Important Facts About Social Distancing and Running
With coronavirus COVID-19 infections rising exponentially, many states are taking drastic measures to slow its spread. At least four states have already begun ordered lockdown or shelter-in-place directives, effectively closing all non-essential businesses and requiring those that do not have to work to stay home. So, how will all this affect your running plans?
Exercise is Essential to Maintain Good Health
Unlike this virus and subsequent social distancing, one thing everyone can agree upon is that exercise is an important way to maintain your health. Regular exercise, including runs, can boost your immune system, help you get better sleep, and allow you to better manage stress—a must during this outbreak. Outdoor running or walking offers the added benefit of allowing your body to synthesize Vitamin D.
These benefits are fundamental in keeping your immunity on its toes during this outbreak, so continuing with your exercise is a must. Since most communities recognize that exercise is a vital part of maintaining mental and physical health, it is one thing that is actually recommended right now.
Social Distancing and the Runner
As we all know, COVID-19 spreads from human to human in respiratory droplets. We have been warned to wash our hands and not to touch our faces. A true runner knows that these two things are especially hard to do while in the middle of a run. Forget the fact that there are few hand washing stations on most jogging paths, and consider that noses run, sweat drips in eyes, and most of us become respiratory droplet-spewing mouth-breathers at least by mid-run.
You can probably see how important it is for runners to maintain social distance. Even quickly passing someone on a path (“on your left!”) could pass the virus between individuals. This simply means you must add a few precautions to your routine in order to safely continue it. Read on for some great tips to make your runs as safe as possible.
How to Practice Social Distancing by Running
Social distancing is all the rage these days, and means that in order to control the spread of this virus, we should maintain at least six-feet of space between individuals in public spaces. For those who live in rural areas, this probably does not change your routine much at all. However, for those of us sharing jogging paths or trails, we must find a way to separate.
How to practice social distancing by running is not going to be difficult for most runners. If you do not already, go on your runs alone. You do not need a required number of people to participate in a run, like most other organized sports. Clubs of runners who meet regularly and run together will probably face the biggest challenge and may have to postpone or spread out their activities.
If you absolutely must run with a buddy who is not a part of your immediate family, simply put some distance between yourselves. Granted, you will probably not be able to maintain any type of conversation this way, but safety first.
Virtual Running and Virtual Races
Virtual running is gaining in popularity, and it is one way to keep up on your runs in a competitive way. Simply sign-up for a virtual race, a race that you run wherever and whenever you want. A virtual race can even be completed on your treadmill. Once you have finished, make note of your time and upload it to the race event. You can find virtual races in varying distances including one-mile children’s races, so you can include the family.
Where to run During a Lockdown
Prior to setting out on your run, you may want to do some research to see where you are allowed to run. State and local parks have been closing for the duration in certain areas, so you may need to run in a new location. It seems that most dedicated multi-use trails remain open and can be used if social distance is kept. With many people staying home, you will find public roadways and their decrease in traffic are ideal for runners.
Of course, if you own a treadmill, now might be its time to shine. We would still recommend getting out into the fresh air as often as you can to avoid cabin fever, but sometimes weather will prevent that.
Tips for Runners During the COVID-19 Outbreak
We will close with a few ideas on how to remain safe on your runs during this time. Overall, it is important to keep up on any fitness routine to stay healthy even if you have to tweak it some.
- Wear sweat bands on your head and wrists to keep from having to wipe sweat from the face
- Carry a small antibacterial gel in your inner pocket just in case
- Do not use community water fountains, carry your own hydration
- Run popular routes at off-peak times
- If you run on roads, make sure to run opposite of traffic
- Assume everything on your run is contaminated including benches, stop-light crossing buttons and railings and do not touch them
- Whether walking, hiking or running be aware of hazards that may cause serious injury (the ER is the last place we want to be if we do not have to)