running during covid-19
Running during a pandemic can be scary, and your FARC fam wants all of our members to stay healthy during this unprecedented times.
Run in nature.
If you feel empowered to go on a run, head out for a solo run in a less crowded natural or green environment. You should be mindful of keeping at least six feet of distance between you and another person at all times.
Why head outside? According to a study published in Extreme Physiology & Medicine, outdoor exercise can increase self-esteem and negative moods like depression and tension.
Such adverse feelings tend to run high when
1) the news and social media present constant morbid statistics and
2) you are staying inside without much human contact.
For those who feel uncomfortable going outdoors for long periods of time during a pandemic, even a few minutes of running outside can make a difference. Researchers in this study note that the first five minutes of green exercise appears to have the most major impact on mood and self-esteem. This suggests that you can get an immediate psychological health benefit when you exercise outside — important for those experiencing loneliness during COVID-19’s comprehensive lock downs.
The study recommends exercising in these green outdoor spaces:
- Local parks if open
- Countrysides (which might not have any crowds)
give people more than 6 feet of space.
The familiar guidelines to stay six feet from other people to prevent the spread of coronavirus are based on a “closed environment,” which means it doesn’t take into consideration factors like wind or heavy breathing that could influence how far your respiratory droplets disperse.
For example, a recent research model suggests that respiratory droplets from bikers and runners may spread 33 to 65 feet depending on the speed. (But there were some issues with this research. For one, the researchers didn’t take into consideration wind, and some experts say they overestimated the likelihood of someone being infected by the droplets.)
There’s also some evidence that the virus may also spread through smaller particles, aka “aerosols,” which would be able to travel farther than six feet.
Regardless, it’s wise to maintain a longer distance when you’re walking and running outside, around 12 to 20 feet. And if you see a runner approaching you, give them a wide berth to pass you.
wear a face covering even if it is uncomfortable.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where it’s tough to maintain social distance, such as the grocery store or pharmacy.
While face coverings can be uncomfortable when you’re huffing and puffing on a walk or run, you should still wear them to prevent spreading the infection to other people. Even if you feel fine, you could be an asymptomatic carrier.
Even if you’re walking or running, wearing a bandana or something like that is sort of a polite thing for others more than for yourself. For example, runners can wear a “Buff” which is a tube of fabric that runners often wear on their necks for extra warmth, might be more comfortable than a mask because it’s stretchy and sweat-wicking.
Run solo…but be street smart.
You should not run on a busy street or trail at a busy time or run with a group of people, and you should not stop to talk to other people you see on your run.
If you find you get bored without your jogging buddies, consider calling them on the phone and chatting during your run.
Ideally you should run alone, but that may not feel safe for some people in certain areas, in that case, it’s okay to run with another one of your household contacts, because there’s no added risk of exposure.
You don’t want to abandon your normal common sense in choosing a safe place to run.
Don’t feel safe to go outside to run? No problem. Add in cross-training!
Add Plyometric Training
Try 200 jumps with five to 10 short treadmill sprints. In a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers found this drill on middle- and long-distance runners offered a great beneficial effect to their running economy
Do a High-Intensity Interval Training Workout (HIIT)
Try something like this HIIT-running workout, which you could do outside or on a treadmill. If you don’t have a treadmill, you could run stairs indoors, or run in place (adding high knees and butt kicks for intensity and variation).
- Brief warm-up
- 30 seconds low speed
- 20 seconds medium speed
- 10 seconds high-intensity speed
- Do this 30-20-10 workout for five minutes
- Rest for two minutes
- Do three or four sets of the above five-minute blocks
Practice Uphill Training
Outdoor runners don’t always find it easy to practice going uphill. Instead, treadmills can offer this type of training in a safe environment and help you build up heart and lung health. You can also use stairs (indoors or out) if you have access to them.
try something new
Perhaps you find taking a break from training a bit tempting during this time and choose to spend your hours binge watching shows instead of getting your heart rate up. Don’t let a pandemic become a reason for neglecting your fitness. You still need exercise for both your body’s health and your mental health.
Potential new physical activities to try, which also happen to benefit runners, include the following:
- Yoga: The studios might be closed but you can do your own personal yoga practice to help with your running. In a study from the International Journal of Yoga, researchers found significant gains in flexibility, balance and athletic performance after a 10-week period of yoga sessions in male athletes.4
- Resistance training: Using a couple of dumbbells or water jugs you purchased for your ever-important food supply, you can strength train. For the uninitiated to resistance training, you can stick to the basics: walking lunges, bicep curls, squats and tricep curls. Why weight lift? According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, adding a weight regime into a distance running program can result in less injuries and an overall better running performance.
- Fostering a dog: With COVID-19, dog shelters across the country are either shutting down or working with a skeleton crew. You can offer to foster a dog during this time to not only help out a four-legged friend in need, but also take your new buddy for runs around the neighborhood, forcing you to get a run/walk in even when you want to stay inside. You’ll also get some friendly company you might not receive when social distancing.
Keep yourself as healthy as possible.
People who tested positive for COVID-19 often say they have trouble breathing. If you feel shortness of breath or dizzy, stop running immediately. Any extra coughing (not just your typical sprinter’s cough) or if you feel feverish, you should see a medical professional right away. You don’t want to risk your own health for a few extra miles.
To try to keep yourself healthy when running during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following:
Wear Proper Clothes
The U.S. National Library of Medicine says to look for words like moisture-wicking, Dri-fit, Coolmax and Supplex, and to choose socks made of a polyester blend or other special fabric. You should also avoid cotton as this fabric stays wet, which could make you more susceptible to getting sick. Although many retail stores have their doors closed at the moment, you can still online shop for appropriate workout apparel.
While it is safest to run in areas where you can maintain your distance from others, that may not always be possible if you live in a city that is densely populated. If so, you may choose to wear a cloth mask or other face covering to help protect those around you.
Stay Inside in Bad Weather
April showers bring May flowers…so they say. But April showers means you need to take your workout indoors during COVID-19, even if you are used to running in anything. Getting wet can make you more vulnerable to the cold and you might not be able to keep your core body temperature high enough. In these times, you might want to consider staying inside when it’s raining—your own health is at risk.
Change Clothes and Shower Right After Your Workout
Run, don’t walk to your shower. According to a study from Applied and Environmental Microbiology, textiles aren’t sterile and can harbor bacteria as sweat and bacteria are transmitted from the skin.5 You need to get out of these clothes and rinse away any bacteria with soap and water before they transfer to anything or anyone else.
As a combatant to COVID-19, you need to prevent dehydration—something almost completely within your control. Athletes should keep a bottle of fluid available when working out and drink ideally every 15 to 20 minutes. You shouldn’t wait until you feel thirsty because by then, you might have lost more than two percent of your body weight.
This article was modified from verywellfit.com