To run or not run – that is the big question as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to develop here in the Pacific Northwest. As we are seeing larger races being cancelled or postponed like the New York and Boston Marathons, it is easy to give in to the media and succumb to the fear that it relies on. I’m writing this blog not as a doctor or medical professional, but from the perspective of a runner and outdoor enthusiast. I want to help everyone understand this from a personal health standpoint, how the virus affects your training, and maybe put some minds at ease during this stressful period.
- Is it safe to run outside? Yes! In fact it’s safer to be outside than inside when it comes to disease transmission. Everything that I have read is showing that the Coronavirus does not survive for long periods of time on surfaces, especially in the outdoors because the virus does not like UV sunlight. In addition to this, when someone sneezes or coughs indoors, the droplets land and collect on a variety of objects that people use (coffee pot, vending machines, office equipment, etc.). When in the outdoors, coming into contact with objects like this is far less.
- Should you run in groups or smaller events? Exposure to sick people and the coronavirus in these situations should be minimal if you think about it logically, as someone who has a fever and a cough won’t feel like going for a run. That being said, the contagious period is one thing that is not fully understood yet about coronavirus. Please do remember, that we are also in the middle of flu season, it is always a good idea to protect yourself a bit by spreading out and avoiding unnecessary hand-touching. And of course, don’t forget to wash your hands when you get back. Keep in mind things could change, but there are still opportunities to take part in races of 250 or fewer people and get your race fix, just be conscious and keep personal hygiene as your top priority (cover your mouth when sneeze/cough, wash hands, don’t touch your face).
- Is it healthy to run, what do I do if I’m quarantined? If you are not feeling sick, getting 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to brisk activity can help your immune system keep viruses at bay. If you are sick, do the socially responsible thing and please quarantine yourself. While the coronavirus may be more manageable for someone in good physical shape with a non-compromised immune system, it is everyone’s responsibility to protect those that are not. Again, if you are having ANY symptoms, please stay at home! You can still get your daily exercise in by jumping on YouTube and trying those P90X or Insanity workouts you’ve been wondering about!
- Can the Coronavirus be spread through sweat? According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), transmission of the coronavirus happens between people who are in close contact with one another (about six feet) and through respiratory droplets, produced through a cough or sneeze—not sweat.
- What do I do if my race is cancelled? Please don’t tweet in all caps at the event’s Twitter account. Don’t post nasty comments on their Facebook page. If you’re awaiting word on whether the race you’ve entered will be run, don’t berate the race director. Don’t take out your frustration on people who are, no doubt, just as upset as you are that they had to cancel their event. While cancelling is never an optimal situation, keep in mind that it is being done to protect the running community and for the right reasons. It is okay to be mad of course, but sometimes life is out of our control.
I sincerely hope that I have helped calm some concerns about the Coronavirus and the current situation we are all facing. I do understand everyone’s reality and interpretations is a bit different. From my standpoint I am not willing to let the social hysteria stop me from living my life, while fully appreciating and being present in the here and now. If there is anything I can do to help ease your concerns please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk – Be The Traveler