Runner, model and co-founder of Last Pick Athletics Club, TAYLER PRINCE-FRASER talks health, goals and the euphoria of hitting the track.
On his background…
I was pretty overweight when I was younger - at one point I was clinically obese and as you can imagine, it didn’t make for a fun time throughout secondary school and making friends / courting girls. My dad didn’t have a lot of opportunities growing up and wanted to make sure I did, so he was very supportive of anything I wanted to do from a young age, whether that be Shōtōkan karate, learning a musical instrument or going vegetarian. At 10 years old, I decided to stop eating meat and as a result of this naturally healthier diet, I lost a lot of what my mum kindly referred to ‘puppy fat’. I ended up being put forward for the 200-metre run at the school sports day that same year and whereas previously I had dreaded taking part, it was the first time I actually looked forward to the event. I ended up winning the race! The memories of that day have become some of my most cherished - the feeling of success and achievement is something that up until that point I had never felt before. Even as I type this now I get the same feeling of butterflies and goose bumps I experienced then.
On getting involved…
That first school sports day win partly inspired me to found Last Pick Athletics Club (LPAC) with my brother Koen, created for individuals who want to change the way they look at exercise and fitness. Based around the motto, ‘looking sweaty and flustered is not a failure, it is a rite of passage,’ the group organises bi-weekly runs across London for anybody of any skill level who wants to be involved. By tapping into the anxieties we had in secondary school such as the fear of being laughed at by friends, the fear of being turned down by a crush, the fear of being picked last for the team – we created LPAC and turned all of those insecurities on their head. With the aim of bringing support instead of judgement, trial and error instead of strict rules, it gives its members the confidence to try any sporting activity with a can-do attitude.
My brother and I grew up on football - I have fond memories associated with Ford Super Sundays, five-aside matches and Sunday league games. People who are involved in the sport have such an emotional attachment to it, I think supporting a team can create a link to the past and present of the game, you get that sense of nostalgia and community that crosses generations. As a child, my growing passion for it helped me to deal with the frustrations that can arise when not achieving your aims straight away. After training for as long as I have, you learn the hard way that patience is your best friend, good sustainable results just don’t come quickly. Before starting a difficult run or training session, I compartmentalise it, ignoring the entirety of the task ahead. By breaking it down into small parts, I can focus on completing a few smaller tasks and the sense of accomplishment in doing so pushes you to continue on. I’m often asked what advice I would give to a complete novice who wants to start training more regularly and the main thing I always say is to take your time. Don’t try to rush everything, the best things come to those who are patient… oh and make sure you do your research beforehand!
I 100% run for the mental benefits as opposed to the physical. I started running regularly around the age of 17 knowing the sense of inner peace it can provide. I was living with my mum at the time who loved to go out jogging and I just followed her example. It was at that point that I was going hardcore at the gym and wanted to get cut so needed to incorporate some cardio into my regime.
I don’t specifically recall how I felt after that first run but I do know that without running my mental state isn’t good. Before I started training I was in a dark place, I was clashing with family, I had no real friends at school and my love life was non-existent, I distinctly remember feeling very alone and isolated. Exercise has become very important to my sense of wellbeing, but last summer I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation which put me out of any action for around five months. That was a really hard time and was the closest I’ve ever come to being back in the same headspace I was in before I started training. Aside from the obvious benefit of getting in shape, I’d say that sport has given me an outlet to help manage my emotions. I tend to use the time to think through problems or generally just help organise the things I need to do and anyway, there’s nothing better than taking out your anger on a boxing bag or on the track.
Top by SOAR
Three words to describe yourself?
Driven, rational and creative.
Three words your friends would use to describe you?
Tired, stressed, dreamer.
Favourite place to train?
Phoenix Gym at Gallions Hotel in London. I chose it as the location for this shoot.
What are your most used apps?
Bloomberg news, Business of Fashion and YouTube.
What are you currently reading?
The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison.
What’s your city’s best kept secret?
Chicken World in South Croydon - two chips, two burgers and drinks for £2.50.
Favourite place on Earth?
In a good book.
Who do you most admire and why?
Honourable mentions - my mum, my dad, my brothers and my best friend - my nan.
The best advice you've ever been given or favourite quote?
An anonymous Greek proverb that goes, “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
What’s your cure for procrastination?
A cold shower.
What would you like to do that you currently can’t?
Travel the Americas.
Where do you go to relax?
Do you have any phobias?
Deep water, small spaces, heights and failure.
What would you most like to change about the world?
I’m not sure I could write the answer to this with one sentence!
What personal best are you most proud of?
Hackney half marathon.
What fitness podcasts do you listen to?
What's your favourite music to run to?
Why do you run?
Interview by Ross Aston
Stylist Emma Hargadon