There are two things that Denise Lewis does better than nearly everyone else in the UK: athletics... and not looking at her phone all the time.
The Olympian, who won a gold for the Heptathlon at the 2000 Sydney games, is the host of a new Google-backed podcast, Runtethered, which explores the benefits and joy that come from focusing on a sport, task or challenge - rather than your phone.
And she really is the best person to present it.
New research released by the tech giant found that British adults’ phone addiction is worse than ever, with 35% of mobile phone owners rarely more than a few inches away from their device and 17% say they can’t go more than 20 minutes without looking at their phone. Shockingly, 16% can’t even make it past half an hour without needing to check their device.
The stats are simply mind-boggling (and sure to be familiar for most of us), but Denise has managed to develop and maintain a very healthy, hands-off relationship with her handset, using it sparingly to plot journeys, look up recipes, and for small, intentional moments of checking social media. She even regularly goes on dog walks sans headphones, opting to hear the sounds of nature and her four-legged friend rather than listen to a playlist.
Denise told Women’s Health: 'I think it gives you the headspace to think. I really just like to inhale. Just walk. Listen, and not talk, apart to the dog. I like stillness. I actually think about whether that's something to do with having the ability to have laser focus because I was an athlete. It partly could be generational. It could be partly that I'm an only child, I'm quite happy in my own space.’
And while it’s certainly impressive that Denise can happily flit around without wanting her phone right next to her, it does still present some challenges.
She laughed: 'I keep mislaying it. So I usually I'm running around trying to find it, that's why it helps me to have a wearable, like my Google Pixel watch. Then if I need to check an alert or the time I can actually just look down and move on quickly, as opposed to this running around ridiculousness that I do when I am looking for my phone.’
Runtethered will see Denise joined by five guests who have achieved brilliant things through focus and consistency, and she is hoping that listening to their journeys and how being ‘untethered’ from other people’s opinions, previous self-limiting beliefs or cultural nuances will make the pod an inspiring listen for people wanting to wean themselves off their smartphones and get stuck in to a new challenge or routine.
'I'd like to liken it to a sort of couch to five premise,’ she said. ‘But its end goal is just engaging in some activity that you like, where you can be enjoying listening, but feel that you are still free.’
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