THE start of the new year inspires many to put on some Lycra and pound the streets in an effort to lose weight or improve fitness.

Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, mainly because all you need to get started are a pair of trainers or running shoes.

I began running in 2016 after signing up to a half marathon as a personal challenge, and since then I have run three half marathons as well as 10k races. I also joined a social running group, the Cwmbran Pub Runners, which has inspired me to keep on going.

During January it can be difficult to stay motivated. Dark morning and evenings don’t inspire you to go out into the cold and pace the streets in a effort to clock up the miles.

This year I have signed up to Run Every Day (RED) January to stay focussed and avoid spending hours on the sofa.

RED founder, 32-year-old Hannah Beecham, was inspired to start the movement after helping her mum combat depression through physical exercise.

She said: “Witnessing the life-changing effect that a physical challenge can have on someone suffering from depression, inspired me to start a social movement that promotes mental wellbeing through exercise.”

This year RED January have teamed up with the mental health charity Mind to raise awareness about mental health problems by promoting the positive impact that exercise can have on your mind and wellbeing.

Some of those taking part are being sponsored for their efforts and all money raised from the challenge will go to the mental health charity.

Karen Bolton, head of community and events fundraising at Mind, said: “Physical activity can be very beneficial for our mental wellbeing as well as our physical wellbeing, and if you have a mental health problem, the health benefits of getting physically active are even more significant.

“Anyone can join RED January it’s a great opportunity to boost your mental and physical health whilst also raising vital funds to help us make sure that the one in four of us who experience a mental health problem each year gets the support and respect they deserve.”

Andy Baker from Cwmbran is one of the runners who has signed up to the challenge. He is also training for the ABP Newport Wales Marathon and fitting his daily run around work and family life.

He said: “I like running and I wish I had the legs to do more.

“I have been doing runs when I can, fitting in the smaller runs either at the end of the day or between calls at work. Like yesterday I did a run on a break in Merthyr between calls. The plan is to run every day, even if it’s only for five minutes.”

Fitting running around daily life can be a challenge, especially on the cold windy evenings. I have been doing some running before work and some in the evening with distances between half a mile and three miles.

The first few runs were fine, but by day five I can feel the soreness in my muscles.

The theme of mental health is something close to my heart as I have lost friends to suicide which was related to their mental health and seen friends suffer with a range of issues from anxiety to severe depression.

Cllr Fiona Cross from Cwmbran has also been inspired to run every day.

She said: “I love the concept of RED January and mental health is something I think we don’t talk enough about.

“I had mental health issued like feeling low feeling and stress and I’m not ashamed of it. I wish the stigma was removed around it.”

Cllr Cross is a keen runner and a big supporter of the weekly park runs in the region.

She added: “I love running and it’s such a positive way to get rid of negative feeling because you are getting fitter and taking time out for yourself.

“There are so many barriers to getting out of the door but running with friends and creating a support can help you beat those barriers.”

Anyone who would like to start running can join the Easy Pacers group who meet at the Olive Tree in Cwmbran which is a free group aimed at beginners and improvers.

To support Angharad in her fundraising run you can sponsor her and follow her progress by visiting

Find out more about RED January at