Masked Running – Yeah or Nah?

How does running with a mask impact your performance?

I’ve been a long distance runner for as long as I can remember. While I  love running on a treadmill, I do enjoy running outdoors. So when gyms closed and the ‘stay at home’ order was implemented in Los Angeles, I thought, “No, problem I strength indoors and I’ll get my cardio in by running outdoors.” 

I’ve been running 5-7 miles outdoors, two to three times per week since March 17th. I feel I have been doing a good job keeping distance between myself and other pedestrians while I’m running outside. Recently the mayor required all Angelenos to wear face covering when they leave the house to slow the spread of COVID-19. DREAD!

Since this order was executed, I’ve decreased my time running outdoors because frankly I don’t want to wear a mask while I run. For anyone who’s done it, you’ll know how uncomfortable it is. Masked running definitely takes getting used to because you have to work harder to get the same amount of air into the lungs. 

But running with a mask on is not a new phenomenon. Elevation training masks have long claimed to improve lung capacity and oxygen efficiency by simulating high-altitude conditions. In fact, running with a cloth face covering may have its benefits. Since your lungs have to work harder to get the same amount of air they are used, overtime this effort could strengthen your lungs and diaphragm giving your respiratory system a boost. 

“I hate that my mask gets damp when I run.” Yea, this sucks doesn’t it. What you can do is try nasal breathing as it expels less droplets than mouth breathing, which could keep your mouth drier. And bonus – your nasal pathways are designed to filter allergens and foregin bodies out of the air before they reach the lungs. 

Nasal breathing takes some getting used to,  and can become challenging as your intensity increases. If you are a serious runner, dedicated to your running routine, try practicing nasal breathing throughout the day and not just on runs so you can get used to the feeling. This way you’ll begin to condition the lungs for what they will experience during exercise. 


hello all!

Hello all! I’m Stephanie, a board certified registered dietitian, fitness professional and wellness coach. I would love to help you find a more holistic approach in achieving your health and wellness goals. By focusing on functional nutrition, exercise science and mental health, I’m able to help you optimize your health and wellbeing by looking at all aspects of your life, addressing factors such as nutrition, movement, stress, sleep, and relationships. My purpose is simple – to provide you accountability and support in your effort to maintain long-term healthy lifestyle changes.

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