Running and practicing Social Distancing, and when should you wear a mask or face covering!

These are very weird and interesting times. Never did I think, I would be living through a global infectious disease pandemic, but here I am trying my best to cope with COVID-19, along with the rest of the world.

At first, I wasn’t to concerned about the Corona Virus, the Tokyo Marathon was canceled to all foreign runners, but LA was still on. “Of course, the Tokyo Marathon would be canceled, there is an infectious virus outbreak happening in Asia right now,” I thought. But then the weekend after LA, New York City canceled their half marathon. After that, with in a week, the NBA postponed their season, and more running races were canceled or postponed. School closures happened and then by the end of the month of March, the governor of Virginia temporarily closed all essential businesses, and put a STAY AT HOME order in place, until June 10th.

Now, that I am temporarily unemployed because my salon is temporarily closed, there is no excuse, but to get in high quality running mileage, and start consistently weight lifting again. I have the time and need to make sure I am productive, plus living a healthy lifestyle, running and weight lifting is a priority for me, has been and always will.

With that being said, we as runners can not run like we use to, because SOCIAL DISTANCING, is more important than ever.

From day one, the CDC has strongly recommended we social distance. However, at first, there was not a clear guideline on what social distancing meant. Many people thought – school is out, but my kids can still have friends over. My yoga studio is closed but I can participate in an outdoor yoga class. My gym is closed, so I guess it’s time to take out my old bike that lives in my garage and grab a couple fiends to go bike riding. We’ll stay six feet apart and we will be outside.

No! No! No!

Social distancing means stay at home and and only go out for essentials, avoiding a possible exposure to COVID-19 at all costs. When in public because you are out for an essential need, stay six feet or further away from people. Wash hands, or use hand sanitizer. Sneeze and cough in a tissue. Avoid touching your face.

Mean while runners and cyclists are still running in groups, but six feet a part. Trails and parks are busy, seriously it looks like Spring Break. Most people are working from home, so even on off hours people are out – walking, biking, running. It is really hard to feel safe when running outside if you live in a city, like I do.

After the governor of Virginia placed a STAY HOME order, the parks and trails, have locked bathrooms, and closed parking lots. They have strongly warned NOT to use the parks or trails if you can not enter them by foot or bike. I agree with this, in hope this will prevent people traveling to the area to use them and to help them become less busy and crowded.

The trail that I normally run on, I can get to an entrance by foot, but lately I can’t stand it, because it’s so unpredictable of whether it will be busy or not. I’ve been choosing to run on off hours, super early or later at night, which is guaranteed to be less crowded. I’ve come up with a couple of new running routes through my neighborhood, where there are wider sidewalks, a bike lane and a wide street.

Now, as of a couple days ago, the CDC is strongly suggesting all people in public wear a mask. They want to leave the N95 masks for medical workers because they are in short supply. Also these medical certified masks need to be fitted to each individual to work properly. However, experts are suggesting all people wear a face covering or a handmade mask. They are finding COVID-19 can be transmitted from little droplets that are created through not only a cough or sneeze, but also from talking or breathing. The person must be infected with the virus, but many aren’t showing symptoms and are spreading it without knowing. Iceland did a study where they tested the majority of their people and they found 50% of people tested positive did not show symptoms. Because we do not have sufficient testing here in the USA we do not know how many people have recovered from COVID-19, or even how many people show no symptoms, since we are only testing those with symptoms.

So even if we are “healthy” new guidelines are being considered that all wear a mask in public, not necessarily for protection, but rather to prevent more community spread. COVID-19 is not airborne like measles however, they are just discovering the little droplets humans produce even when talking can be enough to hold the virus in some cases. Also this data was discovered mainly in the hospital atmosphere where people had high exposure.

With that being said, does a runner need to wear a mask or face covering when running? This question is one of the most commonly asked questions from all of my running groups I’m in. It literally is asked multiple times a day.

So here is the thing…

I personally started wearing a buff or skida neck warmer, and I have seen many other runners do this as well. I pull it over my nose and mouth, tuck it under my sunglasses for a tighter fit. I only suggest this if you live in a city or you are running on a trail that is busy, or even on a neighborhood run, on a sunny day, and you know a lot of people will be out. If you are not going to be in close contact with other runners, walkers, or cyclists then you do not need to wear a face covering.

Also just because you are wearing a face covering this doesn’t mean you can stop the use of social distancing. Please continue to practice social distancing by avoiding busy trails and paths. Do not run in groups. Continue to leave six feet or further between you and other people. Run at off hours to avoid crowds, this means early morning or late at night.

Also here is the thing… different masks and face coverings protect in different ways depending on the material it is made from. A buff or any other athletic material is breathable so it will not be as sufficient as cotton or tea cloth material. Experts say, a breathable material will catch the big particles of virus, but only some of the smaller particles. Also when running, if you are quickly running pass someone, the odds are it’s not enough time and exposure to catch a virus or spread one. However, COVID-19 is an unknown virus we haven’t felt with before, so wearing a buff gives some protection to others, when worn properly and that’s why I’m choosing to wear one while running on times I just can’t avoid people 100% even when I’m trying desperately too.

There are also important ways to wear a face covering. One of the most important things is to commit, and keep it on. Do not move it up, when you see people or move it down, when you are by yourself. Your hands may be dirty and this is TOUCHING YOUR FACE. Also these buffs or face coverings need to be washed after you used them. Do not put a used face covering or mask back on your face, wash it first before using again.

But I can not stress this enough, social distance and staying home is the ultimate way to protect yourself and others.

I hope these tips helped! Happy running solo everyone! Run all of the mile while social distancing!