How to run safely during COVID

What’s the best way to get in a run during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Let me start by saying that I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV or the Internet. New information may make require an update to my suggestions. If you know of something that would make this post be more helpful, let me know in the comments, below.

By the way, much of what I’ll say applies to non-running activity as well. You’ll see.

Okay, so, if you’re able to get out of the house to go running during COVID, you need to consider three things:

  1. Your comfort
  2. Your safety
  3. The safety of others

And here’s the most important thing to think about:

  • I put those in REVERSE order

The most important thing to consider when you go for a run is not your safety. It’s the safety of others.


Because if you get that one right, the others mostly fall into place.

How do I run while focusing on other’s safety?

Frankly, it’s simple.

Just assume that you are a COVID-19 carrier and are contagious.

Pause and think about that for a sec.

If you KNEW you were infected and contagious, what would you do when you wanted to run and keep everyone ELSE safe?

Well, you probably wouldn’t go outside. You’d probably run indoors, in your home, on a treadmill.

BTW, our favorite treadmill are the non-motorized, curved, TrueForm treadmills, found here (opens in a new tab). It’s almost impossible to run with anything other than great, natural form on a curved, non-motorized treadmill.

Okay, but now think about what you would do if you went for a run outside?

This is probably what you’ll come up with, after a tiny amount of pondering:

  • Stay as far away from others as possible
  • Cover your mouth and nose
  • Don’t touch things like gates at trail entrances with your hands

Did you notice that those suggestions are pretty much the same thing you would want to do to keep yourself from getting infected?

Here are some tips for doing those things, even if you’re thinking more about your own safety than that of others:

  • If you’re running towards someone, make eye contact and communicate (use hand signals at the very least, but try TALKING) to make sure each of you know who is getting out of the way of the other.
  • If you want to give runners a good name, then YOU be the one who gets out of the way
  • If  that’s hard to do (say, if the path you’re on is narrow with no way to get off the path), STOP RUNNING, until you can each negotiate a way to be socially distant
  • If you have to double-back to find a place that let’s you pass each other safely, do that
  • If you’re coming up BEHIND someone, loudly indicate that you’re coming with PLENTY of time/space for them to respond… then take the steps I listed previously

How do I stay comfortable while running during COVID?

I know, I know. Running with a mask isn’t always comfortable. They can get hot and moist and you can’t suck as much air.

I’ll confess that when I’m doing my track workouts, I’m not wearing a mask. But I’m also staying VERY far away from the small number of people who are also on the track. And when I’m done sprinting and am breathing heavily to make up for that oxygen debt, I cover my mouth and face away from where people might pass (so I’m facing the outside of the track).

Another option, consider a bandana rather than a mask. They’re less restrictive.

But know that this isn’t as protective, so you’ll still want to stay FAR away from people and face away from where they may pass.

If you cough from exertion, or sneeze for any reason, COVER YOUR FACE with your elbow. Coughing without any covering can send particulate matter about 12′ away, and it can linger for MINUTES.

If you’re wearing a mask when you cough or sneeze, particles can spread out sideways from your mask, even if it has a good seal otherwise.

Check out this video about what happens when you cough, with or without a mask.

This is not the time to feel entitled and aloof and give runners a bad name.

Outside Magazine has some similar thoughts to mine in this article.

What else do you recommend?

Share your ideas about staying safe while being active in the comments, below.

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