Ask The DoctorM.
This is the summary of our ‘Ask The Doctor’ session at the inaugural #ukrunchat weekend in Anglesey, March 28th 2015.

Juliet is a GP that aims to help get normal people doing exercise by overcoming barriers that stop them from being active. Juliet is also a writer for ‘Womens Running Magazine’.

Benefits of Running

  • Running can help with weight control, which in turn, helps lower blood pressure & cholesterol.
  • There are many psychological benefits that come with running.
  • Most disease processes are about inflammation, such as Cancer, Heart Disease & Dementia. Running is anti-inflammatory. Any energy that is not used & stored causes excess free-radicals that are then free to cause damage.
  • Be Active! Make sure you do not stay sedentary for long, keep moving. If you stay active the 1st fat used is visceral fat which reduces the risk of diabetes; cancer etc. So even if you don’t see weight loss when running you are doing good things to your body. There is quite new research going on into this so it is a hot topic.

Cramps & Stitch

  • Electrolytes & hydration balance are vital to prevent these.
  • Have a massage and/or a good stretch before bed if you are prone to waking up with cramp.
  • Passive stretching (a form of static stretching in which an external force exerts upon the limb to move it into the new position).
  • If it happens during a run start to take a sports drink with you.
  • New runners are more prone to stitch. It can also be brought on by digestion or putting extra effort in.
  • A suggestion from the audience: Apparently if you push the bit between your mouth & nose this can help with stitch & prevent sneezing.


  • Use Vaseline or Bodyglide to prevent chaffing.
  • Use Sudocream or Bepanthen on chaffed areas.


  • Whether you need supplements or not depends on your diet. If your diet is good you shouldn’t need any.
  • If you have too much you will generally just pee it out.
  • Sufferers of knee arthritis should consider taking Glucosamine and, possibly Omega 3 oils.
  • A female runner’s biggest concern is Iron. Road runners & menstruating women are at a higher risk of Iron deficiency. Signs of Iron deficiency are fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations and, in extreme cases, hair loss. Consider taking Iron supplements, particularly women while menstruating and vegetarian women with a heavy period should take Iron daily.
  • Vitamin D is a hot topic at the moment but runners need not be too concerned as the time they spend outside all year round should give them a good supply.


  • If you have a long race planned and your period is due you can go to see your GP to get progesterone tablets to take for a few days so your period won’t come on for a few days.
  • If you want something longer term to stop periods discuss with your GP and look at hormonal methods.
  • Research shows that there is no difference as to how you perform throughout your cycle. Although many women would beg to differ and this is an area that is not well studied.
  • Generally just before your period you will feel crappy; on 3rd/4th day you’re at your best. Try doing intervals for the 1st half and endurance during the 2nd half.
  • Don’t hesitate to discuss this with your GP.
  • If you suffer from certain types of migraines you can’t take oestrogen.
  • Read more on this subject from Juliet here:


  • These can be common in long distance runners.
  • If you see blood go to see your GP.
  • They are caused by blood vessels near your anus and can feel like chaffing or like you’re passing broken glass.
  • They are fairly common & come from the pressure on your body from running or having a baby.
  • Speak to your pharmacist about some creams you can use to shrink the piles down and be very careful not to get constipated which will add to the pressure.

Bladders & Pelvic Floor
Leaking wee can be a major problem for women. Go & see your GP about it! There is help out there that can change your life. You can be referred to a physio or if necessary for surgery.

  • Does running cause weakness of the bladder? No – but it can reveal it.


  • If you need the toilet a lot from nerves not a whole lot can be done. If it causes you a major problem you could take imodium. Tweaking your diet can help with this.
  • It’s mainly adrenaline so try to calm yourself. Find ways to put yourself at ease, focus on something to keep calm.


  • Weather conditions can make this worse.
  • Try Beconase.
  • A lot of over the counter stuff also contains banned substances, including most decongestants. Speak to a pharmacist for advice.
  • If you are worried about banned substances refer to: or


  • Runners will often have a low resting pulse. What is normal? If you have no side effects & are feeling well don’t worry.
  • See a GP if you have dizziness; chest pain; palpitations; or shortness of breath.

Giving Blood

  • Give Blood- the NHS needs it! But when to give blood as a runner & how to recover?
  • It takes 6/8 weeks for full recovery from giving blood. You can start running after a couple of days if you feel ok but take it easy and don’t give blood if you have any big running planned in the following 6-8 weeks.

Other sources of info, other than your GP, are NHS choices, and runners world forums.

Don’t worry about going to see your GP. They are there to help and want you to exercise. Go & see them. Some of the audience suggested asking if any of the GPs at your practice were into running.

Look out for Juliet’s book with more advice & information out in 2016/2017.