Get Running

Coach Mary Jennings answers your questions live

Mary Jennings Mon, Feb 17
LIVE: Get Running

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  • 12:57
    Welcome to our live Get Running Q&A session with your coach Mary Jennings. Be sure to send us any questions or feedback and we'll try and get to them over the next hour.
  • 13:05
    You mentioned a list of free aps to track times and distances. Can't find list. Mary C.
    Mary : No Problem Mary, Here is the info for you, these are some of the options available to you.
    1. Stopwatch on Phone: On your phone there will be a stopwatch you can use. It is quite large and easy to read, so its a good basic options (that's the one you see me use on the iPhone in the video)
    2. Time and Distance Apps: There are apps such as MapMyRun and RunKeeper which not only allow you to track the minutes, but also allow you track your distance and upload results to your computer/Facebook etc.
    3. Running Interval Apps: If the start/stop clockwatching is driving you mad, you can programme various different Running Interval Apps to beep when you should stop and start running. (However now you are up at 10+ minutes, there is a lot less clockwatching and you will only occasionally need to check your time.)
    4. Simple Watch: You dont need a phone at all, you can buy a very simple digital watch, or coaches style stopwatch in somewhere like argos with a large screen for about 10 euro.
    5. Fancy Watch: If you do want to invest in a 'fancy' watch, which has the functionality of all of the above, I like the Garmin brand, and for about 100 euro you can get a watch which will tell you more info that you ever thought you would need to know about running.
    6. Delegate: Final option is to get one of your kids/friends involved, get them to run/cycle with you and to shout out when to stop and start!
  • 13:08
    I’m about to start my first session and was wondering if I could buy one of the Irish Times yellow t-shirts just like the one shown on the training videos? Barbara.
    Mary : We never realised the t-shirts were going to be as popular. After our recent Facebook poll where we asked for people to vote on two designs we are now getting a batch made in black. We’ll provide further details of how you might be able to get one soon. In the meantime, if you see anyone out wearing a yellow one, you will know it’s Mary. She is the only one who has one right now.
  • 13:11
    Oops. That last response was from John Collins, Health + Family editor. Mary hasn't started talking about herself in the third person!
  • 13:11

    Any advice about running with a bunion? I am worried that running may make it worse. Eibhlin

    Mary: Hi Eibhlin, I’m afraid I’m not an expert on bunions at all. I would suggest you check in with your chiropodist and see what they have to say. Everyone is different, so it is hard to advise individually on this. Sorry I can’t give you a better answer than that.  

  • 13:15

    Can you do anything about the weather !!?? Went out today (Wednesday, February 12th) in a gale for session 2 of week 5. Was almost going backwards at times into the wind. Very tough going. Then when the wind was behind me I had to stop myself from going too fast. Amazing that I went out and would never have believed it six weeks ago. Hope wind dies down before my 15 min run later in the week. Great programme. Michael

    Mary : Michael, fair play for persevering in the weather. It really has been a tough few weeks for people to get out and run. As for changing the weather - if only I could I would. It has really made it harder for people to get out there, and to enjoy it. You are right though, one you finish it, you feel fab. That feeling makes it all worthwhile. Forecast is for the wind to die down. Running in the rain is actually quite refreshing, and will be a lot easier without the wind this week. In a few weeks time, when the evenings are longer, and the weather better (hopefully) and people are starting out getting moving again, you will be a step (if not 30 minutes!) ahead of them! Well done on sticking to the programme with the weather. Keep it up.  

  • 13:17

    Am currently on week 3. I am a fit person, recovering from broken knee (June 2013), so I'm increasing my minutes slowly (rather then going from 2 to 5mins over the week, it's, 2-3-4-5 over the week, gradually decreasing rest times). I'm religious about my stretching after (from my physio) but still have muscle weakness/tenderness - could be cold weather also. Not 100 per cent sure how I should be warming up (doing my 5mins), and is there something I should be doing to help the knees? thank you! F.

    Mary: You are right to build back up gradually with the running after your injury. In terms of your question with warmup, start out at a comfortable pace walking, think tall, and gradually move it into a brisk walk, to let the body loosen up. It sounds like you were doing exericse before your injury so if you are aware of dynamic stretches you can do, you can do some of these before you start into the running if you find them helpful. I would suggest an easy warmup, and ease slowly into the run ,and just be very gradual as you get back into it. Your body will strengthen as the weeks go on. For most people over the first few weeks they feel muscles that haven’t been used in a while - hopefully that’s just the same for you. Best of luck.

  • 13:22

    Can you recommend a good stretch for the hips? Am finished 4 weeks and have slight stiffness in hips, but no pain. Absolutely delighted with myself and loving the running. Julie

    Mary: Hi Julie, that’s great you loving the running. I’m delighted. Yes indeed, for the hips there are lots of loosening exercises. I’ll give you the name of them here and you can look up videos online to show you how to do them correctly. So for the front of the hips, if you look up “kneeling hip flexor stretch”, that will help there. For the back of the hips/glutes area, here is a really easy one to do, which I can do here while I’m at the desk. Take a look for “seated hip stretch”. In addition to these, stretching the glute/bum muscles (try “lying glute stretch”) will loosen out the back of the body too. Hope that all makes sense.  

  • 13:31

    Paddy: Hi I've recurring lower leg pain ie calf spasm - can this be related to flat feet, thanks

    Mary: Hi Paddy, sorry to hear about the calf pain. I’m not a physio myself,   but I would recommend you look back over the previous Q&A sessions (archived on this page)that we had with the chartered physios, as they have given lots of tips for calf muscles. From my experience, calf pain can be linked to everything from shoes, running technique, running surface and even as you say, your own feet and the support the shoes are giving them. It is hard to tell you exactly what to do, but try out the tips from the previous Q&A and also my tips with the tennis ball which we previously discussed, and hope that will help. Keep up the calf stretching too, even on days you are not running, and don;t be afraid to stop mid run/walk to loosen out the calf muscles. That better than running through it. Fingers crossed.

  • 13:33

    I get a pain in my left buttock while running and sometimes this might last for a day or so afterwards. I am warming up and cooling down and doing the stretches. Is there a particular stretch that would target this area better? Paul.

    Mary: Hi Paul. Take a look at the tips I have just given there to Julie, especially the lying glute stretch. Fingers crossed that will sort it out. Try it a few times a day, even watching TV, it will hopefully work. The seated hip stretch too might give you relief also. Best of luck !  

  • 13:38

    Cheryl: I was dancing at weekend and have severe calf muscle pain....hoping to go running tonight - is there any stretch i can loosen up these muscles with?

    Mary : Well Cheryl, sounds like you have high heel calf tightness. It’s very common on a Monday and I see it in my own classes with the girls! I’d recommend that if you are wearing high heels today you make sure you spend some time in flat shoes before you start running, or if this is not possible, do extra walking warmup to loosen the legs and then do some dynamic calf stretches to loosen out the calf muscles before you run. By “dynamic”, this is what I mean ; if you think of our standard calf stetch, start in that position, but keep it moving - lift the heel up and down about 20 times. Like you are squashing a fly under your heel each time. That will loosen and lengthen the calf mucles. You can even do to that now, just take off the high heels first. If you feel tight during the run, just stop and do a few more of these too. Best of luck.

  • 13:42

    I did my first run today 15/02/14. I plan to run a 5k on 22nd March. I am a beginner. If I follow this programme, what can I hope to achieve on the 5k day? Will I be ready to run the full way or what walking breaks will I need? Your videos are fantastic!

    Well done on getting started. Normally I would give the people 8 weeks in the programme to get up to a position to where they can get around a 5k by jogging. You only will be 5 weeks into the programme when your event is on, so I think the most important thing for you is not to put pressure on yourself for that day. By week 5 you will be up at running 15 minutes, so you will certainly be able to do that on the day, and then take walking breaks as you need it. Closer to the end of our 8 weeks here, we will be giving tips for your first 5k so be sure to look at those before your event. For now, get the first few weeks behind you, see how the body adapts, and you will be in a much better position to know when/if you will need walk breaks on the day. Everyone is different, but if you are complete beginner, I'd be saying to expect to take a few walk breaks on the 22nd. There are plenty more 5ks later in the spring to run around. Give it a few weeks and you will know best yourself. Best of luck.

  • 13:48

    John O’Gara: Hi Mary, I am struggling with Shin Splints. I have upgraded my runners and got the Shin supports but am stilling getting the shin splints.

    Mary: John, I’m sorry to hear the shins are still at you. Did you take a look at the tips from our Chartered Phyisotherapists in the previous Q&As ? From my experience, technique and also the running surface can help. We will look at the Chirunning techniques for feet and lower legs in the coming week’s videos, so try out those tips which aim to relax the lower legs when running. As a sneak preview, one tip I try and get my students to do is to “relax their shoe laces”. If you think of that part of your foot (the front) being relaxed when you are running, you are less likely to have the tension in the front of foot and up into the shins. It will relax the lower leg and it might just work for you. A lot of people also swear by loosening the calf muscles too. In the meantime, try and keep off the harder surfaces. Will keep the fingers crossed for you.

  • 13:52

    I have been enjoying following the programme and found it fine if challenging all the way to this week when something a little unusual happened - I seem to just take off and found myself doing a 30 minute run. I went out again today and did a 25 minute run on both occassions it was only the last minute or so that was tough. I know I have gone off plan but it didnt seem too bad. My query is - should I go back to following the plan or should I stay at the new 25-30 min run level. I dont want to put myself back through injury (havent felt anything in particular) and neither do i want to go backwards for no reason. Thanks for a great programme and a wonderful incentive to get out there. Jennifer.

    Mary: Sounds like you have even surprised yourself there Jennifer. You are right indeed to be cautious about getting injured from doing too much, but at the same time, I can understand you might feel like it is a step back to go back to the plan. Here is what I would advise someone in your position - do two of your mid week runs with the breaks in between as per the plans, and then for your weekend run, do your longer 25-30 mins. That way, you are maintaining the long minutes, but giving your body a chance midweek to recover and build up strength gradually.   Hope that helps.  

  • 13:55

    Lynn: I’m wondering what running shoes you recommend. I'm up to date with the programme with no problems so far but I definitely need new runners. Really enjoying it and can't believe I'm doing ok. Thank you.

    Mary: Lynn, glad to see you are surprising yourself with your running achievements. Well done. With regard to running shoes, if you are going to make a good investment in them, I would take the time to ask some runners in your local area for a recommendation of a good running shop. They are dotted around the country now, and they will be able to show you different shoes which suit your running style (they will watch you run and advise accordingly). It is possible to spend a lot of money on running gear/shoes, so shop around, buy from a shop that will allow you to try them out indoors at home to know they are right for you. My tip would be to buy from someone who is a runner - they will understand more where you are coming from, rather than a general sports shop.  

  • 14:01

    Claire: How do I get rid of a stitch in my side while running without stopping??

    Mary: A stitch when you are running is so frustrating, I know. The rest of you feels fine but it just digs in your side. I often see it in beginner runners and as time goes on they become less frequent. There are different schools of thought on stitches, but here is my theory. You need to get more air into you to relax the stitch so focus on the running tall, and also on your breathing, slow down your pace and shake out your arms and breath into the area of the stitch. I find if I stop and walk the stitch comes back, so slow the pace but keep jogging and eventually it will subside. Fingers crossed that works for you.

  • 14:02
    Mary: Just to say thanks to everyone for all the great feedback we are getting on the programme. It’s so great to hear all the stories, and delighted so many of you are continuing to surprise yourself each week with your runs. To get out and keep up the programme with the weather we have had is a serious achievement, so a huge congrats on that. If you have stuck out the weather this far, you are really going to love the running once the evenings get longer and the weather warmer. Let’s just hope those days are coming soon... Well done everyone - keep up the good work!
  • 14:03
    That's it for today. We'll be back to answer more of your questions next week