In times like these, when we’re spending more time at home than ever before, it’s important to get outside — safely — as much as we can. We are all eager to get back to our usual exercise routines, and with gyms still closed in many states, running outdoors has become the best way to get that endorphin rush that boosts physical and mental health.
Here are some tips to enjoy running safely in the era of COVID-19:
- Follow all of the standard COVID mitigation guidelines, including:
- Don’t run if you feel sick.
- Wear a mask. There are many breathable options these days, from neck gaiters to masks specifically designed for sports. If you don’t like a mask, then plan accordingly to run in a secluded area or very early in the morning when you won’t encounter other people.
- Maintain a social distance. As runners we need to regain some credibility with our fellow walkers and general pedestrians. There has been a lot of talk lately about disrespectful runners making others feel uncomfortable. Represent our amazing running community well by being considerate.
- Run with your social pod and only those in your household.
- Take the road less traveled. These days all of the great running paths are packed with the COVID-generated running boom. Find a route that’s not the obvious by the lake or through the park path where you’ll see everyone else. A helpful way to find a new course is to use the Find Route function in RunGo.
- Your pre-running checklist before you leave the house looks a little different these days. Shoes — check. Keys — check. Phone/Fitness tracker — check. Hydration — check. Mask — check. Hand sanitizer — check. Don’t forget to bring along a little hand sanitizer for your run. Don’t let the mental space for your run get distracted because you had to touch a surface along the way.
- Pace yourself. Yes, actually pace yourself, if you’re new to running. Too much too quickly and you’ll injure yourself or burn out your motivation. On the other hand, if you’re already a runner, don’t beat yourself up if you miss that double-digit run you usually do every Saturday. It’s ok. We’re living a new schedule. As we’re all being flexible in how we manage life in the pandemic our running schedule has to be able to flex as well.
- Find a race/run that has adapted to the constraints of COVID. A number of events have begun to pop up that are specifically working to address how to provide a race setting during the pandemic. New York Road Runners is testing an event with rolling start times. Other local run clubs are taking runner temperatures and checking in social running pods. Or participate in a virtual race through Strava. There are many options to help you tap into this amazing running community. Join the 5x5K FOR GOOD event. It’s contactless, app-guided, and completely safe. This is no “virtual” run — you’re actually running five 5Ks in 24 hours.
Remember, all of the benefits we get from running, especially the mental benefit. Getting outside beyond our own four walls (are we working from home, or living at work?) to see nature and have a socially distanced view of other people provides perspective. Fitness lowers stress and benefits our immune systems.