The dos and don'ts of running in a face mask: tips from a professional runner

UAE residents can now exercise outside as long as they are wearing a mask. Here is what you need to know...

Lee Ryan, captain of Adidas Runners Dubai, shares his tips for running in a face mask. Courtesy Lee Ryan
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After weeks spent indoors, residents across the UAE are now able to go outside to exercise.

However, anyone heading out for a run or brisk walk is still required to wear a mask at all times, as part of ongoing measures to stem the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

While running in a face mask might be a tad unpleasant, it is a necessity for anyone wanting to take their exercise outside, and there are a few things you should consider before trying it.

Take time to get used to the feeling

“A lot of people have been asking me how to run in a mask, and it’s just one of those things that we will all need to get used to,” says Lee Ryan, captain of Adidas Runners Dubai.

Ryan, who has been spending his time at home running marathons and ultra-marathons in his back garden, went for his first mask-on run over the weekend.

"Even for someone like me, it's a new running experience and it takes some getting used to," he told The National. "Thinking about how to wear it, where it rubs... you wouldn't run a marathon in a new pair of shoes, you've got to break them in and get used to it, and it's the same with this situation."

Slow things down

Not only will runners need to get used to running with something covering their mouths, for many people, this will be the first time they will have been able to get out for a run in a month, meaning their fitness levels are likely to have been impacted.

"People’s biggest problem is that they are assuming they can run how they used to run before this, and like anything, they will need to build themselves back up," Ryan says. "My advice to everyone is to get out, enjoy the freedom of being able to run again, but just slow it all down."

Don't fight it 

Ryan also advises runners not to get too caught up on the fact they are wearing a mask, no matter how irritating it might feel at times.

"Try not to have the mentality of fighting it, don’t hate that you’re wearing it, otherwise your body will start to panic and the anxiety will kick in," he says. "Get used to it, get used to how it feels and regulate your breathing."

Don't get caught up with the numbers

"Just take it easy, especially because it is quite hot, that temperature is [picking] up quite quickly. If you need to take a breath, just stop and take a deep breath," he says.

"Walk and slow it down when you need to. The important thing is not to justify a good or a bad run by a watch, just take 30 minutes, take yourself outside, enjoy the health benefits mentally and physically.

Don't worry about your splits or pace too much right now, he says, just "take this opportunity to enjoy running for what it is."