Thanks to Nora Ayers, Running Club Director at Fleet Feet Carrboro & Durham, for writing this guest post on running safely during COVID-19. She has been coaching and supporting all levels of runners and walkers through Fleet Feet Training Groups for the last five years, and is currently at home with her very active one-year-old, balancing work and play, and putting lots of miles on the jogging stroller.
This is a weird time, there’s no way around that. I’ve been struggling with being at home and juggling more things than humanly possible (kids, schooling, work, deadlines and much more), all while trying to stay mostly sane. This is our new normal, and many of us are turning to running as an escape and time of solitude among the chaos. At Fleet Feet, we pride ourselves on our community and bringing people together through our running clubs. Right now, with all the running clubs on hold due to COVID-19, we are not encouraging people to run alone! Here are a couple of tips for running in a pandemic.
- Run with a member of your household. In an effort to stay true to the social distancing guidelines set by the CDC, there really isn’t a safe way to run with someone you don’t already share a home with. Give other runners and walkers a wide berth when encountering them on your route. Thankfully, we’ve seen a slight drop in traffic on the road, so hopping off the sidewalk into the bike lane or edge of the road should give you some extra clearance. We always recommend you run on the sidewalk whenever possible, and when the sidewalk is not available, run facing toward traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles.
- Assume that the drivers do not see you. Make sure you are visible (here are some of our favorite gear items to help be visible) and make eye contact with drivers at all road crossings, driveways, and traffic intersections. Wear bright colors and lights when it’s dark or dusk. If you’re running for an extended period of time or if it’s really hot, it’s probably a good idea to bring water with you. You can carry it in a hydration belt or bottle or even stash it along your route. It’s probably a good idea to skip all public water fountains right now!
- Tell someone where you’re going and when to expect you back. This is a good habit to have in general. Whether it’s your partner at home or a text to your best running bud, checking in and letting someone know your whereabouts is helpful in the case of an emergency. It’s a good idea to carry an I.D. with you for the same reason. You can also connect virtually with people through social media (check out Fleet Feet’s “Running is NOT Cancelled” Facebook group), an app like Strava, or even a virtual training group to help hold you accountable and keep exercise fun.
- Know your route. If possible, we’d recommend staying as close to home as you can. This gives you familiarity with your route, ensures you can use your house as a water bottle stash point if you don’t want to carry it, and helps reduce the number of people on the greenways or other popular running trails. Take this as an opportunity to explore a section of your neighborhood you haven’t checked out before, or see if you can better your time on a certain route (programs like Strava and Garmin Connect can help with this). If you do head out to a greenway or trail, try to go at off-peak hours (early in the morning, later in the evening) to help reduce the number of people out at one time.
We hope these tips help you stay safe so you can get out and enjoy your miles! Please let us know if we can help.