire me with my training. Give them all a follow – I promise you won’t regret it!

 

Holly Rush (@rushbynature)

An advocate of trail running here – Holly is one badass woman. I first heard about her whilst watching Asics’ coast to coast Dubai – Oman video as she was one of the 5 Asics frontrunners taking part. Follow for long(ish) captions and thoughts on running and races. She also ran the Tokyo marathon last year so I’ve been pestering her for tips!

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Adrienne Herbert (@adrienne_LDN)

If you’re looking for motivation in all aspects of your life, look no further. The amazing Adrienne practically oozes motivation in every Instagram story. She is the co-founder of ‘Get To Know’ (a community of creative women), host of Power Hour podcast, with guests such as Fearne Cotton, AJ Odudu and Deliciously Ella and a mum! Somehow in between all the other things she does she has time to run, showing us that time doesn’t have to be a barrier to staying healthy.

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Tashi Skervin-Clarke (@tashi_skervinclarke)

I first met Tashi around 3y ago and have followed her running journey since. She is a personal trainer and running coach and writes amazing captions about running and the effect it can have on us. Follow for a balanced approach to running and strength training. Running faster is not just about running more!

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Latoya Shauntay Snell (@Iamlshauntay)

I think I can across Latoya on twitter after someone shared a blog post she wrote on fat shaming. Shauntay doesn’t look like what you’d probably think of when I say ‘badass marathoner’, but marathoner she is, and badass she definitelyis. Her highlight ‘Who’s Latoya’ explains her journey but in all honesty I’m just amazed at anyone who can run as many marathons as she does. An inspiration.

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Max Wilkocks (@maxwilko)

As the co-founder of the Track Life podcast, Max talks a lot about running. In fact there’s very little else he talks about or does. Summers and winters are spent racing around the track and on disgustingly long races (although he insists 10k is his favourite). Follow for beautiful pictures and the sort of complaining about running only a runner could do.

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Rory Southworth (@rorysouthworth)

If you’re more a fan of the mountains than road running, Rory is the man to follow. Epic pictures of scrambles up rocks combined with shoe reviews (he’s sponsored by Salomon) means this account never gets boring. This will make you want to get out of the city and to any one of the locations he travels to!

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FAQs on Instagram DM

These are some of the most commonly asked questions on my Instagram and YouTube. I try to reply to everyone who messages me, but it may be quicker to find the answers in the content I have already produced. Enjoy!

 

Where do you work/what do you do/how can I get into it?

Edit: I now work as a social media consultant, freelance writer and as a blogger 🙂 Left this up in case you would like to go into science comms! It’s an amazing job and I would recommend it to anyone.

I work in science media and PR – in short I act as a go-between between scientists/doctors and journalists, to make sure the journalists understand any important research coming out, and to make sure that exciting new research is getting into the press. I absolutely love my job – I think it’s so important that the public understands scientific and media research, and it empowers people to make their own decisions about how they want to live their lives.

I am currently working at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which works on women’s health globally, but especially in the UK. I run their twitter account and do a bunch of other stuff too, to do with communicating Obs and Gynae research and news to the general public.

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy (science communications could be to do with anything from environment to medicine to engineering), then I would really recommend getting some work experience, including writing about relevant topics for your student or local newspaper and maybe starting a blog on your favourite topic, if you enjoy writing. Show how keen you are – I did months of unpaid work experience just because I loved it and wanted to show that. I would also recommend joining ABSW and STEMPRA to hear about job opportunities and get the chance to talk to people who have the job you want to get 🙂

 

What are your favourite activewear brands?

I’m not sponsored by any particular brand at the moment, but I love sharing other brands that I use. I have two vlogs on my favourite activewear – for everyday and winter running.

In terms of shoes, I wear a combination of different running shoes. Everyone is different, so I am reluctant to recommend shoes for others, but my favourites are Asics Gel nimbus 20, Adidas Ultraboost, Hoka One One Clifton 6 and for trails Columbia Caldorado II.

If you’re looking for new trainers, give this vlog with my coach a watch before buying and remember, everyone is unique!

 

Are you vegan?

No, not technically. However, I find labels unhelpful – I would call myself ‘plant-based’ if I had to label how I eat. I have been pescetarian since I was 4. I gave up fish in 2017 for environmental reasons (I studied marine and conservation Biology at uni and couldn’t really ignore what I had just learned). Shortly after that I also cut down significantly on dairy and cut out eggs totally. Now I eat a totally plant-based diet, but since I occasionally wear leather I don’t call myself vegan. In my eyes, every small step someone makes to make better decisions is a step in the right direction.

I share a lot of vegan food on my Instagram and my YouTube to show people that there are a lot of vegan options out there, even if you don’t associate with being vegan, or even vegetarian. Read my blog post on the topic here.

 

How can I cure my injury?

I get asked everyday about resolving injuries, especially those from running. I am not a physio, so can’t provide advice except my personal experience of ITBS. If you have niggles, you may find this vlog with my physio helpful, or this blog post on shin splints. Nothing beats visiting a physio though, so if your niggles continue, please do speak to a professional.

 

Do you have a YouTube?

YES! I finally have YouTube after around two years of deliberation. Check it out, watch and subscribe – enjoy!

Check out my twitter, instagram and blog too.

 

How do I lose weight/tone up/look like you?

I’m not a dietitian or a personal trainer, so I don’t like to give out personalised advice. I couldn’t anyway, since I know nothing about your diet, activity levels, metabolism or anything else. My Instagram aims to help you find enjoyment in living a healthy lifestyle – I am not going to give someone a personalised plan to ‘lose weight’.

I look like I do through a combination of working out in a way that I enjoy, eating a diet that I enjoy and genetics. Even if you followed everything I do to the letter, chances are we’d still end up looking pretty different.

 

How often do you workout/how do you train?

I’ve also got plenty of vlogs on my YouTube on my workout split (which changes according to my goals). However, please read above for what I think about copying workouts and expecting the same results – that’s not how it works sadly.

I always like to incorporate a mix of resistance training, HIIT and cardio into each week, whether that’s though boxing, running, weights, physio, classes or anything else. I think everyone should have a baseline fitness in strength training and cardio for all round health and fitness and to avoid injuries.

 

What are your favourite podcasts?

I have a vlog and blog post on my favourite podcasts. These need updating a little but are a great place to start! I love running with podcasts 🙂

 

Can you promote my product?

If you’d like to collaborate, please contact my agent at hannah@wmodel.eu.

 

I hope that helps answer your questions! Follow and DM me on instagram or twitter to find out more 🙂

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Social media and mental health

How to enjoy real life (aka get off social media)

 

… from someone who works three jobs in social media.

 

Before I set out, I’d just like to state that I love Instagram and all it has done for me, but am writing this because I think it’s important that we are all aware of the potential impacts it can have on our lives. I hope you enjoy it!

When was the last time you left the house without your phone? Spent a day ignoring all all social media? If you can’t remember and think it might have been some time a century ago, you’re not alone. A recent study showed that 91% of 16-24 year olds use social media, spending an average of over 2h everyday scrolling through feeds of friends, celebrities and others, with well over 3h daily screen time. Spending all this time on our phones has had known impacts on our mental health. In a study that came out recently, instagram was found to severely harm peoples’ mental health, affecting sleep, body image and causing fear of missing out – all things I can vouch for on a personal level. Snapchat, Facebook and twitter followed close behind in terms of damage to mental health, increasing anxiety and feelings of inadequacy in users. The effects of social media use don’t stop there either – last week it became evident that social media was linked to the 68% increase in hospital admission for self-harm. This was the second well-publicised study this year to directly link social media to worsening mental health.

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Instagram is the worst social media channel for mental health

When we look through our social media feeds, what do we see? We see carefully curated lives excelling at various things and it’s only natural to compare our real ups and downs to this polished highlight reel. Thankfully, for many, social media is used only recreationally, and reducing usage shouldn’t be too hard. However, for many others, social media is a job – a means of earning money and a way of life. The more time you spend on social media, the more careful you have to be that it’s not negatively impacting you. If you’re reading this, you probably have instagram, and if you have instagram chances are you’re already addicted (sorry).

 

Signs you might be addicted to your phone

  • You check it regularly even without notifications
  • You get ‘phantom buzz’ syndrome (when you swore it vibrated but alas no messages)
  • You feel naked if you leave the house without it
  • You forgot to actually enjoy something because you were too busy recording/photographing it

 

How to track your phone usage

  • Checky (measures how many times you check your phone)
  • Moment (tracks how long you spend on different apps on your phone – you can also do this on iphones in settings > battery > battery usage then clicking the clock top right)

 

Intrinsic v extrinsic self-esteem

Understanding that social media is not real life, however important it is to you, is one of the most important things I’ve done for my happiness in my adult life. I started my instagram over 5 years ago, and I quickly found that many used it as a way of creating a ‘perfect’ life, viewed by others as ‘goals’. But how realistic are these things to upkeep? The chances are, that girl you think has the perfect life, just doesn’t – that’s not to say she’s unhappy, but the chances are that she has problems and fears, just like the rest of us. Just look at the story of Essena O’Neil.

So how can SM be improved? The Royal Society for Public Health’s #statusofmind report suggested various measures instagram could implement to reduce the negative impacts it could have on its 800 million users, such as heavy usage warnings – how often is it that we suddenly find that it’s been 30 minutes since we started scrolling through instagram and felt like 5 minutes. Other suggestions included identifying and signposting help to users showing signs of mental health issues, and highlighting when photos have been digitally edited – it’s one thing having body-envy, and a totally different thing being envious of a literally unachievable photoshopped body, and important to note the difference.

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One of the measures instagram could implement to make it a safer platform 

When I started instagram, I found that many said they started their accounts to help them feel connected to people with similar interests. The irony is that the more time we spend on social, the lonelier we feel – it’s been proven. We are so versatile as humans that we’ve changed in one generation from developing self-acceptance at a young age to looking to likes and follows for validation, and I know how quickly that happens. It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s going on on social media and lose track of our real lives, our real connections and friends. The positive feedback cycle of posting, receiving validation and then posting again to receive more validation is easily formed and not easily undone. It’s altering where we look to for self-validation, changing us from people who are self-assured to people who struggle to accept ourselves without others accepting us first. It’s important to remember that we are all on our own journeys, no one is a finished product and you cannot compare your journey to anyone else’s final destination.

 

Boredom 

The constant distraction from phones means we are rarely, if ever, truly bored. Boredom is the source of a lot of ingenuity, self-reflection and contemplation, and without it we may be reducing the creative capacity of our brains. When you sit on a train, what are you doing? Playing a game? Editing photos? Messaging people? Waking along the street, do you have your phone in your hand in case you need to check it? We hate to be bored, preferring to fill our time with ‘productive’ activities. If pushed, people would literally rather administer electric shocks than sit doing nothing for 15 minutes (look up the study, it’s crazy). A book called ‘bored and brilliant’ set out 6 steps to acing boredom, and surprise surprise, the first two were to do with getting off social and disconnecting from the world on the other side of your phone. It’s so easy to fill time nowadays, but it might not always be good. Boredom has been linked to increased productivity, creativity and pro-social behaviour (being nice to people and doing good deeds). When you’re rushing around all day, there’s no time to think. But when you’re alone, there’s nothing to do BUT think. And all that time to think might just turn you into the creative, brilliant, social butterfly everyone on social media thinks you already are.

 

How to be more social, without being on social

  • Put your phone away in your bag whilst walking around. Look around you, enjoy your surroundings and don’t keep checking your phone. You’ll be surprised what you notice when you’re looking up rather than down.
  • Put your phone away when talking to people. This is just common courtesy – you may think that you can text/read messages whilst listening to your friend but you just can’t. I promise you. Don’t leave your phone on the table, put it in your bag or coat pocket to avoid checking it every 5 minutes. Your friends will thank you too.
  • Put your phone away when eating. This is not only good for your mental health, it is also good news for your physical health too. Paying attention to what you are eating increases feelings of satiety and enjoyment of food, meaning you’re less likely to over eat.
  • Listen to podcasts or music instead of playing on your phone when on public transport. Taking out your phone as soon as you sit down is unnecessary. Pay attention to things around you.
  • Turn off notifications – I can’t stress this enough. It’s rare that a notification is so important that it needs to be checked immediately, and looking at your instagram photo every time it gets a new like just isn’t useful.
  • Set time without your phone before bed. Did you know that 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their phones under or next to their pillow? The more you use screens before bed, the lighter your sleep, and the longer it takes you to get there. In a world where we are already limiting our sleep to get more done, we need every minute. Put your phone away from the bed, then spend time reading or just thinking before going to sleep. If it’s hard, you know you need to practise more.
  • Set aside social media time and prioritise real life the rest of the time. When I know I can use my phone for 5-10 minutes every hour, I’m much less likely to check it during that hour.
  • Schedule posts. This is especially useful if you work in social media. Twitter apps such as hootsuite and buffer make this really easy, and for instagram drafts can be made all at once and posted later, meaning you’re spending less time thinking of something to post when you’re busy.
  • Delete social apps that you don’t really need. Whether that’s twitter, instagram or facebook. You don’t have to delete your account, but deleting the apps can be a good way to reduce usage.
  • Do other things that you love! If you find that you have time to scroll through SM feeds for hours, you probably have time to do a hell of a lot of other amazing stuff too! Just think of all the things you could get done if you just put down your phone for the day…

 
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Get outside, notice your surroundings and enjoy real life!

University – to drink or not to drink?

The rise of the twenty-something granny

Walking through the university gym at 5pm, picking my way over groups of people on the floor, it’s difficult not to notice the number of groups of girls doing a similar sort of workout. With sweaty faces and various weights laid out beside them, it’s easy to tell they too have joined the biggest female fitness community – Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide. And of course there are no weights left on the rack for me to start week 20. Back at home at the end of the day, I ask my friend what she has planned for the evening. Contrary to what outsiders might expect of a uni student with no current deadlines, her response doesn’t involve any drinking, or even staying out late. 10:30pm bedtime after a home cooked dinner is her day-off plan.

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24 year old Kaya Itsines (@kayla_itsines), creator of BBG – the bikini body guide. IG following: 5.6m

So why is this? Why are more and more people eschewing getting ‘hammered’ and passing out for early beds and the gym? At our weekly athletics socials, the number of people who are not drinking because they have a race, or a deadline, or simply because their body needs a rest is amazing. This isn’t to say that our socials are boring and quiet, and it’s certainly not saying that everyone is tee-total, but it’s hard not to notice that certain people are getting more “sensible” with their drinking habits.

As a nation, the UK has been decreasing alcohol consumption since 2002, and despite what the Daily Mail might have you believe, alcohol sales peaked way back in 2004, and have been falling since then. A ‘YouGov’ study showed that in the UK, “one third (33%) of those surveyed have cut down on their alcohol consumption in the past year with a further ten percent saying they have given up alcohol completely.” In addition, “the proportion of young adults (16-25) who reported that they do not drink alcohol at all [increased] between 2005 and 2013.” The stats go some way to explaining people’s views towards alcohol and drinking. 44% of those surveyed agreed that alcohol is bad for your health – perhaps a surprisingly small amount, but a start nonetheless.

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Amount of alcohol drank on the heaviest drinking day in the last week by gender, showing a gradual decrease in over drinking from 2005 – 2012. This fall is driven by the younger age groups (Drinking Habits Amongst Adults, 2012)

Speaking to some friends who don’t drink much, I asked why they had decided to cut back on alcohol. The answers could be split into two categories: maximising productivity and the ever increasing view that being drunk is unattractive. It seems that with the increasing pressures of today, taking a day off for a hangover, or even just working at a sub-optimal level is an unacceptable side-effect of drinking. As one person put it, ‘it’s just un-conducive to life’. If you think about it, spending £9,000 a year on fees for a university education means that every wasted moment costs money – money many people can ill afford. I believe more people are viewing university as an opportunity, not just academically but also with everything else university has to offer, such as sports. One friend stated that the choice of drinking or not drinking was all down to priorities. “Drinking leads to many attractive traits, such as… increased confidence and relaxation, but for me these are outweighed by the negatives”. For her, these include consequences to fitness and health, and understandably, anyone who takes their health seriously is not going to go out drinking to dangerous levels on a regular basis.

The second category I came across about why people don’t drink is one that denotes changing views of drunkeness. Interestingly, attitudes towards drinking in society vary across countries, regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed. In the UK, Scandinavia, US an Australia, drinking is associated with violent and antisocial behaviour, whereas in the Mediterranean and some South American cultures, drinking behaviour is viewed as peaceful and sociable. Therefore perhaps it is not surprising that the way drunkenness is viewed can change temporally as well as spatially. The view of a drunken man or woman, especially if they are young, is seen as unattractive, and somewhat tragic, in the same way that anyone out of control is negatively viewed.

The time that I started to notice youths taking more care of their health admittedly came from a slightly skewed portion of the population. I got my fitness instagram when I was 17, and saw a growing community of girls (and many guys), making health and fitness a high priority in their lives – much more so than (thought often alongside) popularity and partying. However, looking around me in school, then home, then university gyms, I saw the change spreading outside of instagram into the ‘real world’. Smiling at early 20-somethings running on the downs, we share a moment of recognition of the other’s effort to look after their body. Because let’s be honest – when you’re stressed with work and tired from everyday life, sometimes running is the last thing you want to do. But making the effort to get out, get some fresh air and get the endorphins pumping starts a positive feedback loop of self-improvement, that clearly is starting to take effect on more than just those who might consider themselves ‘fit-freaks’ or amateur athletes. Living a healthy lifestyle is truly becoming accessible for all. For me, reducing the amount I drink on a weekly basis has been a natural progression – if I have training planned, or a deadline, or really anything that requires full functioning of my brain or body the day after a night out, chances are I won’t drink (much). It’s surprisingly simple – and I’m a social sec!

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22 year old Jen Selter (@jenselter) – health and fitness advocate, known for her ‘belfies’ (butt selfies, don’t ask). Instagram following: 9.9m

So where is drinking culture at universities moving to now? I think that looking at social media accounts can give a good clue as to what is considered ‘cool’, and what certain attitudes are. Gone are the days of ‘heroine chic’ stick thin models – now it’s all about fitness and health, or at least looking like you’re fit. Social media celebrities such as Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines) or Jen Selter (@jenselter) are not going out of fashion any time soon, so perhaps the view that fit is good is here to stay. And with it is going to be the rise of the ‘sensible youths’ – earlier bed times, less alcohol, better nutrition, more fitness. I’m yet to find a university that’s filled more with fit-freaks than drunk freshers, but I have no doubt that that’s the direction it’s moving in. Maybe it’s about time for a bigger university gym.