For many of us, getting out of the house and exercising is a chore that can fall by the wayside after a busy day at the office.
But that’s not the case for one Greater Manchester man, for whom running has become a complete obsession.
Matthew Melling, 35, from Pemberton has jogged at least five kilometres every single day for over 850 days – and it all started with a New Year’s resolution way back in January 2017.
“I decided that I was going to set myself a new goal at the start of the year and try and run at least 5km every day,” says Matthew, who goes by the name of ‘the Wigan Runner’ when he laces up his trainers.
“I wasn’t what you’d call a natural runner, so the goal of running 31 days in a row to start with? I thought that was impossible.
“But now this has become like a new journey: a new direction in my life. I could never have imagined running for this long, without having a single day off.”
Along the way, Matthew has pounded the pavement in over 20 different countries, including the United States, New Zealand and Ukraine, where he became one of the first people to negotiate the deserted streets of Chernobyl – site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.
“Half the excitement to me is when you’re running somewhere new, somewhere you don’t run every day.
“It keeps you on your toes. You get to explore and run at the same time, and I do like travelling and exploring.”
“I could never have imagined running for this long, without having a single day off.”
Knowing that his efforts have helped fund several good causes also spurs Matthew on, with over £20,000 worth of donations coming in to date.
In July 2017, he successfully raised £2,500 for a new van for Wigan charity Helping the Homeless and last year he took the Wigan Dodgeball Warriors – whom he coaches – to the Dodgeball World Cup in New York.
He also ran the Wigan half marathon in March in aid of We Remember Submariners. In doing so, he crossed the finish line with his 98-year-old great uncle Harry, who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
“Lots of amazing things have come of it. It’s just an amazing journey that I’m very grateful for.
“The support that everyone gives me as well, especially from Wigan. I feel more motivated every day to keep running to try and do more.”
He admits that injuries and illness can sometimes cause him problems, but so far he has refused to be knocked off his stride by any minor niggles.
“I’ve always had problems with my Achilles and my knee, because I’ve not had rest days, but I’ve come to just manage my body the best that I can.
“The mentality that I have is that nothing should stop me.”
Matthew takes every day as it comes and doesn’t like to plan his runs too far ahead, but there is one unusual destination firmly on his mind for the future.
“I’m not even thinking about run number 1,000 yet,” he insists.
“I’ve got to do another 150 runs between now and then – almost the distance from here to London – and if you get too caught up on that number it’s almost like you’ve convinced yourself you’ve already run them.
“I wanted to do the Pyongyang marathon but my only concern is if I do, my streak will most likely end because I probably won’t be able to run the next day.
“But when it does end – and it will one day – North Korea will definitely be on the cards for me next. I do enjoy going places that most people don’t, so that will be on there for sure.”
While 26.2 miles in the secretive Communist state may not be on everyone’s bucket list, does he have any tips for those who might be looking to follow in his footsteps?
“If you want to get into fitness or running, the hardest step is always making the first one,” says the Wigan runner.
“If you’ve not done it before or don’t feel confident that you can do it or you don’t think you’re fast enough, you can talk yourself out of it before you’ve even put your first step out the door.
“Get over that hurdle, and just start running. It doesn’t matter whether you’re fast or slow, or you stop after 10 yards, as long as you make one step.
“And just enjoy it – do it your way and you’ll be happy and it’ll work. If I’ve done it, anyone can.”