Running is a great form of exercise. It tones the body and clears the mind. This healthy form of recreation requires little investment except perhaps for a good pair of running shoes — though in a pinch, a pair of old sneakers will do. You can jog or run practically anywhere and at any time: no gym fees required. Run alone or with a friend or a group.
It’s no wonder so many people love this simple form of recreation. What’s not to like? It seems the more you do it, the more you want to do it.
With the lockdowns occurring in many parts of the country because of the coronavirus, outdoor activities like running, hiking and bicycle riding have become even more popular. It’s one of the few ways left for many folks to get outside the home and get a respite from the problems of the world.
Although coronavirus can pose a few challenges for runners, it is generally safe to participate in this wonderful sport if you use common sense. Here are five tips for running outside during the coronavirus.
You may be wondering if it’s even legal to run outside during a shelter-in-place order. For nearly all states, regions and municipalities, the current answer is yes. Generally, government guidelines ask only that you take care so as not to spread or catch the novel coronavirus.
Among other things, that means not going for your daily run if you have a cough, sneeze or other symptoms of COVID-19. It also will mean keeping a “social distance” of at least six feet from other people you encounter while you are running. Of course, you should obey any signs or other indicators, like yellow police tape, showing that certain areas are off-limits to the public.
Wearing a Mask
To wear or not to wear: that is the debate we’re hearing from many runners. An easy rule of thumb: if you’re likely to encounter other folks, whether runners, pedestrians or cyclists, it’s probably a good idea to wear a mask.
Because your requirements for oxygen go up while running, use a mask that will enable you to breathe well. Some runners like to use neck gaiters pulled over the mouth and nose while they are working out to ensure adequate respiration.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has recommended people wear cloth masks when inside stores and when outside in crowded areas where it’s impossible to maintain a six-foot social distance from others. Besides protecting you from the coronavirus, a mask can guard those around you from the germs you exhale. Or course, if you wear a mask, you should make sure it is dry, clean and free of mucus, sputum and other materials that could cause infection.
Many experts suggest it’s smart to run alone rather than in pairs or groups while COVID-19 is a threat. If you’re worried about encountering aggressive dogs or assailants when running solo, you can take steps to protect yourself from this threat.
Dog pepper spray is a good deterrent against any canine that comes after you while you’re running. Besides protecting you from vicious canines, it can guard your dog against attacks if you’re running with your pet.
To ward off potential human threats, carrying pepper gels or pepper sprays is a good idea. Runner pepper gels are available with hand straps and arm bands. That way it will always be handy in case of emergency.
In addition, personal alarms can summon help in the event of an attack. In some cases, these alarms can even scare off assailants. Some runner’s alarms can be worn on the wrist for easy portability and access.
Taking it Easy
More than likely the coronavirus crisis has interrupted your regular training schedule. If you’re a regular gym-goer, you probably haven’t been able to work out with weights and machines for a while.
In all likelihood, your running routine has changed during the coronavirus crisis, too. As you would when getting back into training after any other kind of pause, make sure to get back into your running and exercise regimen slowly. Pushing yourself too hard in your first days back on the track, field or trail could cause soreness at best or worse, a serious injury.
Try to remember to enjoy yourself while you are running outdoors. Depending on where you run, it can be a great way to see and appreciate nature and the outdoors, even if you are only seeing some squirrels and pigeons in the park.
Running is also a smart way to leave any problems behind for a time and enjoy a little peace of mind. You will be surprised at how refreshed you’ll feel, mentally as well as physically, after you have gone outdoors and exercised. Studies have shown that running and other forms of exercise can be effective for dealing with anxiety and depression. With a little thought and preparation, you can still get outside and enjoy running safely.