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How to get outside while maintaining respect and safety
As more and more people find themselves without a job or working from home, our society is finding creative ways to restructure their time. And whether you are a training athlete or just someone looking to avoid cabin fever, it seems that hitting the trails or getting out for a run through the park is the answer for a large portion of the population.
For me personally, the precautions taken to stop the spread of the virus and resulting economic situation have left me out of school, out of work, and with an alarming amount of free time on my hands. I am usually balancing training carefully with a handful of other responsibilities, and while these have not completely gone away, the structure and routine I am used to is palpably absent.
This, combined with the first few intoxicatingly warm days of spring, make my desire to spend time outside greater than ever. But with Instagram posts hash tagged #istayhomefor all over my news feed, and large companies like Nike urging everyone to ‘play inside, play for the world,’ I am left wondering whether even my solo runs are appropriate and respectful.
I, too, have elderly family members and friends who are health care professionals. I am also sharing a living space and must do my part to keep it clean and safe. Social distancing on runs sometimes feels effective, but I am left asking myself as I walk back in the door, “is it effective enough?”
Public facilities that I and many people rely on during runs and other outdoor exercise—like drinking fountains and bathrooms—are high risk. It is more important now than ever to plan ahead for your run. Hand sanitizer and a pair of gloves might not be a bad idea to add to your Nathan pack. An article published by the NY Times encouraged outdoor exercisers to “assume that banisters, benches, pull-up bars, the ‘walk’ buttons on stop lights and other outdoor surfaces might be contaminated and avoid touching them, at least with uncovered skin.” (Reynolds, 2020)
Additionally, a full bladder will allow you to avoid public drinking fountains that may not be sanitary. Pro tip: I often choose to add some Tailwind to my pack (or run with one bottle of Tailwind and one of plain water if I take my VaporHowe 4L) so that I am sure to get electrolytes and calories as I hydrate on longer runs. I have found lately that even on short 3-5 mile distances that I used to do without carrying anything, it is helpful to have a handheld or waist pack for the essentials I now can’t get in public places. The VaporHowe Waistpak has quickly become my favorite for these runs, with room for my phone, a small bottle, and a pocket for some hand sanitizer. The pocket on my SpeedsShot Plus Insulated Flask is large enough to hold a gel and some sanitizer as well.
An article on outdoor play during quarantine by CNN says, “Many authorities and experts, in fact, recommend outdoor activity — with caution.” They quote Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University Medical Center. “’You can't just sit in your house,’” Griffin says, “’there's a certain point where you go stir crazy.’” (Lastoe, 2020)
While we are all focusing on our cleanliness and physical health, mental health is equally as important. The uncertainty surrounding the development of the virus is challenging, and with virtually no set timeline on when quarantines and shelter in place ordinances will end, fear and doubt are both valid and understandable feelings. While for some this may mean staying inside, I am choosing to continue outdoor activity as long as I am able.
Running is my haven. It is my time to breathe and reflect. Recently, I have been taking time on runs to appreciate the beauty of the world as it is forced to slow down. Every day when I run I choose to focus on something I am thankful for, and set a good intention for the rest of the day.
Despite seeking as much space from one another as possible we are also united in ways we have never been before. We need to reestablish our global well being, and I believe this starts with individual health (mental and physical). Though some may urge you to stay inside, I support the need for fresh air and exercise—as long as it is done in a safe and respectful way. Please be prepared and maintain appropriate space from others, and only go out if it is allowed in your area.
~Written by: Rebecca Hamel
Lastoe, S. (2020, March 23). Is going to the beach OK? What about hiking?
CNN.Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/hiking-beach-coronavirus/index.html
Reynolds, G. (2020, March 19). Exercising During Coronavirus: Can I Jog? Is
That Water Fountain Safe? New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/well/move/coronavirus-covid-exercise-outdoors-infection-fitness.html
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