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With the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown resulting in gyms and team sports being unavailable, many people began to take up jogging in an attempt to maintain or improve their fitness. One of the regular questions we are asked at Fire & Earth Sports Massage is how much beginners should be running. 
The answer to this question all depends on the level of fitness you’re starting from. It’s best to start with shorter, easier runs and allow your body to adapt to the new stresses placed on it to minimise the risk of injury. 
The main thing to think about is frequency, duration/ distance, and intensity 
How many days a week am I going to run? 
How far or for how long am I going to run? 
How fast am I going to run? 
To start with we would recommend three days a week as this allows the time for the body to rest and recover fully after each run. This also gives time to add runs in the future as your fitness improves. 

Start with short runs gradually adding time or distance in. 

A really good way of starting is to gently jog for one minute and walk for a minute. Do this ten times. As your fitness improves, increase the time spent running and decrease the walking time, for instance, run for 70 seconds and walk for 50. Eventually you will be running for 20 minutes without stopping. 
When you reach this milestone start to add two minutes on to one of the runs and gradually build up the duration of this run. On one of the other runs try and run slightly further each time which means increasing your pace. 
Once you feel comfortable you can think about adding an extra run per week. 
Initially finding the best pace for you can be difficult. Being slightly out of breath is normal but you should not be gasping for air. Normally I would recommend being able to hold a conversation but with social distancing rules this is more difficult! Breathing will become easier as you go along, resulting in you being able to run at faster paces. Always try to enjoy running as you are more likely to continue with it if you do. 
Other considerations to think about are... 

What shoes should I wear? 

A really important part of staying injury-free is wearing the correct running shoes for your gait. 
Normally we would recommend visiting a local running shop to have a gait analysis to have the right shoes for you. 
If you’d prefer to shop online, most online retailers have advice on shoe buying. For example sportshoes.com has a guide on using the wet footprint test to guide your shoe choice. Check the company’s return policy, as you may need to send them back if they don’t fit. Allow a thumb width between your toes and the end of the shoes to give room for your feet to expand during running. 

How to warm up and cool down 

Warming up and cooling down are also very important in reducing the risk of injury. 
Warming up prepares your muscles and cardiovascular system for exercise by raising your heart rate and increasing the temperature in your muscles. For some more advice on warming up read this article. 
Cooling down and some stretching will reduce the amount of pain you may feel after your run and increase your recovery time between runs. For a more detailed look at cooling down check out our blog on our website

What stretches should I do? 

Stretching after exercise returns our muscles to their correct length, improves flexibility and range of movement at joints. Using stretching as part of your cool-down helps to eliminate lactic acid from the muscles, again reducing pain in the days following exercise. A simple stretching routine for after your run can be found here

Sports massage works well in the prevention of injury. 

If you would prefer an online session, your therapist at Fire & Earth can help you with virtual massage sessions, guiding you through self-massage, exercise and stretching sessions to keep you in peak condition through the lockdown. 
To book your appointment, contact us on info@fireandearthuk.com or contact your therapist, here
Enjoy your running and we look forward to seeing you soon. 
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