Q and A with Olympic runner, Liz Yelling

(47 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-Jun-10 12:32:39

Liz Yelling and the GirlzRun team of experts will be joining us on Mumsnet to answer your questions on all aspects of running. This can include anything from how to get started, nutrition, injuries, running while pregnant or breastfeeding or getting back into running after a baby and juggling parenting and running. Liz is also happy to answer personal questions about how she manages to combine being a mother with being an olympic athlete. She's aiming for her 3rd Olympic Games in London 2012.

angelene Wed 02-Jun-10 12:55:04

Ooh, excellent. When is this?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-Jun-10 13:12:07

Sorry Angelene - wasn't clear in my first post. This is a Q and A, not live webchat, so if you post your questions to this thread before next Wednesday 9th June. Liz will send over her answers during the next week and we'll link to an archive of the Qs and As.

popsycal Wed 02-Jun-10 13:13:08

ooooh oooh oooh
marks place for later

Hi, am running the half marathon for the Wallace and Gromit Appeal in September in aid of Bristol Children's Hospital.

The only run I do at the moment is the school run blush although do the cross trainer and swim.

I have 3 months to get ready.

Any advice? smile

JJ Wed 02-Jun-10 15:27:26

Good luck on the Olympic Games!

What do you do for cross training? My core is weak (putting it mildly) and I think it would help if I had some sort of core strength. Is Pilates good? Yoga? How often would I have to do it? I'm doing a sprint tri on Saturday and have been training for months, so do bike and swim as well as run but still have a core about as strong as wet cardboard (and covered by a thick layer of fat, but let's not get into that).

The running training day looks great. I can't make it but am sure it'll be fun.

ilove - I used the Bupa training plans for a 10k and a half marathon - popsy recommended them and I think they're fab!

cocolepew Wed 02-Jun-10 17:07:58

Hi Liz, Do you think you need to spend a lot of money on trainers? What sort of thing should you be looking for in a trainer?

Good luck with the Olympics smile

Wallace Wed 02-Jun-10 17:24:51

marking my place too

Ooo exciting!

Have you or would you consider training at one of Kenya's 'High Altitude Training Camps'? If so then what are the benefits of training and running at a higher altitude?

Will it mean I can knock 5 mins off my half marathon time if I then subsequently run at sea-level? grin

<it's always shoes with Coco>

Good luck in the Olympics.

cocolepew Wed 02-Jun-10 17:31:14


MollieO Wed 02-Jun-10 18:44:13

Jogger trying to get fit and lose weight here. Is it better to run slower and further distance or faster and shorter?

DwayneDibbley Wed 02-Jun-10 20:43:50

I'm about to start running again after having my second child. i didn't run last time until after I stopped breastfeeding, but this time I can't wait that long! I've found getting correctly measured for a NORMAL bra enough of a challenge, so what do I do about protecting my assets with a bra suitable for running? Any brands I should look for? Also any general tips on starting again after having a baby. (I used to run 3 times a week, generally two 6-8 milers and a 4 miler a week. When I start again it'll be nearly a year since my last run.)

Also I had an EMCS this time (emergency c-section, just in case you're no ua fait with the MN accronyms!) I guess this means i will take things easier and build up more gently, but any tips on how to approach running after this type of surgery?

Thanks, and Good Luck in the Olympics!

2 questions about time:

a) I am early forties and a decent(ish) runner (not in your league, but hey, there's only so much room at the top ) - but I really struggle to put together much better than about a 5 min/k pace, even when I'm clocking lots of mileage. Do I need to do speedwork? How would I begin, with my elderly joints and muscles?

b) how do you juggle kids and training (I also have f/t job, house, garden and allotment, plus various other family members draining my lifeblood away to care for)? please don't say you get up at 5am!

WilfShelf Wed 02-Jun-10 21:53:11

I'd love to be able to run. Last time I tried I was 4 stone overweight and I did walk/jog on the treadmill for 30 second intervals.

Just the one time.

4 physio sessions and a lighter purse later, I was told I had 'runner's knee'. Arf. After one go blush

I put this down to being too fat, unfit and having had wobbly ligaments after having a baby. However, I also have some hip instability and I have very flat feet over-pronate a lot <the physio gave me my money's worth in analysing my bodliy inadequacies... hmm>

I am now [only - heh heh] two stone overweight and would love to run for fitness, but be honest, there's probably no hope or point for someone as rickety as me, is there?

Should I give it a go with better shoes, strapping etc? Or just stick to walking?

deepdarkwood Thu 03-Jun-10 09:53:15

Very best of luck with the Olympics - I can imagine that competing at a home country Olympics must be pretty much as good as it gets smile

- what advice would you have to motivate an occasional, but rather fairweather runner? I suspect I need a race to train to (probably a 10k) but am too chicken to register for one!

- Any tips for running safely on winter nights - I am by and large hard to scare (except wasps smile), and live in a pretty safe area, but I do feel surprisingly vulnerable.

I know the rules are usually one qu only, so answer whichever you like!

annieapple7 Thu 03-Jun-10 10:43:00

Here's a question for Liz - when and how do you stretch to prevent injury?

gladders Thu 03-Jun-10 10:49:48

Hello - and thank you for my bottle of lucozade at mile 23 on marathon day - a highlight of my race!

I've just had a bad 10k race - was aiming for 53 minutes but blew up at 5k and trailed home feeling very dejected.

I am pretty sure my problem is my mental approach to it - any tips on how to stay strong and focused and overcome the desire to throw the towel in when things go wrong? I

cal79 Thu 03-Jun-10 13:01:00

Firstly, good luck for the Olympics and all the training up to it.

I'm slowly getting into running (half marathons and 10ks) but am a bit confused on the advice about stretching before a run. I've heard you shouldn't stretch before your muscles/joints have warmed up as you're likely to do more damage. Is this true and so should you warm up, stretch then run or only concentrate on stretching after your run?

hatwoman Thu 03-Jun-10 13:22:09

I regularly enter fell runs - which tend to be about 5 miles with something in the region of 1000 feet of climb - all on rough ground of varying sorts (peaty grass, stoney paths and rivers....). The winners of these races are just awesome - doing 6 minute miles including suicidal descents.

Should I stick to practicing on 5-mile routes that replicate the races or should I do hell repetitions? that was meant to say hill repetitions but it was too good a typo to correct...

any other training tips to up my pace?

a separate question, if I may - I am fascinted by the power of the mind when it comes to running. when I did the London marathon my legs buckled (just a bit - I didn't collapse) as I crossed the finish line. Now I am 100% certain that would have happened had the line been a mile nearer or further - it was totally my mind - not my legs. How can you/do you put this amazing power to good use?

juicychops Thu 03-Jun-10 13:26:16

Hello smile

i have been running for 6 weeks nearly and can now do 3 miles. I am adding half a mile each week.

my question is... what are your prefered pre run and post run meals/snacks?

im not quite at the point where i have to be too worried about this, but i will hopefully be there soon!!

and good luck with the 2012 olympics grin

ExpatAgain Thu 03-Jun-10 14:19:31

am 41 been running up to 5x a week, up to 40 miles per week total. Fairly pleased with halfmarathon pb of 1hr 56 but marathon blooming awful at 5 hours 3 mins.

I'd hoped for 4 1/2hrs (or even less), had put in all the training in terms of mileage (though hadn't monitored my speed on long runs, possibly over-focussed on the "slow" part of remit rather than running long distance at marathon place). I usually run much of the time off road (trails/fields/treadmill) and I really suffered running 26 miles all on road esp on my back, itb etc.

any advice for future marathon and improving my time?

thanks so much!

strandedatsea Thu 03-Jun-10 15:17:05

Hi Liz, thanks for coming on and good luck with the Olympics.
I'm interested in your views on drugs in athletics. Over the years we have seen more and more top atheletes exposed as drug cheats. Do you think it is ever going to be possible to hold a truly drug-free Olympics? Or should we just accept that there is always the possiblity that those at the very top of the game are probably using some sort of illegal substance (not you of course!).
I used to live in Jamaica and saw Usain Bolt running as a schoolboy, he was always special so I have always hoped that he is drug free. But when you see someone so far ahead of the others like this you (sadly) have to have your doubts these days.
(sorry, I realise you are a long-distance runner and these are more questions about the sprinters so feel free to ignore me if it's out of your area).

TheChewyToffeeMum Thu 03-Jun-10 21:33:15

Hi Liz - I have just had an interesting chat with a man in my local running shop about barefoot running and the vibram fivefinger type shoes he was wearing.
Have you ever considered this approach or would you consider it too risky?

JackBauer Fri 04-Jun-10 08:03:47

Hi liz, good luck at the olypmics first of all!

I only started running last year after doing the couch potato to 5k and am now running 2.5 miles a few times a week. I am finding it harder to run further though and keep hitting a wall, could it be that I don't run with a drink?
I find it awkward to carry but if it would help me carry on then I would need tips as well!

Also, (And I know this is 2 questions, sorry!) how long do you think is optimum to leave between eating and running?


nowherewoman Fri 04-Jun-10 10:26:59

Hi Liz - when I was pregnant, I had to stop running before I wanted to because I couldn't stand the feeling of the baby bouncing on my bladder while I was running! Is there any way to avoid this, like a bump support or something? How long did you manage to run for when you were pregnant?
Good luck from me too!

Suziewee Fri 04-Jun-10 11:44:27

Hi Liz,

I ran the London Marathon in April and felt pretty strong and great most of the way round. I didn't hit the wall and really enjoyed myself. I really enjoyed the training too but the trouble is my motivation has just gone. How do I get myself motivated again after living and breathing the marathon for the best part of 6 months? How do you get yourself going again after a major event?

I also want to lose some weight so I can get faster but its just not happening. I don't like dieting as I feel hungry and therefore don't have the energy to run. What is the best food to eat that gives you energy but keeps the weight down? Any advice would be great.

Best of luck from me too smile.

fluffles Fri 04-Jun-10 14:48:49


I am interested to know whether you think that mass participation 'recreational' road running events are good for athletics in this country? Or are they bad for 'proper' atheltics and running, or have no effect at all?


Doyouthinktheysaurus Fri 04-Jun-10 15:06:48

Hi Liz,

I've entered the Brighton Marathon next year and at the moment most of my running is on trails. What proportion of running should be done on roads in preparation for the marathon. Do I need to switch all my runs to the road?

Also do you think it is possible to achieve the level of fitness needed to survive the marathon on 3-4 runs a week? At the moment I do 4 runs and can't see a way I could fit in a 5th and live to tell the talegrin

Many Thanks

AmpleBosom Fri 04-Jun-10 23:33:22

Hi Liz,

I'm really thinking about starting running, i have never tried it before! I have a very large chest (A few sizes past a G cup blush ) and am currently breastfeeding, can you give me any advice for me on how to get started? I'm thinking two sports bras is the way forward grin

Thanks and good luck in the olympics!

MathsMadMummy Sat 05-Jun-10 08:16:40

Hi Liz,

Mine's similar to some other questions I suppose. I've never run before (although I was fairly decent at sprinting in school) as I find the impact too much. I can use a cross-trainer 'til the cows come home but when running the shock of my feet hitting the pavement actually hurts! It may have something to do with my weight blush. I'm breastfeeding too, and am a J cup, so I always feel like I need to run holding them down!

Is this problem something that can be overcome? Or should I forget about it for now, and focus on other low-impact exercise until I've lost weight?

Thanks - and best of luck for the Olympics. Will see you there if we have any chance of getting tickets!

racmac Sat 05-Jun-10 08:35:50


Im doing a half marathon in 2 weeks time and Im getting there - my long term goal is to speed up as im slow

Any tips on how to improve my speed? and keep it up at distance

newgirl Sat 05-Jun-10 22:43:27

Hi - I'm a big fan!

Good luck with the training for the Olympics!

My question - I've built my fitness up using your book and I've run a marathon. I really enjoy running which I never thought I'd say. However, I never seem to lose any weight - how can this be?! Too many cakes? How do I work out how much to eat and have the energy to do everything I need to do?

AlCrowley Sun 06-Jun-10 21:52:24

After DS was born, I started running and was up to a comfortable 11k before I fell pregnant with DD. I'm now 5 1/2 months post my second c-section and 10 weeks into training. I'm only managing around 5.5k a run at the moment. Partly down to not having enough time to run and partly down to my fitness. I'm also breastfeeding.

Tried my first 10k today and while it went OK, I had to walk after about 7k due to calf cramp and a numbness which I seem to get in my middle toes (and sometimes fingers too) as I run.

Is this likely to be down to dehydration? Pre-race food? Breathing? Is there anything I can do to prevent/help it? I've had a gait analysis and have proper running shoes.

Obviously, after 2 csections, my core strength is probably a bit weak too. Should I be working on this to help my running?

ExpatAgain Mon 07-Jun-10 08:53:11

(doyouthinktheysaurus - i did this one, fab route but like you had mainly run off road and I DID suffer - back ache, leg tears etc. Think tbh I should have done much more roadrunning. I managed training on 4 x a week though, no less)
Anyway, hope that helped but over to the expert, sure LIz knows much more than me.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Mon 07-Jun-10 12:50:59

Thanks for the advice ExpatAgain, I feared that I may have to take to the roads.

I just find road running so much more tedious than on the Downs.

Will you be doing another marathon Expat? I've got my eye on Beachy Head marathon if I can get through Brighton but we shall see... the hills, the hills...grin

Catilla Mon 07-Jun-10 13:36:28

I'd like to add to the theme of some earlier questions about motivation to keep going. Before the age of about 30 I could never run - legs just felt so heavy and I was a bit asthmatic. I have done other sports though, eg. rowing at university and quite serious horse riding.

After having children there was even less chance of getting to a gym or team activity or anything regular, so I tried running as a way to exercise with minimal equipment/planning. I started with tiny walk/run/walk between lampposts and used Couch to 5k to get going a bit further. I bought some proper shoes and did the Race for Life and another local 5k last summer in around 40 mins. Had to walk a bit but not as much as I thought, and felt really good! Through the winter it's depressing, and I can't venture far in the evenings, and just as I got going for spring I got ill.

Now when I go out I find it very hard to stay motivated to do the same thing again and again. The first few times are OK, but building up to longer sessions and continuing to go out several times per week seems hard. Initially I guess I have an excuse not to do too much and can exceed my plans, but soon I "ought" to be doing more and the lazy me kicks in again. I also find it hard to make time for stretching and core work (which I need for my achy back and flabby tum!) - it's usually about midnight when I remember I should try to do a little bit most days :-(

Basically, I'd love to hear any tips you have for sustaining motivation and interest when essentially lots of repetition is required, and I'm not really a natural runner.

Thanks for coming to Mumsnet!

liath Mon 07-Jun-10 20:12:58

I've found that with my running if I go out just before my period is due then I feel terrible - legs like lead, wading through treacle etc. I'm not really as fit as I'd like but is this something that plagues professional athletes too? I can't imagine anything worse than training hard for an event and then it all going to pot because of hormones.

Also, have you read "Born to Run" and do you have any views on the barefoot running movement that seems to be taking off a bit at the moment? Thanks.

hatwoman Mon 07-Jun-10 21:53:37

doyouthinktheysaurus I did the london marathon last year and I did about 80 per cent or more of my training off road - some on trials and some on completely soft ground. I have no idea if this is advisable and I'm sure liz will respond but for me, it was fine.

FiveGoMadInDorset Tue 08-Jun-10 12:23:51

Good luck with training for the Olympics.

Any idea what the best shoe for running/walking is preferably not many pounds.

Herecomesthesciencebint Tue 08-Jun-10 12:52:38

Hi there,

just wanted to ask about progress and time.I am building up to my first half marathon and now running about 12 miles on a weekend 9slow but steady!)

I usually do one other short run in the week and a class 9bodycombat) but really cant fit much else in without it having a huge impact on the rest of my life. i can only train in the evenings once DH home which is after 8 so thats my evening gone really. So 3x weekly is my max.

Is it possible to keep getting better with this amount of training or will it be terribly slow going?good look in 2012!

WilfShelf Tue 08-Jun-10 15:40:50

Actually, I've got another question, but not about me.

DS1 (11) is a little bit into running: he's done a few charity runs and is quite keen on taking it further. Since (see further up the thread!) I don't run, I'm wondering if a club is the best bet?

Are there junior athletics clubs and how does it all work? Sorry, I realise you don't need an Olympian to answer this one but since you're on... grin

When do we get the A's back?

MoshiMoshi Sun 13-Jun-10 20:38:10

Hi Liz,

I have decided to shed my trainer of choice for the past ten years (Asics Gel Kayano recommended for over-pronation) and get something more neutral and try and work on my gait and physiological weaknesses instead to balance out my biomechanical inefficiencies (phew!) I am 37 and suspect that as I get older, if I wish to continue running (and I am hoping to run into my 60s and onwards!) I will have to get the whole anti-pronation shoe/orthotics combination at some point, but for now I really want to work on getting my body back into shape (after having had 4 children in 6 years) and feel what is going on instead of blissfully pounding away the miles in hyper cushioned support shoes and ending up with some over-use injury.

What are your views on this and do you have any tips on this sort of approach? I don't think barefoot running is for me but I guess it is a step in that direction in acknowledging that I want to avoid the usual approach to trainers.

Many thanks!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Jun-10 10:03:25

Many thanks for all your questions. We've sent them over to Liz and the team and will be linking to the Q and A from this page later this week. We'll sticky the thread when it's up, so do check active convos.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 22-Jun-10 15:51:52

Liz and the Girlzrun team have answered your questions. You can see the full archive here

ExpatAgain Tue 22-Jun-10 16:08:17

well she didn't answer mine! Might not bother next time, hmm.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Tue 22-Jun-10 16:25:45

Thankyou to Expatagain and Hatwoman for answering my question about off-road training for a road marathon because Liz didn'twinkgrin

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