Get Running Q&A

Running coach Mary Jennings helps you to go the distance

Mary Jennings and Joyce Hickey Mon, Mar 2
LIVE: Get Running Q&A

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  • 16:54
    Mary Jennings: Welcome to our final Get Running Q&A for this course. I wonder how many of you had a run in the snow this weekend? We would love to hear about it.
    It's a big weeks for the runners who started our beginners' Get Running programme in mid-January. Eight weeks ago they started out running for 1 minute. This weekend they wil run their first 30-minute run non-stop. This is a huge achievement and I really want to wish them all the very best for this run and congratulate them on the effort they have put in so far. All their hard work will pay off this weekend.
    For the next hour I'm happy to answer any running questions from our Get Running students, but also from any of you considering taking up running, making a comeback or who just have a general query about your training. Send in your comments and questions and I'll do my very best to answer them all by 6pm
  • 17:02
    Michelle Hi Mary. I'm hoping to start running this month. Is it necessary to wear a special bra for running?
  • 17:05

    Mary: I would highly recommend you wear a high-impact sports bra for running. Try a few on and see which are comfortable yet supportive for you. You can get a good selection to try in a running shop or sports shop. Many high-street stores also have them. My favourites are the brand Moving Comfort and Shock Absorber. I have also got good ones for me in M&S. Dont take my word for it, though: everyone is different and what suits one person may not be comfortable for someone else. Try them on and literally jump up and down in the changing room. Your chest should move with your body, not move independently when wearing the bra. Most importantly, make sure that the bra says 'high impact', not one advertised for yoga or Pilates.
    I always suggest not to buy white either:  as you wash them so much, they tend to lose colour quickly and they are reasonably pricey so invest in a nice bright colour that will look better for longer. Hope that helps. Best of luck with starting running.

  • 17:13
    Marcus Hi Mary. During and after running, I feel tight in my shoulders and upper back. Am I doing something wrong?
  • 17:16
    Mary: It's quite common for people to feel tightness in this area. It would be interesting to know if you are spending your day sitting or driving? So many of us spend our days like this and as soon as we go running we magnify it all the more. If you can do some chest-opening stretches that will take a little bit of pressure off the back. Also be mindful of running posture. This doesn't mean holding your shoulders tight (which many of us do when told to stand tall). In fact, you can see from our videos, we want to keep the spine tall, but the shoulders and arms relaxed.
    Also notice your hands when you are running. If your fists are clenched this will tighten higher up too, so consciously shake out the hands along your run. If you are holding something in your hand, switch hands along the run so you are not tightening one side. In your next run set a timer to beep every five mins and when it goes off, notice are you holding your shoulders and back, are you clenching your fists and maybe are you holder your arms quite high. You can see in the arms video that the arms should be no higher than waist height. Use the five-minute reminders to notice how you are moving and where you might be holding tension. This works great for so many runners.
    In fact, notice now, while you are sitting if you are doing it - if you are -then it's very likely you are when running too! Best of luck.
  • 17:16
    Dan Is it worth using lucozade sport instead of water when training for a marathon?
  • 17:19

    Mary: Training for a marathon will require most of us to get more fuel into our system than just water. Lucozade Sport is just one source of energy. There are lots of options available from gels to drinks to bars to natural alternatives such as bananas, dried fruit and homemade snacks and bars. I would suggest you experiment with different options as many stomachs are sensitive to the drinks and gels. Use each long run as an experiment to see what works (and doesn't work) for you. By the end of your training you will know what works best for your stomach and your energy. Best of luck.  

  • 17:21
    <p>Running is pants: Participants in the 'Half-Naked Marathon' at a park in Beijing yesterday Hundreds of runners joined this annual event, which required them to run half-naked as a way to promote environmentally friendly lifestyles. Photograph:  Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters</p>

    Running is pants: Participants in the "Half-Naked Marathon" at a park in Beijing yesterday Hundreds of runners joined this annual event, which required them to run half-naked as a way to promote environmentally friendly lifestyles. Photograph:  Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

  • 17:23
    Michael hi, I'm back running 5k thanks to your program, however I have suffered lately with plantar fasciitis, any tips on how I can overcome it?
  • 17:26

    Mary:  If you are feeling pain from PF, I would suggest first of all you rest and don't cause yourself any more damage. Check whether your running shoes need replacing or speak to your local physical therapist or physiotherapist, who should be able to loosen out any tightness in your body that might be contributing to the injury. Take the time to work out what might be causing the problem: maybe the structure in the foot (or higher up the body) is putting pressure on the heels or soles of your feet.

    You could try the tennis-ball foot massages, which give people a lot of relief as you massage the sole of the foot. I am not a phyisotherapist, but from working with runners who suffer from plantar fasciitis, we have seen lots of success in getting people to think about technique. Using more of the core muscles and upper body when moving rather than driving hard with the lower legs and feet has been a new experience for many runners. Trying to walk or run with relaxed lower legs is going to put less tension and stress on the backs of the legs and lower down into the feet. Check out our training tips this week in the videos for Week 7.
    I know how frustrated you must be feeling when the rest of your body would love to be running. Try it walking first, and then when you feel more confident, give the running a shot. When you do start back running, start out with a one-minute run, one-minute walk routine, and be sure to stop and stretch the lower legs along the route. Best of luck.  

  • 17:27
    Anne Marie Hi Mary I had a sports massage on Friday. I went for a run last night and my muscles felt v tight. Almost like they were being stretched like an elastic band. They did loosen after a while but still felt quite tight. Is this normal ?
  • 17:29

    Mary: I would suggest you give your sports massage therapist a call and just ask them them directly. It's hard to say without knowing what work they did with you. It is normal to feel the massage for a couple of days afterwards, depending on the intensity, but overall it should loosen the body rather than tighten it. Try a nice hot bath with Epsom salts tonight and see whether that loosens you out. Fingers crossed it will.

  • 17:32
    stephen Is there anything you recommend to eat before a run, especially for the morning (not in the mood for pasta then :))
  • 17:33
    Mary:  Personally, I wouldn't eat much if I was going for a run of anything less than an hour in the morning. Some people like to have porridge or a banana, but you would need to give your body a little time to digest this. If you have eaten sensibly and hydrated well the day before, you might be fine running on empty in the morning, depending on the intensity of your run. Experiment with porridge, bananas, juice, a slice of bread or toast and see what works for you. Allow time for the food to digest.  
  • 17:37
    <table border='0'>
<td class='newstext' colspan='2' align='left'>Cool runnings: A morning <span style='color: #000000;'>runner</span> crosses Central Park in New York. Photograph: Karsten Moran/The New York Times</td>
    Cool runnings: A morning runner crosses Central Park in New York. Photograph: Karsten Moran/The New York Times
  • 17:39
    James: Hi Mary. I’m doing my first half marathon on March 15th. Do you have any tips on taper policy in the lead-up? I’m doing about 25 miles a week over four nights up to now. My longest run is usually 12 miles on Sundays.
  • 17:41
    Mary: Hi James. With two weeks to your half marathon, I would suggest you start the taper now. This weekend, run no more than 10k. You can run it at the pace you plan to run your half marathon.   Pulling back on the distance this weekend will mean your legs will be fresher for race day the following weekend. Personall, I would also pull back speed on any midweek runs too.
    Work out what you will wear for your race day and use the extra time you will have now to get your head in the right place: come up with your strategy, the pace you will start off at, what you will eat or drink along the way, and look at route maps, hill incline and location of water stations. The hard work is done now, the best thing you can do is to ease back and let the body taper so it is in good shape on the 15th. Best of luck!  
  • 17:43

    Cian: An MRI shows I have Chondromalacia Patella, which gives me clicky and sore knees. I stretch my quads and IT band before running, and avoid running on the road where possible. Is there anything else I can do to improve things?

  • 17:45

    Mary: I would suggest you check in with your local physio and follow the exercises and stretches they prescribe. I wonder whether you have considered looking at your technique? If you are landing heavily on the ground, you will no doubt feel it up along your knees. Certainly, keep up your stetching routine but take a look at my videos on the online programmes where I show you how to use less of your legs when running, and more of the core andupper body to take the pressure off them.
    I know it's not a quick solution, but take a look and you might be surprised. Indeed avoid the hard surfaces when running, as you suggest, and make sure your runners are good too. I wish you the very best of luck.  

  • 17:47
    James Thanks Mary, will take the advice on board. Think the body is about right-just have to get the head sorted now .Many thanks.
  • 17:49
    Deirdre Do you know any upcoming 5ks in Leinster? It will be my first 5k and I would like to do one where I am not miles behind all the other runners. Thank you.
  • 17:51

    Mary: Hi Deirdre, it's great to hear you are thinking of running your first 5k. There are lots of charity 5ks all around the country. My favourite, however, is the volunteer-based This initiative has more than 20 of the 5k parkruns all around Ireland every Saturday morning at 9.30am. It is free, and it is a very welcoming atmosphere.
    In terms of pacing, running 35-40 minutes for your parkrun would be similar to the pace of many parkrunners. People walk these events too. (And you'll see a lot of galloping children, buggies and dogs along the way.)
    If you are consious of your time, check out the results on the and see which venues have runners and walkers with similar times to you. The reason i really like parkrun is that you can run it regularly and it's a great way to see your improvements over time. Give it a go, and be sure to drop us an email to let us know how it goes. If you cannot find one near you, the Athletics Ireland website has a good listing of upcoming events too.  

  • 17:56
    Denis Hi Mary, on a race day, how soon before the race should i be at the venue? Is it better do my stretching at the start line or would it be better to walk the last mile to the start line as a warmup? Thanks for all the advice during the 8 weeks
  • 17:58

    Mary: I would suggest that it's best to avoid any anxiety on race morning by being in a panic rushing to the start line. If it is one of your first few races, give yourself plenty of time to get to the start. Normally there will be toilets there and you can take in the atmosphere of the race day too.
    If it is a very big race, allow an hour, but most smaller races would be fine at 30 minutes. Generally, car parking can be the biggest issue. Certainly, I recommend the warmup, but it's best to be able to do this stressfree than trying to time it from the car. Wishing you the very best of luck in your race.

  • 17:59
    Roisin Hi Mary, aged 54, started couch to 5k 5 weeks ago, never having run or jogged before. One knee really feeling it. Any tips on how to protect it? Many thanks!
  • 18:03

    Mary: If you are having pain running with one knee, I would suggest you give the running a little break and move back to the walking for a bit. If the rest makes a difference, start back again and do so gradually and notice whether the pain comes on. Be sure to follow all our technique tips which will help reduce pressure on the knee. Check your running shoes to see if you need a new pair, and also try to avoid roads and run on softer surfaces if you can for a bit.
    Most importantly, don't run through pain. If the pain continues, please contact a local physio or sports therapist who will be able to look at your running and any imbalances in the body. Best of luck.

  • 18:05
    David Hi Mary. I would love to run a marathon. I can run 10k and have been running for three years now, on and off. Is it realistic for me to be looking at the Dublin Marathon in October?
  • 18:08

    Mary:  Hi David. I generally recommend someone to be running painfree for more than two years at 10k distance before considering a marathon. You seem to meet that criteria, so the next thing I would say to you is to move up to a half marathon this spring/summer and see how that feels. If you were to aim for a May/June half marathon 12 weeks from now, you would see the impact of longer distance on the body, and if all went well, you would have the month of June then to pull back a little on distance. And then, if you are still tempted, you have 16 weeks from July 1st to build up for a marathon. This is all quite realistic for you once all goes to plan with your training.
    The one thing I would say is not to overlook the importance of enjoying the half marathon and the training for that. You will learn a lot about your body as you build up to 21km, and any niggles you might have in that process will only be magnified when you train for a marathon. Get into a good routine this spring of minding your body and training sensibly so you can have fresh legs and good half-marathon memories for when you kick off Dublin marathon training in July.  

  • 18:10

    Mary Jennings: That's it for this week and for this series of Get Running. Thank you to everyone for all your questions and feedback over the past eight weeks. I really wish you all the very best with your running this year, and I hope to see many of you out and about over the coming months.
    You can still join any of our Get Running programmes at any time and we will email you every week for eight weeks with your homework, videos and training plans. That's one less excuse you have now!
    Remember, run tall and smile, especially when you least feel like it: that's when you will most benefit. Thanks, everyone. Happy running!