Three people running together in an urban area with the words: Together We RUN

Meet Our Kit Specialist

Matt Withey

Our in-store specialist, Matt, has always had a hunger to challenge himself. Several ultra marathons later, he's still pushing boundaries. Whatever the distance, terrain or condition, he knows exactly what kit he needs to reach his end goal. We sat down with Matt to talk more about the benefits of running with others, his curiosity to explore new routes and his advice on running when the seasons start to shift.  

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's 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.  

Who do you like to run with and how has training with coaches helped you to help others?

I like to run with friends the most. It’s a great way to catch up but also explore the local area while doing something that benefits your health. I've learned that it's important to run with others who are at a similar level, if not a little better than your current fitness level, particularly if you're aiming to complete a certain event or want to achieve a time running a set distance. 

Do you think a team mentality helps 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.  


If you run alone, it takes an awful lot of discipline to stick to a training plan, but if there's someone else waiting for you outside your door, you're much more likely to get it done. Plus, training for something together encourages you to clock those extra miles.   

A collage of people running together in the city

What gives you the drive to continue competing in 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.  

What's been your best moment competing with others?

My most special event is the Cotswold Way Century, all 104 miles of the Cotswold Way. It took 26 hours to finish and was a real journey right from the first weeks of training until the end. As you continue through the event you get talking to more and more people, from volunteers to competitors. It’s a really encouraging, supportive community. I still have friends on Strava from around the UK who I met at the event.


These kinds of events really bring home how the mentality of a person is more powerful than being naturally good at running. It’s inspiring to see each person cross the finish line and achieve something they'd have had doubts they could even do.

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. 

A collage of people running together in the city

What's the best bit about running together?

When I run with others I find it more enjoyable as you’re not alone in your pursuit. You can encourage each other along the way before sharing that sense of achievement when its done. If it’s a longer run, I find the time goes quicker with others there to motivate you, and it can bring out the competitive streak too – if they can do this, then so can I.

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

It's so important 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. 

What's your favourite piece of kit and why? 

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. 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.  

What are your top tips for transitioning from Summer to Autumn running?

The main point here is that as the nights draw in, you may still be able to see well but others will struggle to see you. You might want to adjust the time of day you run or invest in some high visibility clothing or lighting. The conditions are likely to be more changeable so it’s worth being prepared for more eventualities on race days. Or if you’re training after work, be sure to check the weather forecast before so you can plan accordingly. It’s more likely to be muddy so your footwear's going to need more grip. Trail shoes are an excellent choice if you’re not running on the roads.

What's your must-have kit for running during changing seasons?

  1. HOKA Men’s Speedgoat 5 Trail Shoes: A lightweight shoe with impressive grip that are also incredibly comfy to run in.
  2. Inov-8 Men’s Stormshell JacketA nice, lightweight running jacket that packs down to a very small size.
  3. adidas Men’s Own The Run Quarter Zip Long Sleeve Top: A long sleeve top for cooling temperatures with thumb holes and also a zip to allow ventilation when on the move.
  4. Body Glide Standard 42gAnti-chafe balm is important if you’ll be getting wet!
  5. Ronhill Unisex Afterhours Gloves: It’s a good idea to have a lightweight pair of gloves with reflective features so you're more visible to cars, cyclists and pedestrians.
  6. Lastly, remember to protect your running shoes against damage from water, mud, stains and more. Our Footwear Protection Service utilises cutting-edge technology to safeguard your shoes, keeping them at their best for longer.

Thanks for speaking with us, Matt! If you’ve been inspired to set yourself a new running goal, book an in-store appointment with one of our specialists today for advice on the best kit to get you there.  

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