Social Distancing and the Avid Runner: 5 Common Sense COVID-19 Tips


Across the nation, state and local governments are issuing “Shelter in Place” or “Safer at Home” decrees in an effort to flatten the curve of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections. At the time of this writing, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has not issued such a mandate, but many Texas cities have expressed their own orders. Likewise, hundreds of thousands of mindful Texans have entered “self-quarantine” to help quash the spread of COVID-19.

Regardless of the current status in your area, it behooves all Americans to practice social distancing and to undertake common-sense precautions. This also extends to participating in our favorite activity — running!

These five tips can help you stay safe during these troubling times.

1) Stay Home — Even if your favorite gym is still open for business, you’ll be safer if you simply exercise at home. Break a sweat at your home gym or run a circuit through your neighborhood. Several famous instructors are offering free streaming work-along exercise programs during the quarantine. Check the websites of your favorite fitness gurus, or hit Google for other suggestions.

2) Maintain Social Distancing — If you do head out for a jog around the neighborhood or at a local trail, remember to keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and any other runners. Avoid any physical contact such as high fives, hugs, or fist bumps. Who doesn’t appreciate a nice “Hey, what’s up?” nod on the trail? Use hand sanitizer after touching any handrails, doorknobs, water fountains, or the like. When you get home, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds.

3) Streamline Your Shopping — A healthful diet is an essential component of an athlete’s life, and so far there is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted on food. However, you still need to venture forth to obtain your groceries. Have a plan going in. Make a list before you go, stick to it and move efficiently through the store while trying to maintain a healthy 6-foot distance from other shoppers. Use the self-checkout if possible. Be sure to wash your hands when you get home, and wash all produce as well. Always wash your hands before you eat (this should apply all the time and not just during a medical emergency).

If you get take-out food (including smoothies from your favorite place), transfer the product into your own dish or glass when you get it home and discard the original container.

4) Keep a Routine — These are interesting times, and stress and uncertainty run rampant. Even if you have to alter your usual schedule to accommodate new challenges to your work or home life, do your best to stick to a regular exercise regimen. Your body and mind will benefit from the familiarity and it will serve as a reliable escape from the day’s worries. When this is all over, you will have maintained your edge and can get back out into the world.

5) Stay Connected — Being quarantined doesn’t mean you need to be completely cut off. In this day and age, it is simple to stay connected with your friends, neighbors, and running crew through video chats, message boards, and social media. Reach out to your buddies to compare running times, personal achievements, gains, setbacks, or just to share a laugh. We’re all in this together.