It is easy to see why Up & Running – Sheen’s speciality shop for those who want to get a move on – is such a runaway success.
For example, not only has Ricky done a course in Biomechanics at Roehampton University, but he is a coach at a local running club in his spare time. Most important of all, he has done a lot of running himself over the past 30 years, culminating in 40 half-marathons in 2011 for charity, and in places as diverse as Marrakesh in Morocco to Tromso in the Arctic Circle.
So if you decide it’s time to switch off the TV and go outdoors and get fit, Ricky and his staff are the people to go and see.
“Running is a very popular pastime in this area,” says Ricky. “And no wonder because we have Richmond Park on our doorstep which is a perfect place to start, and there are many running clubs locally to choose from like the Sheen Shufflers and the Thames Hare and Hounds, the oldest cross-country running club in the world.”
He says the first step is to make sure you buy the right pair of shoes. And with so many on offer – there are over 120 different models available in Up & Running ranging in price from £60 to £140 – it’s crucial to get good advice.
“We offer customers a full fitting service which can last from 30 to 40 minutes at no extra charge,” says Ricky. “This includes running on our treadmill which has a camera attached so we can study the client’s gait and then advise on the correct pair of shoes.
“Everyone runs differently so this analysis is essential. Once fitted with new shoes we even encourage people to take a run in the street outside to make sure they feel right. With so many shoes and style on offer, I always say if you come here to get fitted the right shoe usually finds you.”
He adds: ”If you are a new runner just starting out, it’s important to have your gait re-assessed regularly because it changes over time as your muscles get stronger and you build-up your core strength.”
Ricky estimates that a pair of running shoes will last for about 500-600 miles and he recommends buying a new pair every 12 months.
To help runners, the shop offers free advice on stretching exercises which are important to do after training, core stability exercises, as well as a six week training schedule which gets beginners up to 5 kilometres entitled “Zero to Hero.”
Advances in technology have also brought big changes to running. Ten years ago a new pair of shoes usually caused blisters and blood until they were worn in. New shoes now fit like a glove, are much lighter and more breathable.
Running clothes are made out of new materials and make exercise much more comfortable – the days of sweat-stained cotton t-shirts have long gone. Socks have also undergone a technological make-over, moulding to the foot and even offering blister-free running.
As well, the shop stocks a range of running watches which monitor speed and distance, heart rates, location using GPS, and even remind you when your next training run is due!
A GB Age Group triathlete, she offers sports massage therapy costing £26 for a 30-minute session. “It gets rid of knots in muscles and can really help,” she promises.
Up & Running, 184 Upper Richmond Rd West, SW14 8AN
Words by Mark Dowdney – Pictures by Bob Lisney & Justin Ward Photography – Project Coordinator Richard Osborne