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Meet Our Experts

Matt Withey

Can you remember your first ever race?

I can remember my first race very clearly. I was still in primary school, and my race was scheduled to start before my lift could get me to the track. When I got there, my race had already begun. I knew I had quite a distance to catch up, so I started to chase after the other runners.  


It was quite an experience. I saw a few of my classmates on the way around. They were cheering everyone on, and they were quite surprised to see me come past. I managed to do okay. This gave me a bit of a confidence boost and made me want to race more.  


It’s these memories that remind me to keep pushing boundaries. You see runners doing all sorts of incredible challenges. And something inside of me wants to get involved.   

What has running helped you achieve, both mentally and physically?

Running is a great sport. You just need a pair of running shoes. All that’s left is to get outside and do it. There have been many benefits that I've felt in myself. The most obvious one is staying fit and healthy. But also, I run to feel good, and I feel good when I achieve something.  


Or, after you've had a long day at work and you just want to decompress, you can go for a run. More than that, if you have a goal, you gain purpose from the craving to achieve it. Running focuses the mind while helping you in other areas of your life.  

Does team mentality help you achieve more?

It’s great to have a community of people interested in the same thing as you. You can lean on them when you need to and use their expertise to help you to improve. It’s also just nice to have someone to talk to about the thing that excites you.  


Training together always pushes your limits because on your own it's never quite as easy to motivate yourself. If you run alone, it takes an awful lot of discipline to stick to a training plan. If there's someone else waiting for you outside your door, you're much more likely to get it done.   

What motivates you to discover new places?

It's almost too simple to say, but the thing that motivates me is that I haven't seen them yet. One good thing about discovering a new place is it's invigorating to have an experience in a new area and put down new roots. To me, those runs are more fun. There is still value to running your usual route because you can switch off. But there's also a lot of fun in trying a new route, trail and location.  

What gives you the drive to continue completing marathons?

I keep competing because I like to find a different element of challenge in each one. So, whether it's a new course, location, or terrain, I like to throw myself right into it. I think one of the great things about exploring new trails is that you can take other people with you and share that experience.  

Do you believe going outdoors makes you happier?

I believe going outdoors makes a person happier. There have been many times when I've been feeling a bit stressed, and I've managed to get out for a run. After my run, I’d realise I was actually quite stressed. Running allows you to gain perspective and gives you space to think about everything that's going on. It just takes you away from that situation for a bit. 

Why do you think it’s important for people to be together outside?

There are a lot of benefits to being outside and enjoying the outdoors together. When exploring a local area, there's been many times where I've thought I know where I'm going, but a friend has got a different route and it turns out there's this amazing trail that I've not been on before. So, it's key to get out amongst it with others.  

What advice would you give others to shop more consciously in-store?

It's important that we work together to protect the places we love to visit. We need to maintain them so that they can be enjoyed by others and those who are there after us. When it comes to shopping, try to choose products that you need, rather than want. You can also select products that are more sustainable. The Our Planet range in-store is ideal for that.  

What do you look for when you buy your outdoor kit?

So, when it comes to kit, being comfy is right up there. If you're doing a longer event, you need to be comfortable, or you’ll know about it by the end. That's especially true for footwear and backpacks, or kit you’ll be taking on longer runs. 


Another important point to remember is choosing quality. If you’re planning to be a long way from home or out of phone signal, you don't want your kit to let you down. That might stop you from finishing what you set out to do. As well as reliability, you want your kit to be functional and performance driven. 

Tell us about your favourite brands or products. Why are they your favourites? 

There are a few brands I really lean on heavily for their amazingly comfortable long-distance shoes. I've had three versions of the Altra shoe, including the Mount Blanc. I’m also all over their clothing for how lightweight and fitted it is. 


My favourite piece of kit is my running pack. It’s an Osprey Duro 6. I use this for pretty much every long run, race or event I do. You can adjust it to your body shape so it's comfortable and doesn't bounce on your back as a normal backpack would. It’s really helped me stay fuelled and hydrated on longer trips. You don't have to stop necessarily to get these things because all the useful pouches and pockets are right at your fingertips.  

How do in-store appointments help customers find the right kit?

Our in-store appointments are brilliant if you’re looking for kit but need some help choosing. You can book any appointment type in-store. They're all designed to explore your needs for a certain activity. It's a fantastic way to really get some time in with one of our experts. You can talk to us about your needs, and we can explore your options. If you know exactly what you want, then we’ll find you the best piece of kit for what you have in mind.  

If you could give some advice to any runner this year looking to achieve a goal, what would it be?

Plan. Decide what you want to do, pick what your buildup events might be and plan your training around those. Then just go all in and enjoy it. Try to make the best of the opportunities at each stage. 

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