Despite all the regulations and recommendations around social distancing, exercise remains an essential activity, no matter where you live. Not only does exercise boost your fitness, it also relieves stress, has positive impacts on your immune system and provides an overall feeling of wellbeing.
Doing an at-home workout or taking to the neighborhood block for a run are the two best things you can possibly do. But when it comes to running, going solo is the best way to adhere to social distancing guidelines. How do you ensure you're running safely (for yourself and for those around you)?
Here are our top tips for solo running.
What is the route’s distance? What’s the surrounding area like? Is it a loop or an out-and-back? If you’re feeling nervous, consider a loop or track where you’re out in the open and visible to other runners and walkers, while still able to maintain safe physical distance. Running from home, doing laps around your neighborhood block or a series of out-and-backs down your road are ideal options for ensuring that you stay close to home.
If you do plan a new route, tell a friend or loved one where you’re going, when you’re going and when you plan on getting back (at which point you can shoot them a quick text to let them know you arrived safely home).
Consider bringing your phone with you. Even if you need to disconnect, having access to your phone in an emergency (or if you get lost and need a GPS map) is important, especially if you don’t often run alone.
Lisa Zimmer, Co-Owner of Fleet Feet Chicago and and Chicago Endurance Sports, says that while running can be a peaceful escape on those stressful days, it’s still important to be aware of your surroundings.
“Whether you are running in an urban, suburban or rural area be sure to keep your head in the game,” she says. “Don’t zone completely out. You should always be able to hear and see everything around you: people, animals, vehicles, obstacles.”
It’s also still important to follow common-sense running practices when crossing the street or running on and off sidewalks to safely pass other people, because even though there is less traffic on the roads, there’s still traffic.
“Runners (and all pedestrians) should run or walk facing traffic on the left side of the street,” says Fletcher Swift, a Fleet Feet customer and safety-advocating runner from Granite Bay, Cali. "If a driver isn't paying attention and starts to drift towards the side, you can see that and can jump out of the way if necessary."
If it’s dark or getting dark, visibility is a must. Vests are easy to throw on and offer reflectivity, while blinking lights help drivers notice your movement. Be sure to research visibility options.
Multiple sources of light and reflectivity better alert drivers, cyclists and even other runners about your presence on the road. Plus, they help distinguish you as a runner in motion as opposed to an animal, reflective street sign or another inanimate object.
You’ll also want to make sure that you can see too. A quality headlamp will keep your path well lit and your surroundings visible.
Also, the CDC is now recommending that masks be worn in public. While this may sound like overkill when you're running, recent studies suggest that the virus can live in the air for up to 30 minutes. So, if you are running anywhere where you could pass another person, it's a good idea to wear a mask on your run.
In some places, like Chicago, this is already the norm.
Even if you hit the roads or trails on your own, you can still find encouragement through virtual running groups. Fleet Feet and The Run Experience joined forces on a virtual training plan designed specifically for our current quarantined conditions. It's called Together We Move, and it's comprised of running, strength, yoga, stretching, mobility, mindfulness, live sessions and more.
A new workout goes up every day from Fleet Feet coaches, The Run Experience coaches, pro athletes or experts from all over the running industry.
Also, consider joining the Fleet Feet Strava Club, where you’ll find an online community of runners and walkers. Post questions, share your accomplishments and connect with others.
And, finally, we're using and following the hashtags #TogetherWeMove and #RunningisNOTcancelled during this time.
Follow CDC guidelines. Consider washing your hands for at least 20 seconds before you head out (to keep others from getting sick) and when you get home (so you don’t bring anything you may have touched inside). Avoid touching your ears, nose and face, and take a shower before you do anything else. Check out our article all about tips on running safely.