If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know that one of the main reasons I run is to combat depression. It helped me overcome postpartum depression and it has helped me many times in situational depression. If there was ever a time when situational depression would rear its ugly head, isolation due to Covid 19/coronavirus is that time. I am currently on day 19 of a minimum of 15 minutes a day running streak, in an attempt to keep from a downward slide. So, obviously I’m concerned with running without putting myself or others at risk.
I live in a highly populated area. It’s not quite like living downtown with all the high rises, but there are a lot of people in my area. Gone are the days when I’d go on a 10:30am run and see fewer than a handful of people. Now I see dog walkers, families, and bikers approximately every 20 seconds out my front window. While I am absolutely in support of EVERYONE getting out, it does make getting in a run more challenging.
So here are my suggestions for safe run options during this stay at home period. (Just for the record, where I live, outside exercise is allowed. You should follow whatever rules your area has in place.)
- Run at odd hours. Hitting the road at sunup or as the sun is going down is the best time for me to run in my actual neighborhood. It’s much easier to avoid people when there are fewer out – just make sure to dress appropriately and take safety precautions like wearing a headlamp.
- Run in less trafficked, more open areas. Is there an adjacent neighborhood or business area where foot traffic is lower or streets are wider? For me, that means hitting up either the downtown business district (where many businesses are currently closed) or a nearby neighborhood where the streets are much wider and every block has sidewalks on both sides. I ran 7 miles yesterday in another neighborhood and was able to stay a half block or more away from any person I saw (which is a far cry from barely being able to maintain 6 feet in my neighborhood.)
- Think outside the box. In the last two weeks, some of my most socially distant runs have happened in the parking lot of a closed gym, the parking lot of a church on a Sunday morning (ok, that was a little weird), and in a cemetery.
- Look for not so perfect weather. Most people who are not consistent runners are not out in the pouring rain or crazy cold or strong winds. As long as the weather is just suboptimal, not unsafe, it’s a perfect time to hit the roads. I had a great run last week in a torrential downpour. (Today I’m hitting my treadmill because there is a tornado watch going on…)
- Run laps in your own space. I have only had to do a teeny bit of this so far to finish up a run. But there was a guy who did the Backyard ultra in his living room and a member of my MRTT is running miles! on her balcony.
- Use a treadmill. This is currently my back up choice. There will be times when I have no other options, but for now, I’m trying to stay off of it for the most part. But it really is the safest option if you have one in your home and live in a highly populated area.
Of course, there’s the million dollar question: to mask or not to mask. I can’t answer that question for you as you need to take into account a number of factors including the actual rules by you as well as the likelihood of being close to others. Currently, I carry a buff with me, but as I am doing my best to stay 20 or more feet away from people, I have yet to put one on while running.
I wish I could look into a crystal ball and tell you when life will return to some semblance of normal. But for now, I’m taking it one day at a time and training for some virtual races, while hoping that I’ll have a busy fall race season. I hope you all are doing well in these crazy times! Stay safe!