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AT FLANNELS: RUN CLUB WITH TILLY AND MO

AT FLANNELS: RUN CLUB WITH TILLY AND MO

Flannels blog article
At Flannels: RUN CLUB WITH TILLY AND MO

January. The moment we all make moves to become “better” versions of ourselves. To push our boundaries. Step out of our comfort zone. To create goals and dig deep to strive for something more.

And where do these goals often start? With a fresh approach to our health and fitness. Trying a new sport. Dusting off a gym membership. Lifting heavier weights or committing to get back on the mat. And for many, it means taking up or getting back to one of the world’s most popular pursuits: running.

Meet Tilly and Mo. Two London-based runners who are redefining what it means to run. Over a cold night in the city, we spoke to the duo about creating communities, what running means to them and how their style ties in. Allow them to motivate you, inspire you and maybe change how you approach your next run, with a little help from Pressio.

Welcome to the latest series of AT FLANNELS – a series dedicated to shining a light on creativity and culture across the UK.

‘Running is the only thing that has remained an absolute constant in my life,’ explains Tilly. Having started out running – as many of us do – in the playground as a kid, Tilly joined a local club aged 10. ‘It came with just wanting to be able to go really fast, and enjoying what that felt like… I was quick and it was exciting.’

For Mo, it’s been a later-in-life love. ‘There’s nothing else that matters while you’re out there running. You feel like stopping when you feel like stopping. That’s what got me really into running.’


As a personal trainer, Mo’s determined to share the love. ‘I want to get as many people as possible into running as I can,’ he explains. ‘My main goal is to try and convince people that running isn’t just something you do to lose weight - it’s something you do to change your life. It should be a part of everyone’s life.’

Part of life. It’s the easiest way to describe how running is ingrained into both Tilly and Mo’s experiences. Both keen advocates of social running, whether that’s at a track, in a run club, connecting virtually to others across the world or running with friends, it seems the secret to success is to create – or find – a community, and reframe how you approach it. A chore that has to be done? No. A fun, social activity that can take you places – literally and figuratively? Yes.

I WILL RUN IN MY HOOPS AND MY RINGS AND GLITTER. I DON'T HAVE TO CHANGE, or be A DIFFERENT PERSON WHEN TRAINING. - TILLY

‘Running alone is something I battle with mentally: to get out and find peace and comfort and not have everything scream and tell me to stop,’ says Tilly, ‘I have a WhatsApp group with friends that I'll message to say, 'who's down for a run today?'. Running with people not only provides immense accountability, but it also turns it into such a different experience, it's not just a run. It's a conversation, a way to learn about somebody and solve a problem, to approach  things you need to work out or create and an opportunity to brainstorm ideas: running ain't it.' 

Mo agrees: ‘You’re getting a sense of camaraderie, and you’re getting closer to friends. Everyone I’ve met from running, that shares a passion for running, I’ve become a lot closer to. It gives you a reason and accountability to go and get those runs in.’

So, how do we stay motivated? ‘Think of it as you’re running, but you’re not really running,’ advises Tilly. ‘You’re exploring a new part of your neighbourhood. You’re spending time on your own or with a friend. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to listen to a podcast or an album in a different way, or open up and have a conversation about something that you might not feel comfortable doing so with direct eye contact - talking about difficult things can sometimes be easier to tackle side by side. Never deny the difficulty; but embrace the toughness of it.’

Because running, whether you’re new to it or have been running for years, is hard. Stepping out of the front door on a freezing winter’s morning when it’s still dark? It’s enough to make anyone turn back. And there’s comfort in knowing that other people feel it too and that every runner started out in the same way.

‘Everybody is an athlete, and I don’t necessarily think running looks one way,’ states Mo. ‘When I attended run clubs, I saw that there are so many other people that do run. There’s so many people in different shapes and sizes that run. And different speeds and different techniques and different attire. Running is for everyone. If you have the ability to step out of the house and put one foot in front of the other, then you can become a runner.’

I LIKE TO BE COMFORTABLE, AND SPORTSWEAR OR TRACKSUITS ARE THE MOST COMFORTABLE. AND THAT JUST WORKS FOR MY STYLE. - MO

Mo himself went from running 5k to completing a marathon in eight months. Not only that, but when he decided to run a marathon, it was just on a random Sunday, of his own accord. Proof that running can look exactly how you want it to. Can fit into your life exactly how you need it to.

And it’s not just their friendships that running has seeped into, but for both, their style in and out of running has aligned.

‘My dream kit is breathable – I get really hot, really quickly – so, something that’s breathable and loose,’ says Mo. ‘If I’m not in running gear, I’m in tracksuit bottoms and an oversized hoodie. I like to be comfortable, and sportswear or tracksuits are the most comfortable. And that just works for my style.’

‘My style remains pretty consistent’ says Tilly. ‘I will run in my hoops and my rings and glitter. I don’t have to change, or be a different person when training. Why wouldn’t I want to feel as strong, confident and myself when I running, dancing, working or creating?’

For many, feeling confident and comfortable in their running threads can be the difference between stepping out the door and turning back, especially in those early days of training.

‘It's really important to feel comfortable, not only practically but also aesthetically. You want to feel like you,’ says Tilly. 'We can control what we feel (or want to feel) externally through the way we dress, and what we feel externally can help us internally and vice versa. If there's a day where I feel really terrible, and I'm going for a run, I wear my favourite kit, I put on my lipstick and all my glitter, and I run. I can look strong, and that will, hopefully,  make me run and feel strong inside.'

A great gym kit really does have the ability to make us feel comfortable and cool and confident. But when it comes to the act itself, will it ever feel, well, easy?

‘When you reach a point (and this point moves) when you feel like it’s not a chore, you trust yourself enough to get to the end and reach some peace, that's when you can feel the high. That's why it's worth it’ says Tilly. ‘But… let’s not it isn't going to be difficult along the way.’

IN COLLABORATION WITH PRESSIO
Talent: Mo Abdin and Tilly GW, Director: Jordan Malonga Photographer: Ede Dugdale, Creative and cultural production: Platform 13, Interview and words: Hannah Dunn, Locations: London Bridge and Crystal Palace Sports Centre.