Get Running

Irish Times columnist Ruth Field and Olympic physio Aidan Woods answer questions live

Ruth Field, Aidan Woods Mon, Jan 20
LIVE: Get Running

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  • 20:59
    Welcome to tonights live session for Get Running where we'll hopefully answer as many of your queries as possible. We have two experts available tonight - Irish Olympic physio Aidan Woods and author of the best selling Run Fat Bitch Run, Ruth Field
  • 21:03

    Ruth Field, is a criminal barrister turned author, deranged mother to twin sons and wife to an exhausted husband, living on the edge in North London and currently enjoying a highly volatile love-hate relationship with The Grit Doctor.
    In her own words "The Grit Doctor is my alter ego – a brutal, yet devastatingly effective motivator. She is the strict inner voice that gets me going when I might otherwise give up. The voice of The Grit Doctor is what you have been missing in your life."

  • 21:06

    Our second guest is chartered physiotherapist Aidan Woods who has quite a CV. A specialist in sports medicine, Aidan (pictured with running legend Sonia O'Sullivan) Aidan was appointed Head Physiotherapist for the Irish Olympic team at the London Olympic and will shortly be heading off to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Aidan runs the Pearse Street Physiotherapy Clinic and has also competed internationally for 10 years at World and European levels for both Athletics Ireland and Triathlon Ireland.

  • 21:07

    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? Ally

    Ruth Field: All runs are non-negotiable. You can run TO your pilates class if that's what you mean

  • 21:08

    I started the running program last week. I started with Jogging 4 minutes, Walking 1 min x 3 times i.e. total 15 mins, with a 5 min warm up & cooldown. I have done 3 of these sessions. 1st one was comfortable but each one is getting tougher i.e. during the last session I was struggling with shin splints/calf cramping at around the 3 minute of the 2nd lap. How can I relieve this ?
    Jenny Fitzpatrick

    Aidan Woods: Hi Jenny, the best way to relieve this when you are running is to try to land gently on your heel and keep the foot in contact with the ground for a little longer. This will decrease the stress you are putting on the shins/calfs, and it will also slow you down. Practice this for a while and if it is not working get back to me.

  • 21:09

    I managed to do all the homework last week which for a non-runner I was really proud. However, with the increase to the 2 minute run as I got to the last few reps I did struggle to keep going. Any pointers on how to get past this particularly as this week it will be up to 4 minutes run. I do go very slow but still struggle - more that my legs get tired rather than out of breath. I don't want to give up now I have started. I am over 50 so that has also got be a factor. I am not unfit as walk my dog and do Zumba, but am struggling to get to the end. Mary

    Ruth: Amazing that you are doing so well and determined to keep going. No doubt about it the running parts are hard. BUT, I promise you that it is ALWAYS possible to slow down and this is what I recommend that you do and if you can only manage 3 minute bursts so be it. It will just add another week onto the programme. And it will get so much easier, the hardest part by miles is getting started so well done on that!

  • 21:11

    The only times I have run straight after getting up in the morning I have found myself too stiff i.e. very little bounce in my running, though this is defintely my preferred time of the day for running; which is on hold at the momment because one of the children has a flu. How do I limber up fast and safely. Fiona

    Aidan: Hi Fiona, when you get out of bed try to stay warm and try not to let your body get cold. Straight away on getting up, put warm clothes on that you are going to use on your run, and keep moving. It would also be worth while to do a few extra stretches before you leave the house.

  • 21:12

    Hi I'm getting pains in my ankles when i'm about the 5-6 runs into this. I can walk long distances with no pains. I have proper footwear & had orthothotics fitted ages ago - have no existing ankle injuries - any thoughts?  Mary

    Aidan: Hi Mary, it might be worth going back to the person who originally gave you the orthotics to see if they are still providing you with the correct amount of support for your ankles. If you have had your orthotics for a long time then they may be getting a bit worn and if they are not providing you with the correct amount of support you may need to get another pair.

  • 21:14

    I will miss week 4 ( Skiing ) Do I just take the hit,or continue the programme albeit a week in arrears? Colm

    Ruth: Take it back up from where you left off after your holiday! So no skiving any weeks! Enjoy the skiiing

  • 21:17

    I started The Get Running plan  monday.. but I ended up been out for about 50mins, as everytime i met someone i knew, id walk as im so embarressed by my weight etc...and would have to start all over again.. anyway i did my walking and jogging today but did it on my treadmill, and enjoyed it alot more, is this ok, or is it going against the plan.. i just dont have the confidence to got out in public to run..Thank you

    Ruth: Well done on cracking on despite feeling embarrassed and using your initiative to use the treadmill instead.   It takes a lot of courage to begin a running programme especially when you are overweight so you should be very proud of yourself for getting started.   Look, the treadmill is always going to win hands down against the couch, so if its all you can manage for the moment, then that's ok with me!   One thing I would recommend though, is that you always set  the treadmill  at an incline of at least 1 because otherwise it is almost like running downhill and you will find it much much harder to run outdoors if you  have got used to this easier treadmill running which will act as a disincentive when the time comes and you don't want that.   And you will get back outdoors again - because a run outside is so much more rewarding and invigorating and you will be wanting to show off that new slimmer body soon too!   So keep at it and well done so far..

  • 21:22

    I commenced today but did too much and my tendons are now very sore. Should I take a rest before I commence again?

    Aidan: Hi Eamon, I recommend you rest until your tendons have stopped being sore. When you start back try not to do too much. Start back at the first training session on the programme and then see how your tendons feel afterwards.

  • 21:23

    I did my first run/walk and found my shins were sore when jogging ie the front of my lower leg. Is this to do with my warm up or my lack of running technique. I have no pain in the calf muscle. What do you recommend?

    Aidan: Hi Ciara, this is most likely due to your lack of running technique. Try applying ice wrapped in a damp towel to the shins after each jog to see if this relieves the soreness.

  • 21:25

    I have started the8 week training you say at least I went out the door...I am finding the first ten mins fine but on the last few mins of jog walk I feel whacked....I never jogged in my life before so would not be very fit.......I'm really enjoying the feeling of doing this though...I am in my mid 50s (ahem) so am determined to do this 8 weeks training so I can prove to myself that I CAN jog. rgds....Ger

    Ruth: Yes, it is completely normal, I remember thinking I was going to have a heart attack when I first jogged - even for a few minutes and I was supposedly fit and in my prime (25 years old)! So don't be put off, it is entirely natural as its a big shock to the body and it certainly will take some getting used to. One piece of advice is GO SLOWER. Jog as slowly as is humanly possible, so that there is barely any discernible difference between your jogging pace and your walking pace. The slower you jog, the longer you will be able to tolerate it and ultimately sustain is - the goal being to jog for 30 minutes straight. Only once you are able to do this comfortably do you need to think about upping the pace. So slow slow and then even SLOWER again. Well done on getting started!

  • 21:29

    Hi - last year I bought running shoes. They seemed to fit in the shop, but when I ran in them, one of my feet was numb by the end of the run. I've tried them with the laces tied very loosely, but the same thing happened. It definitely contributed to me stopping running. I've started up again and I am enjoying it a lot. But I know I'll need to get some running shoes again soon as the ones I'm using are very old and worn. Can you advise on how to choose shoes and where best to go for in-store advice.

    Aidan: Hi Edel, If your old running shoes are comfortable and you are not having any problems with them try to buy the same pair the next time you go shopping. If you can’t find the same pair to buy new, or they have been discontinued, the person in the shop should be able to advise you as to what is the closest pair they have to your old runners.

  • 21:32

    Hi. This is great - Get Running is brilliant, well done.
    I'm getting post-exercise muscle / groin pain at the top of my right leg. Do you know any stretches that would help this?
    Thank you, Sharon

    Aidan: Hi Sharon, the hip flexor is the muscle at the top of your leg. The hip flexor can be stretched by standing up straight, holding on to a table with both hands, and slowly sliding one foot out behind you until you feel a stretch in the front of the hip. If this is giving you relief, hold for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.

  • 21:34

    I have a history of lower back pain and have been used to a certain daily degree of pain and stiffness. It's arthritis in my facet joints.i drive 5,000kms per mth. I walk at least 45mins brisk per day. Aqua and yoga and have started spinning. I have always wanted to jog and loved the week gone by. Today I have pain in my knee sudden onset and feeling that it will give way. I intended to jog tomorrow morning and sometimes feel I have to go through these nagging pains to achieve anything. I am a young 47 year old female. Thank you. Denise

    Aidan:  Hi Denise, I prefer that people do not have pain in their joints while running. The reason for this is that you run a risk of damaging the cartilage in the joint. Cartilage has a poor ability to heal and sometimes doesn’t heal up properly. If you still have pain in your knee tomorrow morning I recommend that you don’t run, and go to get your knee assessed by a Chartered Physiotherapist.  

  • 21:36

    What's best food pre/post run of less than 10km? Andy G

    Ruth: Really no fuss necessary for runs at that sort of distance and entirely a matter of personal preference. I like plain foods like brown toast or half a toasted bagel and a cuppa if I am going on a morning run half an hour or so beforehand. But I often run on an empty stomach over very short distances as I find the running so much easier and because I'd much rather enjoy a big meal afterwards when I feel really hungry and deserving. The bottom line is, just eat whatever you fancy or whatever works. But don't run on a full stomach as it's hard work.

  • 21:39

    Hi, I've been experiencing pain in my shins (more on one than the other) during my runs to the point where I have to stop. Is there any stretches that would help with this? Or what should I do? Heather

    Aidan: Hi Heather, shin pain is a very common problem encountered by runners. The shins do a lot of work when running and if they get overused they can become sore. Running on grass is one way to decrease the amount of work that the shins do while running. If you do try running on the grass make sure to do it in day light so that you can see where you are going and always look out for potholes, stones, twigs or anything else that you could trip over. Also another way to decrease the amount of work that shins do while running is to wear a good pair of runners. If your runners are old or have been used a lot then it may be time to look at getting a new pair. If you try these and you are still experiencing pain in your shins then you should go and get them assessed by your Chartered Physiotherapist to see if there are any other reasons for your pain.

  • 21:43

    Hi, I'm still really struggling and am up to only a minute and a half then walk for 2 mins on the treadmill! Will my stamina ever come back? It's been years since I've run but I'm not particularly overweight, have never smoked and have remained fit as I'm always on my feet... I would like to be able to go for runs though but at the moment it doesn't look like it. Michelle

    Ruth: Don't give up. you can do this, everybody can. I actually find it much harder to run on a treadmill (even though it is in reality easier than running outdoors) because it is so BORING. And I feel like a hamster on a wheel and apnic that I am going to fall off. Its very hard to lose yourself in the run on a treadmill. Have you tried taking your training outdoors? If not, this is what I recommend you try before you give up as its so much more interesting and the time seems to pass more quickly. Your stamina will come back but Rome wasn't built in a day and this is only the beginning of your journey so don't expect too much of yourself or the programme and expect it to be hard. Hard is the new black though so learnt to love it!

  • 21:48

    Mary: I have had hip pain on the outside of my hips after my runs. It's been sore to walk etc, is there anything I can do to ease this pain out or is it muscle soreness from beginning a programme?

    Aidan: Hi Mary, it is quite common to get muscle soreness when beginning a programme. This is commonly called DOMS or Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness and in runners can happen in any of the leg muscles. Stretching will give relief from DOMS. Another way to get relief from DOMS is to have a shower or bath. The good thing about DOMS is that it will go away after 24-48 hours so you should be feeling better in time for your next run. Also as you get fitter you are less likely to experience DOMS.

  • 21:50

    Hi there, enjoying the programme and have never jogged before! Understanding what Mary says about what it does for your head. Looking forward to running longer. Travelling abroad soon, any tips on keeping it up while away? Thanks. Una

    Ruth: Running abroad is absolutely fantastic. Great way to explore your new environment plus wonderful way to enhance your enjoyment of the holiday because you have all those endorphins fizzing around in your head AND you're on holiday. Don't know where you are going but if its a beach holiday nothing beats a beach run through the sunrise and feel the extra burn on your butt and legs, fantastic working out in the sand. Keep it up while away by keeping it simple. Hotel may have a gym if you are nervous about going off outdoors in unfamiliar territory for example.

  • 21:53

    Hi, i done my three sessions last mon, tues and wed. When i started back today i found it very hard, as if i was starting from the start again. Should i pace out my three sessions through the whole week rather than three sessions together? Emily

    Ruth: Definitely pace them out a bit! Three days on the trot and then a big gap is not the ideal formula. Have a look back over the running plan again for the ideal way to space out your runs. Best of luck and keep it up!

  • 21:56

    Hi there, was off to a good start last week , I live in the country side so when I ran into the smell of silage in the early morning air, was glad my tummy had little to digest and it made me complete my run in good time..I have a concern about possible injury to my knees. when running the knees take the full impact of the body as makes contact with the ground, does running slower lessen the impact? Miriam

    Aidan: Hi Miriam, running slower lessens the impact on the legs. The reason for this is that the foot spends more time in contact with the ground, which means that there is more time for the weight of the body to be absorbed into the ground through the leg. Runner slower should result in less soreness post training and less injuries.

  • 21:58

    I have been getting a sharp pain in my upper left leg which goes right up through my left buttock. While I have no pain while running or walking, I do have a lot of pain when sitting, especially when sitting for anything more than few minutes. Any sugggestions? Ursula

    Aidan: Hi Ursula, usually when someone is experiencing pain in their buttock or back with sitting it is because there is a problem in their lower back. It is quite common for runners to experience lower back pain, this is due to the increased stresses placed on the body each time the foot hits the ground when running. There are some very effective stretches and strengthening exercises which can help protect your back while running, if you go to see your local Chartered Physiotherapist they will be able to show these to you.

  • 22:00

    Just came upon this by accident & delighted as it's just what I need. Where will I find the running plan?! Erin

    Everything you need is at

  • 22:03

    What is your opinion on gait analysis for choosing runners in sports shops? Is it just. Sales tool or something worth taking the time to do? Jane

    Aidan: Hi Jane, I have found that my patients all really enjoy getting their gait/running style analysed in sports shops. They enjoy getting tips about their running technique, enjoy learning more about their feet and enjoy the time that the person in the shop spends with them. I have yet to get negative feedback from any patient who has had their gait/running style analysed.

  • 22:07

    That's it for tonight. Sorry Ruth and Aidan couldn't get to all your questions but we'll be having another live session next Monday night. You can also send queries to or comment on our Facebook page