Get Running

Forget the Gym running coach Mary Jennings and Olympic physio Aidan Woods answer your questions live

Mary Jennings, Aidan Woods Mon, Jan 27
LIVE: Get Running

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  • 20:42
    Welcome to tonight's Q&A for the Get Running course. Answering your questions tonight will be Mary Jennings, the ForgetTheGym and Get Running coach, and Aidan Woods, a chartered physio who amongst his many sporting achievements works with the Irish Olympic teams, winter and summer. We'll be kicking off shortly but in the meantime feel free to post a question in the comments.
  • 21:01
    Carol : Can you repeat the stretches as I don't think I am doing the third one correctly but can't find it on the website now. Great programme. I am so proud to have started running.

    Mary : Fair play Carol for getting this far into the programme, indeed you should be proud of yourself. In terms of the stretches, on the main get running page, if you scroll down to Week 1 Video 3 –the stretches are there, you can repeat that video as you need it. Also, in the coming weeks we will add some more stretches and distribute a reminder sheet of all the stretches too that you can have in your pocket for after your run. Keep it up now!
  • 21:05

    Colette : Just wondering about my stride and if I should be conscious of the way I run, i.e. I think I'm running from the knees down as opposed to a full stride of the legs? Is this a problem with creating bad running habits?

    Mary : Hi Colette, in the coming weeks, I will address some of the Chirunning principles which will help you with technique. For now, if you can think about what we have covered so far in the videos – being tall, and relaxed, the rest will come. We will be looking to move the effort up the body and away from the lower legs in the coming weeks, but for now, if you are pain free with the running, just think of being nice and relaxed, focus on the minutes and your breath, and the stride length can be looked at after. The most important thing for now is that you are enjoying it, are painfree and running relaxed. Hope that helps.  

  • 21:06

    Anonymous : Many thanks for this programme. Today (Friday )I'm heading out for third run this week. Feeling great when I complete the challenge but is there anything we should be doing re exercises on rest days as I won't be running again 'til Monday?

    Mary : You are doing great just as you are. So many people tend to do too much too soon and burn themselves out. If you can stick with the programme and fit in those 3 days, you are doing great.  

    Head out for a brisk walk on other days if you like too. In terms of exercises, if you are keen to do something to complement the running pilates and yoga are great, but honestly, start out with the running now, stick with the 3 runs, and as the weeks go on, you will see how the body adapts and will talk more about exericses then. Well done

  • 21:09

    Claire : No question - just a bit of encouragement: Was out this evening in middle of one of my 4 minutes and a walker I passed said 'good on you'. Have to say it was great encouragement to stay going.  

    Mary : Claire, I had to smile when I read your message – that’s great, it really does pick you up doesn’t it when someone says something like that to you. Remember only a few weeks ago you were the walker and someone else was the runner. Good on you. Keep it up now, and remember that person in your head whenever the voices in your head are telling you to stop. Keep positive and keep on running..  

  • 21:11

    I have done all the runs so far but keep finding that my calves get really sore, almost sizing up, when i am about halfway through the run. The walking gets rid of it but then it starts up again when I start running again. Anything I can do to get rid of this? Kat

    Aidan: Hi Kat, the calves are the muscle that are used most when running. For this reason it is very common for them to get tired and sore. There are several ways to decrease calf muscle soreness. The most common one is   it to try to run as slowly as possible so that the muscles are working less hard. If you are walking pain free then try to run at a pace that is just slightly faster than this. If this doesn’t work and you are still getting sore then return to walking. Periodically test out your calves with a very slow jog interspersed with stretching to see if this works for you.  

  • 21:13

    Aly: Is it ok to use the training to get to my Monday night pilates class or would that be too much off the programme my other runs are Friday and Sunday?

    Mary : Hi Aly, it’s great you are getting in the 3 sessions. That’s the main thing. Ideally the more spread out in the week they are the better, but if this is your only option of getting out there, then go for it. If you are finding your legs v tired on the Monday it may be because of the 3 sessions being close together, and in that case you may need to revisit. Also as the weeks get longer with running minutes, this may be harder to maintain, but take it week by week and listen to your body. Best of luck with this week.

  • 21:15

    Lorna : I'm asthmatic, and a bit overweight, last week I found it hard with my breathing, I did good today, for the first time I've found a nice slow pace and concentrated well on my breathing. Can you suggest any breathing exercises that would help?

    Mary : Lorna, well done, that’s great that you found the perfect pace and managed to focus on the breathing. If I’m to be honest I think that is sufficient for you for now, if you can keep your comfortable pace, and stay focused on your breath as the weeks go on, that will help the running remain comfortable. Keep up what you are doing, now you have the pace right, it will get easier.  

  • 21:18

    Eilis : HI, I am 14 weeks pregnant is it ok to start running now or should I wait until after the baby is born?

    Mary : Hi Eilis, many congrats on your good news. With regard to running, and any form of exercise, my advise would be not to start anything new while pregnant. A lot of the running research would suggest that its ok to continue with what you were doing if you were already doing it prior to pregnancy, but to try something new like running at this stage of pregnancy I probably would not recommend. To be honest, the best thing would be to ask your doctor and see what he/she advises.  

    Keeping fit and healthy in pregnancy is totally recommended, it may just be a choice of a different form of exercise. See what the doctor has to say.

  • 21:20

    Hi I was doing great on the training plan and also doing a bootcamp 3 times a week. However my achilles heel has been sore for a while and now at the stage where its too sore to run. Im so disappointed as it was really lifting my mood (I have depression). What can I do to heal it as quickly as I can, I don't think its ruptured just inflamed. Thanks. Sharon

    Aidan: Hi Sharon, there are several very good ways to decrease inflammation in an achilles tendon. Elevation of the injured leg for example lying down on a sofa with your foot on a cushion for 10 mins will help. Wrapping some ice in a damp towel and placing it on the inflamed area for 5 minutes 3 times daily is also very effective. It is worth taking a trip to your local pharmacy and discussing with them what anti-inflammatory medication or gel they recommend using on achilles tendons. Overall, I think the most important thing for you is that you keep up some form of painfree physical activity that is not going to make your achilles tendon worse. The best person to advise you on what form of physical activity would be best for your injury is your local Chartered Physiotherapist.  

  • 21:22

    Lizzie : Since having children I am finding it very difficult to run - my pelvic floor is obviously very weak and my bladder control is terrible if I run. It is very frustrating and embarrassing - what therapy will help ASAP.... As well as obvious pelvis floor exercises. Should I go see someone who could help and who??? I really want to be able to run but this is making me want to stop!!!! I am not overweight and have a good diet -I just can't run without leaking!!!  

    Mary: I’m so glad you raised this question. First of all, you are not alone, there are so many women out there with the same issue, you can be fit enough to run a marathon but if your pelvic floor is letting you down, it makes running uncomfortable, anxious and embarrassing indeed. A lot of the mum forums out there have people's experience of exercises, tips and even surgery for this. I know people who have gone with each of these options, but they all come down to one initial thing – doing the pelvic floor exericses (Kegals) religiously. In addition to that, other people promote Pilates as this also works in the pelvic area. Tips wise, practical things like wearing pads, and dark bottoms, long tshirts and running in an area you know there is a loo you can run to may make you feel more comfortable. One of our girls swears by avoiding hot drinks 4 hours before running. I would recommend avoiding caffeine too. Maybe even doing a short lap from your house so that you can nip in home if you need to may make you feel more relaxed indeed about it. I’m sorry I don’t have a perfect answer for this. If I did, I’d be a millionaire. Keep doing what you can!  

  • 21:24

    Galina : Hi i start today my second week of running, big surprise that I did the whole exercise but I keep getting stitches in my side , sometimes at the start or during the jog. Is it normal to get these? This is my first time jogging but I think I am doing ok

    Mary : Well done Galina, Great you got started. Stitches are quite common indeed in beginners, they can originate from a few things, but in general, try these few tips and see if they make a difference.  

    1. Avoid eating and drinking before you go running, 2, Run tall and focus on the running posture. 3. Try and relax and breathe deeply. I do find that many beginners get stitches but this tends to fizzle out over a few weeks. So try the posture and eating tips and focus on your breath bringing oxygen to the area where you feel the stitch and see how that helps.  

  • 21:27

    Niamh: What happens if you miss one of your running days in the week? Should you try to make it up or move on to the next week's training?  

    Mary: We will all hit a week whereby we miss a session, its not the end of the world, the trick is not to miss 2 sessions as its much harder then to get back on track. If you miss a session, you may be able to get away with it - depending on your current fitness level. I would suggest you finish out the week as planned, if it feels totally fine, continue as normal. If however you skip a session and try the next one and struggle, id suggest you take a step back and repeat the missed session and stay a few sessions behind the programme. There is no pressure to complete this in the 8 weeks, you can spread it out longer if you wish. Listen to your body.  

  • 21:28

    I'm 62. Got dodgy knees and hips. And a left hamstring that acts up occasionally. Should I be trying this ? (I play golf; do lots of stretching beforehand and generally not in real bad shape) Gerry McCarthy

    Aidan: Hi Gerry, the most important thing here is that you keep your dodgy knees, hips and hamstring healthy so that you can continue playing your golf and doing your stretches. If you are thinking of taking up running then make sure that your hips, knees and hamstring remain pain free while you are running. If they do get sore then stop running and walk until they are pain free.  

  • 21:29

    Carol: What is the recommended weekly frequency and training time for total beginner with aim to be able to jog/run 10k in July 14??? Many thanks C

    Mary: Carol, I think its important you focus on getting to the 30 minutes as a beginner now, and recognise what a big deal it will be to hit the 30 minutes. Once you have celebrated that milestone, then start worrying about distances of 10k. Once you know you can run for 30 minutes, enjoy it, be injury free, and take part in a couple of 5ks, then think of 10k. But all things going well, if you finish the programme and wish to move up to 10k, the frequency is similar 3 times per week, maybe one more, and in terms of training time, you will have 1 longer run per week, but all the rest are similar time as a 5k programme. One step at a time...

  • 21:33

    General: I have not received the emails even though I have registered.

    Mary: The emails have been sent to everyone who is registered. I would recommend you check in your spam or junk mail box, as some people have found them in there. For Gmail users they may go into the Promotions folder – it's a tab along the top of your mailbox. If you cannot see them anywhere, all the videos tips and homework are up on the Get Running page, so you won't miss out on anything. If you are still stuck contact  

  • 21:36

    Mai:Hi guys, I was unwell this week and advised by my GP not to engage in physical exercise- which meant I only did the first run. Am I alright to pick up with the week 3 homework or should I modify it?

    Mary: See how the body feels Mai, try out the first session of week 3. if that feels ok stick with the week 3 programme. If you do find it tough, you can always go back and do week 2 again and take it from there. Its really up to you. If you were struggling before you got sick, then go with week 2, if however you ok and felt good, then move on with week 3 and see how you go..

  • 21:38

    Lulu: Enjoying the course so far, but having a bit of a problem with my left knee, seems like a bit of muscular pain, nothing serious. Can you recommend some exercises?

    Aidan: Hi Lulu, the main muscles around the knee are the quadriceps at the front, hamstrings at the back and the calf muscle which runs from the back of the knee down to the ankle. If you are experiencing muscular pain in the knee then stretching these muscles will help.  

  • 21:41

    Clare: I've previously suffered from plantar fasciitis. Any advice on how to avoid this reoccurring?

    Aidan: Hi Clare, the exercises that people generally find best for helping with plantar fasciitis are exercises that encourage the toes to move and the small muscles in the foot to work. One simple exercise that people find beneficial is scrunching up their toes while their feet are on the ground 10 times pain free. This can be repeated several times throughout the day.  

  • 21:44

    James: Hi, I have bad feet and need orthotics for my shoes to stop pain building up-even at a gentle walk. Since getting them, I am much better. I had been afraid I had artharitis at the age of 32! I have started this program but the pains are just as bad now-like shin splints but at the bottom of my shin, not running up along it. Another set of orthotics is €400 +, is there anything else you could suggest?

    Aidan: Hi James, before continuing with the running programme it would be worth returning to the place where you bought the orthotics to check they are suitable for running and to make sure that they are still fitting you and supporting your feet correctly. The person who gave you the orthotics should be able to advise you on this.    

  • 21:48

    Lisa: When I run my hips and upper inside leg/groin get really stiff and sore afterwards. Which stretches would you recommend for this. Sometimes my hips feel they need to click.

    Aidan: Hi Lisa, the main muscle in your groin is your hip adductor muscle, other muscles that may be worth stretching in the hip region are your hip flexors, gluteal muscles and quadriceps muscles.

  • 21:49

    Robbie: Good or bad idea to start jogging when in mid sixties in order to lose weight?

    Mary: Robbie, if you are reasonably fit and healthy, and can currently do a brisk 30 minutes walk, then starting with the running is certainly an option for you. It might be best to check in with your doctor and get their opinion. We have plenty of people 60+ on this programme, so age certainly not a limiting factor.    

  • 21:51

    Kathleen : My heals are very sore now when i run , is this normal? what can i do to make it easier to run comfortably?

    Aidan: Hi Kathleen, it is normal to experience some soreness when starting a new exercise programme for the first time, however this should subside within 24 hours of completing the exercise. If you are exercising and the pain is not going away then it is worth going to your local Chartered Physiotherapist for an assessment and recommendations.  

  • 21:54

    Laura: Hi Mary, just wondering if its important to incorporate hills into your run?

    Mary: Laura, don't worry too much about hills for now. Nice and flat to start with - be nice to yourself. Plenty of time to incorporate hill training when you are up to 30 minutes running.  

  • 21:55

    Michelle:Hi guys. Any cure for shin splits?

    Aidan: Hi Michelle, there are several things to consider if your shins are getting sore such as have you warmed up correctly, are you wearing a suitable pair of runners, are you running on the correct surface for you, if you are running on the road is there a camber on the road which is putting more stress on one leg, is there a safe grassy area locally to run on, are you running too fast?

  • 21:57

    Siobhan: Should the cool down walk at the end be at a different pace from the walks that alternate with the jogs?

    Mary: Siobhan, the cooldown walk should be at a pace that brings your heartrate back down to normal, so nice and comfortable. The walks between runs don't need to be at a fast pace, just a pace that allows you to recover and get ready for the next one. Hope that helps.  

  • 21:59

    John: I go for a run in the mornings before college as it's a great way to start the day. I find that I am usually hungry before bedtime but I know many people say we should not eat late at night. However, I have found that if I eat something (I don't mean a big meal, just something light) then my run goes much better the next morning compared to the mornings when I wake up still feeling hungry. Any advice/recommendations on healthy snacks to eat at night so I have energy for my run the next morning?  

    Mary: John, thats great you are a morning runner - I always think anyone who can go for a run first thing has such an advantage on the day! In terms of the food, if it works for you to have the snack before bed then stick with it. I would say experiment with a few things and see what works for you - you could try a slice of brown toast/peanut butter , or some oatcakes, or even a yogurt or fruit or nuts. But it is a very personal thing. Some people cannot sleep after certain food, so try out a few things and see what works best for you. Even include it in your training diary, and you can track back which runs felt better/worse and it might help.

  • 22:01

    Deirdre:  Hi Mary. Can you advise regarding Shin Splints. My husband has started the Walk 3 mins, Jog 1 Min every evening but has got shin splints. Do these have to be massaged out by a physiotherapist?

    Aidan:  Hi Deirdre, massage is a very good way of helping tired  legs recover from training so an assessment and treatment from a Chartered Physiotherapist would be beneficial for your husband. Other ways of helping tired legs to recover are rest, sleep and  a healthy diet.  

  • 22:04
    That's it for tonight. Thanks for all the questions and sorry we couldn't answer everyone. We'll back again next week to help with more of them.