#AskCoachCourtney: Can I run outside during the COVID-19 pandemic?

#AskCoachCourtney: Can I run outside during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The short answer: Yes…

…with caution.

I’ve been giving my athletes five tips to follow as they embark on outdoor running during this challenging time. Here are my top five tips!

TIP #1: Avoid crowded areas, parks, and trails.

I know this is tough for a lot of us. I was looking forward to logging miles in our local metro park that is only about a mile from my house. I have gone once so far, and I barely made it before I turned around and decided to run back home and through our neighborhood.

Now…a lot of these so-called “studies” that state runners should be 33 feet apart are kinda bogus if you look at the methodology. It is nearly impossible to stay even six feet apart, though, in a crowded area. My advice to you is to simply avoid these areas right now (as much as we want to run in them!).

Stick to your neighborhood or another area that is not flooded with people. Remember that with many states locked down under a shelter-in-place/stay-at-home order, people are limited in their choice of activities. They’re (understandably) looking to get out of the house. They will go to the parks. Avoid the parks for now, and avoid the BS studies that say you can sneeze on someone 33 feet away when you are running.

TIP 2: DO NOT — I repeat — DO NOT participate in or organize ANY kind of group run or workout.

Social distancing measures are put in place for those who cannot avoid leaving their home to go to work, run an errand, or complete another task that they absolutely must complete. People are asked to practice social distancing when they grocery shop, take care of others, etc.

Social distancing is not meant to promote “hanging out” six feet apart. I know that we see all these cutesy photos of people running together who are apparently spaced the appropriate distance apart, but this should not be a thing.

I know this is tough. Group runs are a fun way to meet new people and enjoy the sport together. However, group runs are not safe right now. If you are going to run, you need to run solo. If you’re running with someone else who is a member of your household, that is obviously different — but otherwise, do not run together. That isn’t the point of social distancing.

TIP 3: Plan routes that promote social distancing from others walking their dogs or jogging in your neighborhood.

You’re bound to see someone at some point when you’re running through your neighborhood. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run, but it does mean you need to leave room for courtesy and to follow the social distancing guidelines outlined by the CDC and individual states.

  • DO plan a route where roads are not busy so you can quickly move to the other side of the street if a pedestrian is walking on the same path in the opposite direction.
  • DO plan a route that includes side streets so that you can protect yourself. Not everyone is as careful — if you hear someone running behind you who isn’t moving to the other side of the street, move to a side street until that person passes.
  • DO NOT come neck-in-neck with someone cutting their grass or doing yard work. MOVE!

TIP 4: Bring a small towel with you.

If you’re not a runner, here’s something fun about us: We spit hockers a lot while running. It’s just part of the sport. If you are a runner, you know this all too well. We also sweat!

Bring a small towel with you to wipe your runny nose during spring allergies, sneeze into directly, and wipe the sweat from your forehead and any other areas. Keep the fluids to yourself. Is it harmful to spit on the road when no one is around? It would probably be fine considering how the disease mainly spreads (direct contact person-to-person), but now is not the time to split hairs. Be considerate!

TIP 5: Do not feel obligated to wear a mask while running alone away from everyone else*

*If your state government allows it. Ohio suggests wearing masks when out running errands, but the state has not placed any order in place that requires people walking their dog or running alone to wear face masks.

BUT…but…if, for some reason, you see a group of people coming toward you and you cannot get away, have a mask with you and throw that sucker on. Oh, and keep your eye on groups. If your planned route seems to be a hot spot for groups of people, cross it off the list and find a new one.

PS: Make sure your mask includes a PR or distance. I plan to make one that says “26.2” because even when socially distancing, people should be aware that I ran a marathon.

I hope these help! Please reach out with any questions or additional tips!



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