Running from COVID-19: Beginners Guide to Running

The closure of public and private gyms and recreation facilities has created a “running boom” since it’s one of the easiest ways to get in some exercise under the new social and physical distancing protocols. You might think there’s really nothing to it; just lace up your kicks, switch on the iPod and go, right? WRONG.

If your goal is to actually take up running as a hobby, then do yourself a favour and don’t simply hit the pavement and run until you want to puke, or your legs give out. Sure, you totally could go do this, but your risk for injury would be high and would not likely lead you to a sustainable or enjoyable running routine. Seeing as we’ll be in this self-isolation situation for the unforeseeable future, you might as well do this the right way and actually make productive use of your newfound free time.

The real first step you need to take is to actually get fit before you run. Yes, you read that right. Before you run, you need to make sure your body is able to handle the impact of running. If you have been exercising regularly, doing your strength and mobility work and are injury free, then awesome, you should be good to go.

If you haven’t been consistent with strength work or exercise, or haven’t exercised ever, we wouldn’t recommend hitting the pavement before your body is actually in any physical shape to handle running. Running takes strength to push off and absorb the impact as you land, and if you don’t know how to control your body you are dramatically increasing your risk of injury.

Check out our blog on Strength Training for Runners to help you get strong before starting a running routine.

Once the body is ready for the impact of running the next step would be to invest in a decent pair of running shoes. Seriously. For the love of all that is Holy, DO NOT dust off those sneakers you’ve had sitting in your closet for the past decade. You don’t need top of the line, but a new pair of running shoes (not trainers or casual shoes) will make all the difference in how your body takes to your new pavement pounding hobby.

Okay, now that you’ve got your fresh and supportive kicks, and a strong and healthy body, it’s time to get outside. We have included a 6 Week Beginner Run Program at the end of this blog, but first please review these important tips.

Warm Up. Seriously.
“Serious runners” might scoff at you warming up by doing anything other than just running at a slower pace than normal, but that doesn’t mean you should skip your warm up too. Especially now, where most of the day is undoubtedly spent between the couch and an uncomfortable office chair, warming your body up is important.

Start Slow
If you want to enjoy more that the first 30 seconds of your run, take it out slow. Slower than you think you need to. If you’re new to exercise, you’ll learn quickly that you’ve got the most energy at the beginning and that fresh feeling fades through your workout. Those who are familiar with strength training can draw an analogy to energy levels during a lifting session. If you don’t want to burn out too quickly, take it easy in the beginning.

Start with Walk/Run Intervals
Sure, you could go out and run 30 minutes straight, but tomorrow walking might be an issue and long term that’s not sustainable. Start with 3-5 minutes run, 1 minute walk and increase your running time every other time you run. If your form breaks down, take a break and let your body recover by walking. If you lose your form doing squats usually you’d stop right? Running is no different; quality is always better than quantity.

Remember: It Will Get Easier
Whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer or new to exercise altogether, a new activity is always tough in the beginning. Hang in there. Before you know it, your runs will feel easier, your form will make it feel smoother, and you might even find you’re enjoying yourself on your run.

Practice Post-Run Self-Care
Be sure to give your muscles some TLC after exercising. Foam roll, stretch, and if you’re feeling fancy, treat yourself to a relaxing Epsom salt bath – you earned it!

PLEASE REMEMBER – when you are out there running, PLEASE adhere to the physical distancing protocols from health officials during this pandemic. We are in this together, so if you each give 3 feet, you will be 6 feet apart. Stay Healthy!

6 Week Beginner Run Program

Week 1:
2-3 runs 20 -30 minutes total – run 3-5 mins, walk 1 min

Week 2:
2-3 runs 25 – 35 minutes total – run 4-6 mins, walk 1 min

Week 3:
2-4 runs 30 – 40 minutes total – run 5-7 mins, walk 1 min

Week 4:
2-4 runs 30 – 40 minutes total – run 6-8 mins, walk 1 min

Week 5:
2-5 runs 35 – 4 5minutes total – run 7-9 mins, walk 1 min

Week 6:
2-5 runs 35 – 45 minutes total – run 8-10 mins, walk 1 min

*Keep in mind that the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines suggest AT LEAST 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week. This translates to 30 minutes 5 days per week to meet the minimum 150 minutes.