Running is okay, just be smart about it

New stay-at-home orders in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. carve out exceptions for outdoor exercise, which includes running. I’m sure I’m not the only person breathing a sigh of relief.

It’s up to runners to be responsible with this. In the grand scheme of things, running in a group isn’t as likely as most social activities to promote transmission of the coronavirus, but considering the ground runners cover, it’s a high profile activity that I worry could easily be seen as nonessential. It’s low-hanging fruit. And frankly, you should be doing everything you can to limit your exposure to other people.

Chicago closed its Lakefront Trail after it got too crowded. D.C. closed part of the Mall when people crammed the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms. The D.C. Parks and Recreation Department just closed all of its facilities. In France, you can’t run more than 1.25 miles (they call it 2 kilometers) from your home. It’s not runners tipping the balance in most of those places, but let’s not change that.

Most of the sidewalks and trails around here aren’t wide enough to accomodate two people running side-by-side with approriate distance between them (and six feet is the minimum distance you should keep from people, anyway). Heck, Beach Drive is barely wide enough for that, given all the people out there on weekends. Run alone for a while.

If you’re thinking of getting out of town to run somewhere different, think about the impact you would have, if you are a coronavirus carrier and you bring it into a community that doesn’t have the same medical capacity that the D.C. area does.

As we deal with this for an open-ended stretch of time, think about what kind of running community you want to come back to. I hope a strong network of locally-owned running specialty stores will be a part of that, so think about buying new shoes from one. If you’re running more these days, you’ll probably need a fresh pair.

Though it is aimed primarily at high school runners and coaches (who are dealing with uncertainty about whether they will race again this spring – Virginians won’t) all runners are welcome at the District Track Club’s virtual running clinic April 2, 5- 6:30 p.m. on Zoom – register here.

Keep in touch with your physical therapist, too, because in a lot of places, they can’t see patients right now, they’re probably lonely, and they’ll need their clients back when they are able to see them. Rachel Miller from Rockville’s ProAction Physical Therapy advised listeners to the Run Farther and Faster podcast about strenghtening work they can do to fortify themselves for the racing season when it returns (and frankly general training). If you have some time to spare (and you might, these days), check it out and do your body a favor.

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