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Webchat with Alexandra 'Hemmo' Heminsley, author of Running Like a Girl, Thursday 27 February, 1-2pm

(61 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 21-Feb-14 16:23:06

Following the success of the recent blog and book giveaway we're delighted that author of Running Like a Girl Alexandra Heminsley will be joining us for a webchat on Thursday 27 February between 1 and 2pm.

When Alex first tried running, she could barely make it the to end of the road. Five years later, she's completed five marathons. In her book she explains how running has transformed her relationship with her body, and helped her to find reserves of determination that her pre-running self could never have imagined.

Whether you're a runner or spend time thinking about running, come and chat to Alex on Thursday 27th at 1pm or post a question in advance to this thread.

EauRouge Fri 21-Feb-14 18:11:27

Thanks for this, MNHQ thanks

Hello, Alex,

I've got my first half marathon in a week and I'm a bit nervous about it (not least because I've only just found out there's a 2:30 time limit). Any tips for coping with race day nerves? Should I just plan puking breaks for the first couple of miles?

Thank you.

Hi Alexandra

I loved your book and found it incredibly inspiring. It was nice to read something about running that wasn't penned by someone who was an elite athlete to start with!

I have a couple of 10ks and a half lined up this year, but I am struggling with my endurance. What are your top tips for improving stamina?

Thanks!

sybilfaulty Mon 24-Feb-14 14:27:42

Hi Alexandra

I loved your book - thank you.

I have done C25K 3 times and failed to keep going every time once I had completed it. I also could never do 5k in 30m, more like 33-35. Where am I going wrong? When will I get the runner's thrill? I really want to love it as it would be such a handy way of keeping fit (unlike swimming, which I love but which takes ages) but no joy so far.

Thanks

HypodeemicNerdle Mon 24-Feb-14 16:35:35

Hi Alex

Wanted to get this in now incase I forget on Thursday! Where do you get your trainers from? I've just been into my local running shop and, because I need pronation support, the only shoes they could show me were over £100. I can't believe that's my only option.

Really enjoyed your book, I'm currently rereading a chapter or two the night before I go out running to motivate me out of my cosy warm bed!

clare21 Mon 24-Feb-14 17:32:26

Hi Alex - quite hard not to say Hi Hemmo

Your book is brilliant. I grazed on it, then keep going back to it, and so far have recommended to 3 colleagues.

My question is about speed and stamina. So should I be making more effort to speed up my runs, or is the slow longer distance equally effective at toning? As a C2-5k devotee (evangelist?) my target is 10k. I can do 7.5 comfortably though takes an hour.

Thank you for all your sensible advice especially on trainer and bra shopping

Mitchy1nge Mon 24-Feb-14 19:51:27

hi alex, [sycophantically] excited to see you here! I was enjoying your book last year until I lost it somewhere, annoyingly had just got up to the bit where you fell over during the London marathon and hurt your knee - will never know how severe the injury was, if you finished, what your time was and so on unless I get another copy. Maybe will download it before Thursday. But thanks to you I did learn not to bother experimenting with any more (under) pants while running. Yay.

Anyway my question is: Am 13 weeks away from my first full marathon (Edinburgh), was running quite well until an overuse type calf strain crept up on me in December. Am back on schedule with my training plan, having physio and cross-training - all of which in theory should see me as physically well prepared as any average ex-chain-smoking first timer. The problem is I'm increasingly terrified of the distance, I even have dreams where I'm not allowed to stop running over all sorts of impossible terrain. I set off for a long slow run and Garmin tells me I'm running at 95% maximum heart rate, not because I'm working hard but because I'm so anxious about it all. I'm pretty sure I do love running really and do actually want to do the marathon, in fact have a charity place for Berlin in September. Am I becoming phobic or is this a normal way to feel, or at least within the normal range of anxieties, do you think? Or is it A Sign that I am simply not supposed to run that far? Like Icarus, only I will end up pooing myself or aspirating on energy gel vomit or something.

Withdrawing is not really an option unless my leg completely falls off so am hoping and will be very grateful for any reassuring words you can offer. Thanks.

YompingJo Tue 25-Feb-14 08:47:50

Hi Alex,

I have to be honest, I haven't read your book although after reading all the great reviews I'm planning to buy it.

I used to run a lot before having my little girl, I did a half marathon a year and various 10ks in between. I am trying to get back up to that standard but my issue now is time - I work 4 days a week, too far away from home to run to work (and there are no showers there so I would stink like a minger all day, ewww). Husband works shifts so is at work 2 weekends out of 4, and my small person (16 months old) is at that irritating age where she can walk so doesn't like sitting in the buggy, and anyway would much rather mummy carried her and isn't afraid to make a big fuss about it - so running with the buggy is not a pleasant option at all, she can scream for quite a long time if she wants to.

How do I fit in weekly long runs and still manage to do bedtime, go to work, eat, sleep, cook etc, without actually being Superwoman? Do you have any tips?

Thank you!

Loved the book!

I committed to running about 4 months ago. I got from hobbling a mile to running 3-4 miles quite easily, but I'm really struggling to go any further. And I really really struggle with hills. In my head to be a proper runner I need to be able to go out for 6-7 miles without having to walk up every slight incline! And there's also the small matter that I've signed up for the GSR in October...

Any tips for progressing and conquering longer hillier distances?

FidgetPie Wed 26-Feb-14 07:29:55

Hi

I'm currently reading your book - and really enjoying it.

I discovered the joy of running when trying to conceive (effort to loose weight and get healthy). I've now got a 10 week old and am gradually starting running again.

My question is about varying my run. I read in runners world etc about speedwork and fartleks (sp?) which sounds a bit technical / daunting etc. I just run about as fast as I can without becoming breathless and my pace is mainly driven by the incline etc. What tips have you got for starting to vary things / take it to the next level.

Thanks

twojumpingbeans Wed 26-Feb-14 09:07:57

Hi, I have recently started running (stumbling/hobbling/wobbling), I'm
not overweight but am definitely not that fit! I am really enjoying it but have horrible knee pain, not whilst I'm running but more afterwards. I bought a knee support and take ibuprofen before I run but it still hurts.. Any suggestions of ways I can run to try to minimise whatever damage I've done/am doing to my poor knee! I'm wondering if I have a duff technique?

Thank you!

CheeseStrawWars Wed 26-Feb-14 09:44:18

Hi Alexandra,

I've got into running a few times, but as soon as I start doing longer runs on a regular basis I end up injuring myself. (It's usually bursitis on the knee, I'm prone to that anyway as my knees are a bit weirdly constructed - Osgood Schlatters.) I know that over-training is one of the main causes of injury, so I've been following proper training plans, but now I live in fear of pushing myself, when I think I probably need to just get over that psychological barrier and get on with it. Any tips? I've got an excellent Pilates teacher who's done some work with me to stretch out my hamstrings and other muscles that pull on the knee and that seems to have helped, it's just getting my head back in the game that seems to be the issue.

Thank you, and thanks for writing such an entertaining book!

Am not around for the webchat but wanted to thank you for the book,I loved it and credit you with getting me back into running after a 5 year/2 kids hiatus.

I wondered if you had any tips for keeping motivated? I love running when I actually get out there but can always find a reason NOT to go out unless I'm in training for a race. Is there any way I can stay on track without the threat of public humiliation to motivate me?

MrsLoada Thu 27-Feb-14 07:40:07

Total newbie to running have just started doing the c25k , what's the best tip/ advice for a newbie I'm just running in £15 trainers are these ok or should I invest in some .thanks

AugustaAdaByron Thu 27-Feb-14 08:31:06

Hi Alex I downloaded your book yesterday as I am looking for motivation to start running.

I was shock about your chapter on pioneering American women in the 1960s and 1970s who "gatecrashed" men's distance races and proved that women.can.run ....

I think the fact that women were told they couldn't run so recently is bizarrely the motivational push I need!

Anyway my Q "What is the history of British women distance running did they follow the American women's lead or were they allowed in women's races sooner?"

How great that you have a chapter on this grin.

Notmorelego Thu 27-Feb-14 12:28:06

Hi Alex

I have been running for two years now and am doing my second half marathon this weekend. I loved your book and it really helped keep me motivated. I just want to increase my stamina - I get so cross that after 2 years I can't run any faster than a ten minute mile. I run about 20 miles a week in a very hilly area so I really think I should see some improvement. I keep telling myself the only race is against myself and I'm only running for me etc but then I see other people posting their pbs and feel demoralised. Did you ever feel that way?

HuffPuffPant Thu 27-Feb-14 12:54:36

Hi Alex,

Thanks for coming in - loved your book!

I've only recently started running, but am chuffed with myself as I recently ran 5 k, something I didn't know I could do! I'm currently debating signing up for a 10 k run but keep chickening out and doubting myself. How do you know when you're ready to do a big race like that?

Also, cheeky second question - how do I get better at hills? I'm worried the answer is, "run up more hills!"

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 27-Feb-14 12:58:30

Alex is here and geared up to answer your Qs. Welcome to mumsnet Alexandra Heminsley

AlexandraHeminsley Thu 27-Feb-14 12:58:45

Hello! I am here at Mumsnet, at a desk with TWO pairs of muddy trainers underneath it (props?). But I've stretched & warmed up my fingers and am ready to answer as many questions as I can... A x

AlexandraHeminsley Thu 27-Feb-14 13:01:55

EauRouge

Thanks for this, MNHQ thanks

Hello, Alex,

I've got my first half marathon in a week and I'm a bit nervous about it (not least because I've only just found out there's a 2:30 time limit). Any tips for coping with race day nerves? Should I just plan puking breaks for the first couple of miles?

Thank you.

Hello! OMG good luck with your first half - I am sure you will be fine. I find it so nerve wracking on race day morning so I do try to eat really nerdily well the night before (slow release carbs like brown rice etc). Also, I lay everything out the night before (including safety pins! And a pen !) Mostly, allow for the face that EVERYONE is nervous, there will ALWAYS be some pushy people at the start and you are doing something AMAZING!

After a mile or so, once people have spread out a bit and you've found your pace, you can spend the rest of the race planning your massive lunch/long bath/epic pedicure. xxx

KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 27-Feb-14 13:02:08

Hi Alex!

I'm currently psyching myself to go out for a run in my lunch hour as the other members of the MNHQ running club have flaked out on me, naming no names <cough> AmyMumsnet <cough>. To be fair she did run 6 k yesterday...

AlexandraHeminsley Thu 27-Feb-14 13:05:27

AmberNectarine

Hi Alexandra

I loved your book and found it incredibly inspiring. It was nice to read something about running that wasn't penned by someone who was an elite athlete to start with!

I have a couple of 10ks and a half lined up this year, but I am struggling with my endurance. What are your top tips for improving stamina?

Thanks!

Hello! do you mean stamina as in ability to go further? If so, the only answer is ... to try and go a bit further. Just half a kilometre or something like that - round the block once more? And then again the next day..?

It is hard, because your head gets used to doing a certain distance, how it feels, how much tiredness you can cope with afterwards if you have to work/get stuff done/look after kids etc. But if you just try a little ... then a little more, you'll find you might be surprising yourself a couple of times a week.

Failing that, do some strength exercises. Squats, lunges, all the grim ones. Get your legs STRONG so that they hurt less when you're on your feet for longer.

I suspect that what you need to train the most is your head (like me)... But if it's speed you're after when you talk about stamina, then the way to get faster is to do short sprints, hills, that kind of thing.

Hope it helps, let me know! xx

CMOTDibbler Thu 27-Feb-14 13:09:29

Hi Alexandra, I bought your book last year, and really enjoyed it. Like others, I found your discussion of how women weren't allowed to run marathons inspiring.

Since I started running last May (aged 40) I've met some fabulous women - especially the 68 year old lady who competes in triathlon! I did my first HM in September, and have another in 3 weeks and my first tri in May <gulp>

Who has inspired you most, and what challenge are you working towards next?

AlexandraHeminsley Thu 27-Feb-14 13:10:48

sybilfaulty

Hi Alexandra

I loved your book - thank you.

I have done C25K 3 times and failed to keep going every time once I had completed it. I also could never do 5k in 30m, more like 33-35. Where am I going wrong? When will I get the runner's thrill? I really want to love it as it would be such a handy way of keeping fit (unlike swimming, which I love but which takes ages) but no joy so far.

Thanks

Thank you re the book!!

But ... I can BARELY do 5k in more than 30m, so as far as I'm concerned you're doing fiiiiiine!! Seriously, you are being harsh on yourself. I do 5k a few times a week and there's usually a bumbly 'head in the clouds, staring at the sea, thrashing out some thoughts' one that takes over 30ish, one that's about 30 and then if I go NUTS at parkrun i can do 28ish. So seriously, just relax!

(If you're after official training tips though, sprinting does make you faster. You have to face the cringe factor of going to the park and BLASTING out 100m about 8 or 10 times until you think you might die, and you will boost your cardio vascular system rather than just your muscular one)

If it's 'runner's thrill' you're after, take a look at what you are running for. Do you want to feel thin? Speedy? Get out of the house for it? Achieve distance goals? Either way - every time you leave the house and raise your heart rate you are pumping lovely fresh oxygenated blood around your system, making your bones stronger, making your chances of being able to bend down and reach the remote when you're older bigger, and all sorts of other lovely things. I suggest just being a bit kinder to yourself all round! xx

feetheart Thu 27-Feb-14 13:11:55

Hello and thanks for coming.
I have just bought your book on the strength of the blog I read on here but haven't read it yet so sorry if you have covered this but my question is about the step from half marathon to the full 26.2 miles. How big is it really in terms of training, commitment, family life, etc? I have done two half marathons and almost enjoyed them but the longer distance still daunts me.

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