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    How to Grow Your Instagram Profile as an Athlete.

    How to Grow Your Instagram Profile as an Athlete.

    When it comes to advertising yourself as an athlete there is no better place than Instagram. With over 1 billion active users and with 250 million of them using it every single day it seems like the perfect place to show case your athletic prowess. Some may see Instagram as a social media channel to browse through and keep up to date with friends and family, others may see it as a welcomed distraction from ever day life but there is a growing trend of people seeing it as a marketing tool, where they can communicate with brands, advertise their personal profile or business and for some it is a way of making a living. Increased awareness and following on Instagram can help athletes connect with brands and businesses. The more followers and engagement a person has the more influence and opportunity they have to commercialise it. Brands also see this as a great way of communicating with their target audience and will often sponsor, gift, offer discounts and even pay for people to promote their brand utilising influencers.


    It is by no means an easy task generating a strong and loyal following unless you are a member of One Direction. It’s unfortunately a little harder than just creating a profile and expecting the followers to roll in. So let’s have a look at genuine ways to create a highly engaged profile for athletes that can turn your profile from Mr Average Joe Bloggs to Billy the Whizz.

    1) Generate Initial Following and Interest from Friends and Family

    This seems like an obvious one. But when you are first starting out , use your contacts and connections to help kick off your page. Follow your friends and family, like and comment on their pictures so they know you are now on Instagram. These first few connections show other users that you are a genuine and real account.

    2) Produce High Quality Content

    If you look at the majority of highly followed accounts they all have one thing in common. They have high quality images and videos. Simply uploading a selfie with low resolution just won’t cut it anymore. People are stimulated by high quality and engaging images and short form videos that are inspiring or evoke a reaction. Make sure your pictures are maximum resolution and are visually aesthetic. Take a look at accounts that you love that have huge engagement and see how you can tailor your page to produce great content like them. People who are scrolling through Instagram have unlimited content thrown at them on a daily basis. You have to think, "why would someone stop on my profile and follow my account". The better the images and more engaging the videos the more likely you are to get people to follow your account. If you use high quality images and tag companies or brands, you are more likely for them to repost your picture and tag you in it - to their following which will improve your visibility.


    3) Regular Updated Posts

    People go on Instagram to see what is going on and for an easy escape from the real world. If you are not consistently in their news feed then you will be more likely forgotten about. With constant changes in the algorithm it can be difficult to understand how often to post for maximum engagement levels. We recommend to try and post good quality photos or videos once a day at a minimum. But remember to not sacrifice quality in place of quantity. If you are able to update your profile twice a day with great quality content it makes your profile more visible and for people to be able to more easily identify you. The other opportunity is to produce regular engaging instagram stories. Utilising this tool can prove to be tremendous for your visibility and we cove it more in the next point.

    4) Utilise Instagram Stories

    Instagram has overtaken snapchat in the short form content which erases itself after a period of time. The main reason for this is because of instagrams active user base is huge and it has seamlessly integrated this functionality into is platform. 400 million of instagrams users have used instagram stories and it is on the rise. Make sure you create short snappy pieces of content using your story. Provide behind the scenes of athletic events you go to, an insight into your training or day. Always be providing value to your audience in some form. Also utilise the tools on offer like the voting feature or the new question feature. Allow your audience to interact with you and engage with you.  

    5) Provide Value

    The best instagrammers out there provide value to their audience in some form or another. Let's say you are a sprinter for example if you just post images of you running, yes you may gain some followers and your followers may enjoy seeing images of you sprint but take it to the next level and give your audience even more value. Create instagram stories of your training, give them some drills they can try for themselves to improve speed, provide behind the scenes at athletic events you go to. Think out side the box and give your audience more than you expect back from them. 

     6) Be Authentic

    There are far too many people out there trying to copy others, as they have been successful on instagram. What works for one person may not work for another. Be authentic to yourself. If you are down right hilarious and make humorous content around your workouts or training then that is great, but if you are a complete bore, then don't try and be funny. Instead provide value by being more informative, give more useful tips and relevant informative content to your audience. 


    7) Use relevant and specific Hashtags

    Another way of expanding your reach and visibility is by adding hashtags to your posts. Hashtags are still not dead and people often use this feature to discover new content in that particular niche. Make sure your hashtags are relevant and searchable. People use hashtags all the time to identify connections with the same interests, so make sure you add hashtags that can be easily searched and that your target audience will be looking for. For example if you are a triathlete add hashtags such as Triathlon, triathlete, Ironmantri, Ironman70.3 as an example.


    8) Stand out from the Crowd

    Make sure your page has an identity. Standing out from the crowd can be very difficult in a very crowded market but try your best to be unique and stand out. Give your pictures and the feel of your Instagram an identity. We are not saying you have to be drastically different but by unique we mean make your profile engaging with images that are aligned and are structured. If you want to be followed by weightlifters for example make sure your page is tailored towards weightlifting, don’t mix your personal pictures with your weightlifting pictures. Make it unique by keeping a theme to the page and adding your individual touch. Brands are far more likely to engage with Influencers who have a targeted following with a unique page that stands out from the crowd.
    9) Utilise Video 
    80% of content by 2019 will apparently be video. This highlights that video is going to be essential. Images work great on instagram but integrating some video into your instagram feed can be hugely beneficial. Even though you are limited to 1 minute videos, you can provide a lot of value and produce highly engaging content. Be clever with your content, think about what your audience want to see. 

    10) Tag relevant pages and companies

    Another way of increasing your visibility is to tag relevant companies, pages and brands. For example if you are wearing an Airofin Jersey tag @airofin_athletic to make sure the brand see’s it, their followers see it and it will give the company an opportunity to repost your pictures. Tagging pages like @ironmantri if you are a triathlete can give you the opportunity to be reposted to a much larger audience which again improves your visibility and reach.

    11) Cross promote your profile with other athletes
    You can work with athletes you know or with similar size profiles to cross promote each other. Drop them a message and ask if they would be willing to do a cross promotion. Ask them to give you a shoutout on instagram stories in exchange for one back. This will help your audience become more aware of them as an athlete and will help you become more visible to their audience. If you meet other athletes at events, then getting a picture together and tagging all the athletes in it can work great and in return see if they will again share the image and tag you on their page. Even better than this would be creating content with other athletes that could be of value to both of your audiences and agree to both distribute across your channels making sure you tag each other in the posts. 
    12) Engage, comment and interact

    Unless you are regularly engaging and commenting with your followers and people you follow, you are going to remain fairly invisible. Make sure you take time out to comment on other peoples photo’s, like the pictures that you follow and interact with people that take the time out to comment on your pictures. We are not saying spam your feed with likes or comments, anyone can do that. Take time to read your followers posts and write them a message or like their pictures. Without this interaction you will find it difficult to gain the followers you desire and also the engagement on your page. You can also give your followers the opportunity to ask you questions via the instagram stories "questions" feature. 

    13) Promote your page via your other social channels

    If you have other pages such as Facebook, twitter or even a blog, make sure you link your Instagram account to them. Let your friends and connections on those sites know you are now on Instagram and get them to follow you. The more friends and connections early on you can get to follow you, will help other people know you are a real and genuine account.
    14) Use Paid Ads
    If you want to reach more people then you can pay to promote yourself. Make sure you do not waste money just paying to promote a generic picture as it will have a very low return on investment. Produce a short 30 second video explaining what you are about, or even share one of your highest performing videos which explains a little more. Pushing out a generic static image of you is going to have a very poor return on spend. Reach your target audience in whatever region you are looking to promote yourself or your services (If you are a personal trainer for example) and provide a video that makes them stop and want to click on your profile, in the hope that they will then follow you. 

    15) Hard work and effort

    It is not easy to generate extensive followers and engagement especially now. Instagram wants influencers and brands to pay to reach all of their audience. Remember if it was easy, everybody would have huge followings and would be being sponsored and paid to promote the biggest brands in the world. Unfortunately it takes, hard work, dedication, patience and a lot of persistence. Keep at it and your hard work will pay off and that is when companies will start working with you and might even give you discounted products for you to promote to your audience and as your audience increases to the tens of thousands you can start charging to get brands to promote their products.

    Remember building a large loyal following takes time, dedication patience and persistence. Don’t look at people with large followings and get disheartened that your following is still relatively small compared to them. They have probably worked very hard to build that kind of presence on Instagram or are already famous or well known. The problem with today’s society is we expect things and we expect them now, not in a year not in a month, but now. So remember it will take time but don't get discouraged. If you are willing to put the time and effort in, then the following will come and the rewards will also follow suit. Hope this helps some of you with your profile! :)

    The Top 5 Marathons in the World (that you probably don't know about)

    The Top 5 Marathons in the World (that you probably don't know about)

    We didn't want to do another standard post about how great the London, Boston or Tokyo marathons are. Yes they are brilliant races, which are well organised have huge attendance and are a lot of fun. But if you are looking for something slightly different to the norm then here are the 5 marathon races you should check out; 

    1) Big Sur International Marathon

    One of the most challenging courses along the California coastline is the Big Sur International Marathon which takes place in the month of April. The course is a struggle through hills and head wind, but the scenery offers runners a big reward. The course takes runners through redwood forests and offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Live entertainment throughout the run may help keep you motivated, too. This is one we would recommend for sure. 

    2) The Big Five Marathon

    The Big Five Marathon in South Africa which takes place in June, will provide you with a marathon and a safari rolled into one. Named for the famed Big Five African game animals -- leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and buffalo -- the course runs among wildlife in the Limpopo province’s Entabeni Safari Conservancy. You might even be lucky enough to run alongside antelope, giraffes, zebras and lions, as the course does not have anything to separate the runners from the African wildlife. If dodging lions was not enough runners must negotiate steep altitude changes and rocky footing.

    3) Great Wall Marathon 

    Deemed one of the toughest marathons in the world, the Great Wall Marathon  which takes place in May, challenges runners to climb more than 5,164 steps of the Great Wall, and finish by running through Chinese villages. First run in 1999, the Great Wall marathon has gained popularity over the years, with more than 2,500 entrants. 

    4) Great Ocean Road Marathon

    The visually stunning views of Australia's Southern Ocean are enough to make you forget your legs are dying (or at least enough to make it bearable). The Great Ocean Road Marathon is in the month of May. You'll travel along Victoria's Great Ocean Road and take in the beautiful landscapes for the entire 44 kilometers. And if you're traveling from out of town, there's plenty to see and do in Victoria -- from exploring Apollo Bay and the surrounding picturesque seaside town with restaurants famous for their crawfish to the breathtaking mountains with its diversity of wildlife and weather conditions.

    5) Puerto Rica Marathon

    The Puerto Rico Marathon in the month of March is a popular destination race, combining a Caribbean vacation with first-class competition. You run 26.2 miles along the Atlantic and various lagoons, seeing the amazing scenery, and then recover on the beach sipping on a piña colada ;)  (This race is also a Boston and New York Marathon qualifier) 

    Looking for the perfect marathon top then check out some of Air Run T-shirts available now. 

    The Best Hamstring Exercises for Runners

    The Best Hamstring Exercises for Runners

     Most runners are quad dominant or in danger of becoming more quad dominant. This is where the quad muscles overpower the action of the hamstrings in the movement of the leg during a running stride. This can quickly lead to a host of hamstring issues, with strains, pulls and tears topping the list as the most common maladies.

    So why are hamstrings so important for runners?

    When you run, the quadriceps contract as you land and the opposing muscles, the hamstrings, act as the brake to stop your knee from hyperextending at the end of a stride. The quad works when the knee is locked out in extension with movement taking place at the hip.

    If your hamstrings are significantly weaker than your quads, one of two things will occur:

    1. Your hamstrings will tear as a result of not being able to take the load developed by the contracting quadriceps

    2. You will run slower as a result of the diminished power from the hip flexors and knee extensors

    So It is probably a good idea to start looking at adding in some hamstring exercises to your workouts.

    We have provided 3 of the best exercises to develop stronger hamstrings.

    1. Kettlebell swings
    2. Single-arm/single-leg Romanian deadlifts
     
    3. The prone leg curl

    The results found that these three exercises stimulate the hamstrings similarly and may be used interchangeably, as part of a strength building workout for runners.

    What Should You Look For In A Good Triathlon Suit?

    What Should You Look For In A Good Triathlon Suit?

     

    We are not here to write about how good our suits are or anything like that, we want to give you an informed explanation on how to chose the right triathlon suit or shorts and singlet for you.

    There area few things you should look for when choosing a triathlon suit.

    Sleeved or vested

    There has been an increase in availability of sleeved suits of recent, with long-course athletes in particular adopting them for their drag-reducing benefits. Sleeved suits have now caught on over all race distances, backed further by the ITU allowing them to be used in competition in 2016.

    A vested suit has slightly less fabric and with bare arms it will keep you cooler if you really struggle with overheating. You’ll also get more freedom of movement, particularly useful for pool triathlons where you don’t have a wetsuit over the top. A sleeved suit will have drag reducing features and will be better for longer distance, where skin protection from sun is an important factor.

    There is no right or wrong with choosing between the two style of suits, it is primarily down to preference and which you will be more comfortable racing in.

    Suit or Shorts and Singlet

    Most elite racers chose to wear a suit over triathlon shorts and a singlet and this is mainly down to the fact that it allows a more streamlined approach and means the top does not ride up during the race. If you do race in warmer conditions where you do not need a wetsuit you can swim in the triathlon shorts and then at the first transition put the triathlon singlet on for the cycle and the run. Again this is entirely down to preference but most people chose to opt for a suit as it saves time having to put on a top at the first transition.

    Level of Padding

    Some suits have thicker padding than others and dependant on the race distance and the length of the bike portion the thickness of padding should be taken into account. If you are competing in a long distance race where there is a long bike portion, a thicker chamois pad is perhaps better even though it may not be as streamline in the water and as comfortable on the run. The bike segments can take its toll on your derriere. If you want an all round suit for both long and short distance races then finding a suit with medium thickness for the pads can be a wise idea.

    Pockets

    Some suits do have pockets and some don’t. The benefits of no pockets is that it limits drag in the water and potentially on the bike. However if you are racing with a wetsuit this should not be a problem and the pockets are usually tight enough on the bike segment to reduce any drag. Having pockets for a long distance race can be a great place to keep any energy gels, repair kits or food for the race. Most suits have small tight rear pockets and we are a fan of them but again it is down to preference.

    The Right Fit

    In regards to fit it is essential that you get a suit that is the right size for you. If it is too big then this can cause drag and also friction or irritation. If the suit is too small it can prove to be difficult for flexibility on the swim and getting in an aero position on the bike. Finding a suit that is the right size is essential so check the measurements first. 

    These are our top tips for choosing a triathlon suit and if you are looking for a new suit, then please take a look at our latest award winning Agility pro triathlon suit.


    Is Crossfit Beneficial for a Swimmer

    Is Crossfit Beneficial for a Swimmer

    CrossFit has been around since the early 2000's and is now a widely participated sport worldwide with CrossFit boxes in almost every country, but is it worth taking on this sport to improve your swimming. 

    So Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of CrossFit as supplementary training for a swimmer.

    To provide further context, CrossFit training involves various exercises, from bodyweight, olympic lifts to endurance based activities. All these exercises are usually combined into circuits creating high-intensity training sessions called WODs (workout of the day) - lasting anywhere from roughly 10-45 minutes. 

    CrossFit uses a variety of muscle groups at the same time with a strong focus around core strength. The workouts are all high intensity that are timed and they are all performance related. Sounds slightly similar to swimming right?

    The points listed above are some of the PROs of CrossFit in relation to swimming. There are definite similarities and so it could be said to be a really functional kind of training for a swimmer - we are not suggesting a swimmer replaces actual swim training for CrossFit but looks to supplement it in to a training plan.

     

    So are there any CON's to including CrossFit into your swimming training plan.... 

    The exercises are not always very easy to perform. The movements to be performed can often be fairly complex and technique is extremely important. Without good technique the risk of injury can be extremely high. Moreover, bearing in mind that fatigue kicks in at a certain point in the WOD, the risk of hurting yourself is even higher.

    Sometimes the internal training load of a specific exercise is not sufficiently precise or given due consideration. To explain what an internal training load is, imagine you have two people in front of you, one conditioned and the other fairly unconditioned. They are both asked to lift a 50 kg weight. 50 kg is the external (objective) training load; somebody who is trained will have a lower internal (subjective) training load, because it will be easier for them to lift this weight. Some WODs do not take this into account, because they have standard external training loads, differing only for men and women. They sometimes do offer a scaled option and we would recommend if you are unfamiliar to weightlifting and CrossFit to start with the scaled option. 

    Overall we would suggest there are some solid benefits to incorporating CrossFit into your Swimming training and if there is a Box near you it would be worth giving a go.