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Running During Coronavirus

Part of my certification requirement to be a RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) running coach was to agree to uphold a code of ethics, which covered not only my behavior when coaching, but also as a positive representative of the running community and an example to both runners and to non-runners alike. It basically boiled down to "don't be a dick". It was an easy oath to take because I generally try not to be a dick in other areas of my life, too. 

Some local social networks like Nextdoor and my parent forum have been singling out runners as being "the worst!"potential spreaders of coronavirus. Although I think it's unfair to lop us all into one enemy category, I also understand that 1. People are afraid. 2. Some runners are inconsiderate. I think we all have room to grow in the area of being less of a dick, but I'll speak to runners specifically, because I know we're all just trying to preserve our sanity by going out for a run and I, like all of us, will crumble if restrictions are put on outdoor exercising. 

So here are some simple things we can do to keep ourselves and others safe and happy while running outdoors during these strange Covid times.

  • WEAR A MASK. It's the responsible thing to do. It makes everyone feel safer and makes you look like less of a dick. It's also not that unpleasant. In fact, it's much easier to breath through a covering when you're running and creating a breeze to inhale than it is to wear one while walking around. I use a cotton/spandex neck muff that I safety pin in back to keep it snug so I don't have to keep adjusting it.

  • Wearing a hat and/or glasses helps to keep your face covering in place and offers you added protection.

  • Pro tip: make sure you've brushed your teeth at some point before donning your mask and running. It's really gross to inhale your own bad breath, especially morning breath! 

  • Wash your face covering regularly.

  • Run in the street if you can! There's so little traffic on the roads and you won't have to worry about dodging people. Run in the lane facing traffic ONLY IF there is ample room to do so. Many main avenues near me have a good 4 feet of space between parked cars and oncoming traffic that I stick to. Or I run in the bike lane.

  • Find side streets and sidewalks that aren't busy. Avoid the main walking streets; allow people who aren't as agile and fit as you to occupy these wider/busier walkways. 

  • Public parks are overrun with people right now, so maybe stay clear. Don't clog up popular walking areas that old people and parents pushing strollers use to get fresh air. We can run anywhere, some populations are limited to how far they can go. 

  • Incorporate safety into your training! Fartlek/sprint past people (giving them a wide berth), or keep criss-crossing the street (SAFELY) to avoid them. You are in good shape and able to move around people (your whole point of being out there running is to move, right?), so do it. Don't be a dick and run up on someone laden with groceries or using a cane, speeding past in a whoosh of your sweat and heavy breathing. Such a dick move.

  • Keep headphones on low--or leave them home altogether and enjoy the peace and quiet of your surroundings. Car traffic has been extra crazy in NYC--blowing through red lights like they don't exist and going way above the normal speed, so be extra careful, especially if running in the streets and be aware of your surroundings. 

  • Don't run with one or multiple friends, forcing others have to weave out of your way. You can rejoin your running buddy/group once this is over. Until then, don't be dicks.

  • Last week an unsubstantiated simulation (note: NOT a scientific study) suggesting runners' droplets of sweat/saliva were a major threat to people even 30 feet behind them went viral. Lots of people have read it and are now terrified of you and your droplets. They don't want a hard-breathing, sweaty runner anywhere near them. So although the article turned out to be bull, the fear is real and we don't need to amp it up. Avoid other people while running. And, maybe don't run downwind of another runner who is not wearing a face covering. 

  • If you want to be extra cautious, strip at the door and toss your clothes & face covering in the wash right away. Shower immediately. Keep your shoes outside.

Whether you're a runner or not, keep in mind that many people are very nervous right now, and for reasons that we'll never know. We can all practice not being a dick along with our social distancing and disinfecting. We are so lucky that we CAN run, that we CAN breathe well and move our bodies, so let's be considerate of others in gratitude of our physical health. 

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