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The Gear You Need to Run Safely During a Pandemic

A man smiles as he pulls off his facemask

Pandemic life is full of obstacles. Luckily, running is one of the best things you can do during this time to burn stress and maintain a healthy immune system. Running only requires a few pieces of essential gear, but you never know when an unexpected need may arise.

While public facilities are closed and you are likely running alone, some key pieces of gear can help you run safely through the pandemic.

A woman in sunglasses runs with a handheld bottle

Hydration gear

Pandemic or no pandemic, avoiding dehydration is critical, especially during the summer. During times of lockdown, public water fountains are often shut off. Stay hydrated and self-sufficient with a number of options, like ergonomically shaped handheld bottles for running, or hydration packs that hold bottles or a water bladder. Insulated options keep your drink ice cold, which is super refreshing on a hot day.

In addition to water, a good bottle or pack gives you extra storage capacity to carry your essentials. Even a small handheld bottle will typically fit your keys and a gel.

A woman with a storage waist belt looks at the city

Waist pack or storage belt

Another great option is a storage belt designed for running. Look for options that are breathable and stretchy. Reflective elements are useful if you’re running at night or early in the morning. Running belts expand to hold more than you would guess and are designed not to bounce on the run. Many options are adjustable or come in several size options for your comfort.

The following items may come in handy during this time, and can fit into a waist pack comfortably:

  • Phone
  • Keys
  • Extra calories, like gels or chews
  • A few squares of toilet paper
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Face mask

Face mask

A face mask is recommended in cases when it’s difficult to stay six feet away from other people.

If you have COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms, covering your face protects others.

If you are alone, there is no need to cover your face. However, it's always best to carry a mask that you can easily slip on if you encounter others along your route. Wash your hands before putting on your face mask, and be sure you can breathe freely in it.

[When this article was originally published on July 15, 2020, we recommended wearing a face mask or a neck gaiter. New research suggests that wearing a neck gaiter may do more harm than good, as its breathability releases smaller droplets that may hang in the air for a longer period of time.]

A man runs in a hat and aftershokz headphones

Running-friendly headphones

As we adhere to social distancing guidelines, many of us are running alone more than usual. Bring along a good pair of running headphones to catch up on Fleet Feet’s latest podcast or our favorite running playlist.

If you do run with music, keep safety top of mind. Set the volume low enough to hear approaching traffic, people or animals. And of course, for any run, you will need to have comfortable shoes, socks and clothing. Read more about the essential gear you need to start running.

[This article was updated on August 11, 2020]

By Kate Schwartz. Schwartz has been running competitively for 20 years, and she currently runs with the Asheville Running Collective. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, Alex, and their cat, Clementine.

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