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When is it too cold to run outside? Is it possible to stretch too much? Is all that running gear really necessary?

Expert Dave Scott-Thomas, the running coach to Canada's top marathoners and Amberly McAteer, a web editor who needs help sorting out her love/hate relationship with running, took your questions.

When is it too cold to run outside? Is it possible to stretch too much? Is all that running gear really necessary?

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Expert Dave Scott-Thomas, the running coach to Canada's top marathoners and Amberly McAteer, a web editor who needs help sorting out her love/hate relationship with running, took your questions.

Below is the transcribed text from the live discussion

Amberly McAteer: Welcome to today's running discussion! Joining is Dave Scott Thomas, runner extraordinaire and trainer to some of Canada's top marathoners

Dave Scott-Thomas: Hi from Guelph everyone!

Amberly McAteer: I came out with a rather embarrassing fact in Monday's paper - I've signed up, but haven't showed up, for three 10K races..

Dave - any psychological advice off the bat for runners who need some motivation?

Dave Scott-Thomas: This is part of your love/hate relationship I guess, Amber. Why haven't you shown up for your races?

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Amberly McAteer: Everyday stuff gets in the way of the training sked that I'm so determined to keep up with at the beginning.. I lose motivation quite easily when time is already so limited

Jason: I'm training for a 10k. Is it better to work towards running that distance - and then work on improving my time?

Matt_OMX: Amberly - what I like to do (when possible) is pick up the bib, swag bag, timing chip etc the day before the event. That way you're committed to showing up!

Dave Scott-Thomas: sorry, had to reboot.

Dave Scott-Thomas: Amberly, I suggest you try to make it more social. Find a group and bring in some support. Have friends who can keep you accountable to your goals.

Dave Scott-Thomas: Jason, I'd suggest you gently try to bring you distance up so you know you can handle 10km, and then look at bringing your times down. Consistency of training is more important than intensity.

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Amberly McAteer: Thing is, I sort of hate running with people - strangers for sure, but friends most of all. no one ever runs my exact pace, and I find it really difficult not to get caught up in the comparison game.. (more on this in a column coming in a few weeks!).. But I digress.

Steph Steph: I frequently get shin splints (in my left leg). Is it better to stop and stretch or "run it out"?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Comparison's are tough for sure. So....even if you don't run with friends (but the pace does not matter so much, fyi, you'll get a benefit from a wide range) rbing them into your loop in terms of goals.

Miguel: Hello, I heard many things about stretching before running and would like to know your thoughts on that.

Dave Scott-Thomas: Steph, you wont be able to stretch shin splints out. If you have persistent discomfort, I'd suggest you see a physio, and take a few days of cross-training. Some ice and a mild anit-inflam should help.

Dave Scott-Thomas: Good q Miguel,

Amberly McAteer: @Miguel - we have a great piece on when to stretch (the coach says to always stretch warm muscles)

Dave Scott-Thomas: I don;t think you need to stretch a ton before running. Most of us begin our runs fairly gently and that is gentle dynamic strecthing in itself. I generally advocate such dynamic stretching using legs swings and then use static stretching post-run.

Dave Scott-Thomas: Agreed, Amberly. There are more benefits from flexibility work on warm muscles.

Amberly McAteer: Jason - we have a bunch of training programs for a 10K, depending on your skill level.. (i'm braving the intermediate - it's no picnic)

Ryan: Hi Dave, I'm a beginner and was just wondering if you would recommend a plan of some sort or just maybe run unitl you get tired and then try and stretch it out each time out?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Ryan, Amberly has provided a link to a plan, which would be of use. I find that having something laid out provides a structure that is useful for most people.

Amberly McAteer: Ryan - welcome to the crazy world of running. It's rewarding, but i've found there are some serious road bumps. So far, the training programs i linked to above have been helpful for me (a reluctant runner, to say the least)

Mandy K.: Amberly - I've also had a love-hate relationship with running. Did a 5 km run and signed up for the 10 km run and didn't complete training - this year I've been doing clinics with the running room and found that running with the group made the biggest difference! And because it's scheduled, I had no excuse :)

Amberly McAteer: @Mandy - that's amazing. Congrats! I tried the running room groups - but (no surprise here) ended up dropping out of two of them.. I just couldn't get into the idea of running with strangers - and having them coming to 'scoop' me just wasn't enjoyable

Mark Steinacher: My problem is with my lungs. My legs are fine; I can walk 40K. My GP tells me my heart is fantastic; my age and resting heart-rate are both 53. When I run, my breathing gets laboured after the first kilometre or two and I have to stop running until I get my breath back. Are there specific exercises to build lung capability?

Liza Liza: I am training for a half marathon and can't always run outside because of ice/snow but I find the treadmill much easier to run on. Do you have any treadmill settings to recommend that may make it more similar to running outside?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Mark, Have you tried doing a bit of running and then walking? You could do a light run for 2' and then walk for another, or take longer walking breaks and gradually build up.

Dave Scott-Thomas: Liza, are you running your treadmill on an incline? Do you vary the pace at all?

Amberly McAteer: @Liza - great question. I love the treadmill (when the ground moves for me, I'm a happy girl) but I find outdoor running is much more challenging/entertaining.. Have you tried getting the right clothing for winter running?

Linz: Dave, I have no problem doing distance runs, even ones where I am trying to improve my overall pace or time, but I find it really hard to get motivated and complete different types of sets within my run. Do you have any motivational suggestions or it is okay to just continue this distance based running with the aim of improvement?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Linz, If you really enjoy the just running distance that's ok. Your body will adapt to the stimulus and you will be at a good level fop fitness. In order to get more fit (if that is your goal) you'll need to bring in some variety. This could be as simple as running 4-5 "strides" one or two teims per wek - jsut 80-100m where you go faster than your regular run pace. You migth also find motivation through a group, or bringing in music. The Clash always gets me going!

Court: VibramFiveFinger shoes for "barefoot" running - any thoughts? Has anyone tried them?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Vibrams are ok for strides after your run but I recommend you don't do much long running in them and stick to soft surfaces as much as possible.

Pete: Dave- you have had great success with guys moving up from shorter track runners to the marathon, what advice do you have as I have raced many 5&10k races but look to maybe run a marathon

Liza: Amberly - I saw an article on running outside in the winter but haven't had a chance to read it. My main problem is how slippery it is on the ice/snow filled sidewalks. Are there any shoes particularly good for winter running?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Pete, We took a long-term approach and gently increased volume over some months. We also shifted the amount of energy system work they were doing since I think most marathoners run too short and too fast in training.

Chris: Hey Dave, do you know protein requirements for runners? I've read most papers by Tarnopolsky from MacMaster, but nothing seems definitive. Specifically, I'm 5'11", weigh 88kg, and normally average 4:00/km on easy runs.

Dave Scott-Thomas: Liza, You can get shoes with more tread on them that help, but I agree there are days when it is slippery and you're safer cross-training.

Amberly McAteer: yes, absolutely - I only run outdoors in the winter when the sun is shining and the sidewalks are clear. (yesterday in Toronto was a perfect day for a job - freezing cold but really beautiful)

Amberly McAteer: and I probably don't go nearly as far as you do - but the running mitts, those special winter running tops, and a little toque are key

Matt_OMX: Thanks for the answer Dave and high-five on listening to the Clash!

Dave Scott-Thomas: Chris, I'd have to go dig the specifics out of my files. For our elites we normally run specific programs under the guidance of our nutritionist Dr Trent Stellingwerff

Rue: Hello Dave and Amberly - would you have any advice on nutrition (i.e. what to eat before or after a run)?

Dave Scott-Thomas: High-five back Matt!

Amberly McAteer:

Great question, Rue - I'll leave it to the expert (I'm always starving after a run and try my best not to eat everything in the fridge... )

Peter: Dave, thanks for all the advice. Any insight into why running shoes cost so much more in Canada compared to the US, and what can we do to fix it? I hate to pay Running ROom $139 + tax when I can get the same shoes in the US at half the price. Thanks.

Dave Scott-Thomas: Rue, Three hours out try to get in some complex carbs (bagel etc) with a bit of protein. Closer to you can take in some fluids since they'll abosrb faster. Post-run, get in some fluids within 15-20' and then move to some carb-based solids within 60'.

Jenn N: Dave, I live in windy, slushy, cold (but awesome!) Atlantic Canada. Any advice for braving the slushy sidewalks this time of year? I'm having a hard time getting myself out of the gym/ treadmill and outside in the 4 inches of slush on the sidewalks in Cape Breton! Any advice?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Chris, here is a link to an article by Dr Stellingwerff on protein intake. Hialry is an elite athlete in our group:

Dave Scott-Thomas: Hi jenn, I don't think you need to get outside in those conditions! The gym and treadmill are fine for a few weeks. Just keep your routine going!

Jenn N.:

Thanks Dave, now I feel less guilty about wimping out on the outdoor runs and gym-ratting it up! :)

Heather: After a long hiatus from running, I started a learn to run program in January. I've been building up to my current distance of 4k and everything has been fine until this past week when a foot injury resurfaced. I've had to stop running for the time being and am waiting to have it looked at. What type of training do you suggest to help preserve my conditioning?

Dave Scott-Thomas: No need to feel guilty at all Jenn. You're doing better than most of the population!

Dave Scott-Thomas: Anything that keeps you working in about the same pulse range will be fine, Heather. I find variety makes it more interesting so fi you can mix between bike, swimming or pool running, elliptical, erg etc

Amberly McAteer: Dave - I have a question about stretching after a run. Seems no matter what I do, my hips/outer thighs kill the day after.. I've been told it's an IT band issue, common in runners (which secretly makes me happy to be considered a runner).. Any tips for this pain?

Guest: can you get ready for a half marathon in 10 weeks?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Amberly, The IT band is a tough piece of tissue to stretch and it can take a while to see the benefits, but it is worth doing. You migth invest in a foam roller to help you work on it, and a good massage therapist will help you strip out the adhesions as well.

Rue: Thanks very much Dave. I feel the same way Amberly after a run, but it's all about will power

Dave Scott-Thomas: Guest, it depends on where you're starting from and what your end goal is. If you're reasonably fit and are aiming to simply complete the distance, the answer is yes.

Catherine Laflamme: I just began running again, after a couple of months of other activities, and after a week, I found I had a pain right where the calf muscle meets the bone, on the inside of my leg. Any suggestions of what it might be, or how I could stretch it out?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Catherine, I'd defer to a good physio on that one. There are a number of things it could be depending on whether your pain is in the muscle, the bone and where along your calf.

Alie Alie: I am also interested in anything on how to stretch out an IT band. As I increase my distance, they seem to get more sore as I go. Any suggestions would be appreciated

Miguel: I have, another question for you. I have been running half marathons for a few years, but would like to run a full marathon eventually. My time is around 1:55. How do I begin to train for the full? Do I keep the same speed?

Dave Scott-Thomas: Alie, Kind of hard to describe with my limited tpying skills :). Here's one: lean into a wall with your shoulder, cross your outside leg over your inside and push your inside hip towards the wall. You should feel a gentle stretch in your IT as it crosses over your outside hip.

Amberly McAteer: Alie - here's the foam roller Dave mentioned (I'm going to buy one tonight - hope it helps..)

Dave Scott-Thomas: Miguel, you can go a bit more slowly and increase your time on your feet. Don't worry about the pace at first, just try to get your long run up in distance.

Dave Scott-Thomas: Right on, Amberly, and there is a picture of an IT stretch right there!

Amberly McAteer: That's all the time we have for today's discussion - Thanks Dave for the great advice! For videos, expert advice, nutrition tips - head to

Miguel Miguel: Thank you, Dave. Very useful tips!

Alie Alie:Thanks so much for the advice, now off to the gym for my run!

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