Get Running

Guest for the Q&A are coach Mary Jennings and physios Aidan Woods and Bláithín Brady

Mary Jennings, Aidan Woods, Bláithín Brady Mon, Mar 10
LIVE: Get Running

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  • 13:02
    Welcome to the Get Running Live Q&A this Monday lunchtime. It's a beautiful bright day in Dublin - perfect for running - and hopefully lots of you are getting ready for the graduation event at your local parkrun this Saturday morning. Answering your questions and giving advice today are coach Mary Jennings and chartered physiotherapists Aidan Woods and Blaithin Brady
  • 13:08
    Mary: Well done to everyone who ran their first 30 minutes at the weekend. Great to hear all the lovely success stories over the last few weeks.

    I know many of you are keen now to try out a 5k event in your area.
    Taking part in your first 5k can be a little scary, so this week I have put together some hints and tips that will help you on the day.

    Don't forget we will be out at parkrun this Saturday. Its such a great initiative for beginners and improvers alike. Check out the list of parkruns out there, and if you cant find one locally keep your eye out for a St Patricks Day funrun..
  • 13:11

    Be Prepared – Pack the night before

    Make a list of everything you need to bring, and set out everything you need the night before race.

    Avoid any last minute panics by being prepared, so you don’t have to think on race morning.

    Here is a quick list of essentials but your list might be different

    - Running Shoes

    - Socks

    - Sports Bra

    - Underwear

    - Watch

    - Sun Cream

    - Change of Clothes for After

    - 20 euro to carry in case of emergency

    - Mobile Phone

    - Inhaler (if required)

                                  - Hair clips etc

    - IPod (charged up)

    - Hat (optional)

    - Water bottle

    - parkrun barcode (pre-register online)

  • 13:12

    Dress for the Occasion

    Wear whatever clothes you would normally wear when running. Don’t try anything new on the day. If you do, you may suffer from chaffing, blisters etc.

    If the weather is cool, I recommend you bring an old jumper/fleece that you can wear and throw away at the start line. Also, if it is raining, bring a large black sack which you can wear over your body to avoid getting soaked. Once again, remove it just at the start.

  • 13:14

    Arrive Early

    Give yourself plenty time to prepare for the race. I recommend you arrive half an hour before start time for parkrun. This gives plenty time for toilets stops, warm-up and soaking up the atmosphere. The last thing you want to be is flustered from having to race to the start line!

  • 13:15

    Plan your Food and Drink

    Have your normal breakfast at least 2 hours before the race. Eat lightly on the morning of the race. You won’t be hungry when running I promise.

    In the 2 days before your race, avoid alcohol, drink plenty of water and eat good healthy food.

    For 5k, if you are well hydrated in the days leading up to the race, you should not need to drink lots of water on race morning. Avoid drinking and eating in the hour before the race start.

  • 13:17

    Don’t Panic

    There will always be people who are faster, stronger, more athletic looking than you. Don’t compare yourself to them. You are running your own race. Your target is to reach your goal – not their goal. You have no idea how long they have been running. Don’t compare yourself to them.

    Take deep breaths, relax, enjoy the start line atmosphere and keep calm. You are well prepared.

  • 13:18

    Pace Yourself  

    With all the excitement at the start line, many people get carried away with pace and start running too fast. If you start too fast, you will struggle towards the end. Learn to pace yourself from the start. It’s better to be overtaking people towards then end, than watch everyone running past you. If you start towards the back of the group, you are more likely to pace yourself from the start.  

  • 13:19

    Bring Some Cheerleaders  

    Having friends or family along the route can be a great motivator. Not only will they be able to mind your bags when you are running, an encouraging cheer along the route will keep you smiling, positive and focused. Let your cheerleaders know what a big deal this race is for you, and be sure to give them a wave and smile as you run past them head held high! If they are coming maybe they could consider volunteering to help out parkrun on the day - see for more details

  • 13:20

    Keep Positive

    There may be times during the race when you feel like walking, quitting running forever, crying.

    Try and remember all the effort you have put in to be here, and how easy it would be not to do this race. Picture yourself finishing the race strong and how you will feel when you cross the finish line. Slow down if you need to, catch your breath, refocus and remember what an achievement it will be to complete it. You can only do your best. Keep focused on your race.  

  • 13:21

    Finish with a smile and a sprint    

    As soon as you are about 200m from the finish line, put on your biggest smile, fix your posture, feel strong and keep your eye on the finish. Feel yourself being drawn towards that finish line. Picture yourself being as strong as you can and enjoy the cheers and clapping as you make your way up the finishing stretch. You will get a second wind, no matter how tough you have found the race.  

  • 13:22

    Capture the moment – Take a Photo, Write a Diary, Remember the Day    

    Congratulations – you did it. Now don’t forget what a big deal it is, and how you felt on the day.

    Ideally write down everything about the day and store it away as a motivating read for your next race. In years to come, you will look back on that race with fond memories. If you can’t face writing your story, at least take a photo to help you remember the achievement.  

  • 13:23
    We're now back to the normal Q&A format so if you have any questions for Mary or the physios leave them in the comments here, post them on our Facebook page or use the form on the Get Running page
  • 13:24

    Jennifer: Feeling sore but thrilled at having completed my first real 30 min run at Marlay today . The knees are protesting though - any tips on how to minimise this aching?

    Aidan: Hi Jennifer, some post run soreness will be quite common as you run distances for the first time. This should settle down within 24-48 hours. There are lots of ways that you can help minimise this aching for example: Resting the body, getting a good nights sleep, eating healthy food and staying hydrated by drinking appropriate amounts of water will help your joints and whole body to recover. Some gentle stretching of the joints is also an effective way to minimise aches.   Alternatively running warm and cold water over areas that ache is also a great way to decrease post running stiffness.  

  • 13:27

    Siun: any advice on the unmentionable!! i.e. the required loo stop - running in open parkland or by a river doesnt offer much privacy and with the trees bared it is a nightmare??

    Mary: An awkward question indeed Siun, maybe try and tailor your route to pass by a village or even a bit of a forest area. Sorry no real tips here, but I do find avoiding drinking, caffeine especially, before the run helps me in that regard. You don’t need to be drinking lots before a 5k, or any distance to be honest.

  • 13:28

    Niamh: I have varicose veins in my legs. They haven't been causing me any problems running but is there anything I should be doing to make sure my running doesn't make them worse.

    Blaithin: Hi Niamh, firstly congrats on getting to the 30 minute run. Unfortunately there is not much you can do from the point of view of physiotherapy to help Varicose veins or prevent them getting worse. Most doctors would say just to keep an eye on them and if you find them getting worse with running it is usually because the high impact is causing the swelling in the veins to get a little worse. So best advice is to just keep a close eye on them and make sure that they are not changing or look to be aggravated. Best of luck for the 30 minutes!

  • 13:33

    Mary: So far I have never been able to join the live sessions. I am not finding it easy at all and still struggle. I have had to stick to 20 mins for last week and may do similar for this week. I do hope to get to 30 mins in next few weeks but as I am really struggling is it OK to do it this way. Is anyone else having similar problems I wonder.

    Mary: If it was easy Mary, you would be running already. Lots of people are finding it a struggle, and that is indeed why we say to take it at you own pace. I would certainly advise you to repeat the weeks until you feel comfortable. Many people will take 4-6 weeks longer than the scheduled 8 weeks to complete it, and this is perfectly acceptable. Listening to your body is so important, and going gradually you are more likely to enjoy it and stick with it long term. Repeat your 20 mins again this week, and you will feel all the better for the following few weeks. Best of luck !

  • 13:34

    Anne Marie: I have been following the programme without a problem until week 7 when I developed a tenderness and pain while running in my left ankle. It is now even sore to walk. I am devastated as I had been following the exercise regime religiously. I have had to stop running and am unsure as to how to proceed. Can you offer any advice please re exercises/other therapy that may help?

    Aidan: Hi Anne Marie, I would see a lot of people who have injured their ankles in the past (for example an ankle sprain) and then when they increase their running start to develop ankle pain. The reason for this is that after spraining your ankle you will be left with a weakness in the joint. The joint is then not able to tolerate the increased load of running and starts to get sore. There are some very easy exercises to improve the strength of your ankle such as heel raises, toe raises or working on the balance in your ankle by standing on one leg. Your Chartered Physiotherapist will be able to advise you further on appropriate ways of strengthening the ankles so that they can tolerate the load of running.  

  • 13:38

    Laura: just wondering should we be trying to include hills in our runs from now on or not?

    Mary: Hi Laura, for the first 8 weeks with all my students I try and keep them on the flat. Running is hard enough to start with - not to mention hills. However, as you build up your strength and fitness, including hills in your runs are a great idea. You will find it tougher naturally on the uphill, especially with the breathing, but if you can keep tall and focus on your posture that will certainly help.

    Running downhill then is great, a lovely reward for the uphill work. Try them out indeed, and make sure to stretch your calf muscles well after, lots of people overuse their calf muscles when they start out on hills. Best of luck.

  • 13:41

    Niamh: Thanks so much. I stuck to the plan. It has been great and I did a 5k last night in Sandymount. I really want to go for 10k now - any chance of this being extended? I loved not knowing what the next week would bring. Never felt like too big a task doing it bit by bit. Thanks again.

    Mary: Well done Niamh – that’s super. What an eight weeks for you. Check out tomorrow’s health supplement in The Irish Times for some exciting news about the continuation of Get Running. I think you will like what we have in store for you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I would suggest you repeat week 8 a couple of times to build confidence in your 30 minutes. Sandymount is such a great location too for a run - lovely compact sand to reduce the impact on the body. Well done again.

  • 13:43

    Lynn: I just really want to say thank you to the Irish Times and to Mary Jennings. I completed the course on Saturday last and honestly if anyone had told me at Christmas I'd be running for 30 minutes nonstop in March I'd have laughed. I took Mary's advice about shoes and having the right shoes for me has made a huge difference to the runs. I'm wondering about this week’s training in prep for the graduation run on March 15th. Should we just repeat week eight or do two 30 minute runs before Saturday. Thanks again.

    Mary: Hi Lynn. Excellent question. I would recommend for this week you repeat the two midweek runs from week 8 and you will be fresh then for parkrun on Saturday. I’d recommend you take a rest day on Friday, make sure you have your barcode printed the night before, and set out all your running gear so that there are no panics on the morning. Have a read of all the tips I have set out below, and enjoy it. Your first 5k is a big deal. Enjoy it. You deserve it.

  • 13:54
    That's it for our last Get Running Q&A for this course. Thanks for all the great questions. Hope to see you all at the parkrun events this weekend - don't forget to register in advance at so you can get an official time for your first race. Best of luck. Be sure to send us on your parkrun photos!