Running is having a moment! Whether you’re new to the sport because you just want to get up and get out, or you’re a long-time runDisney veteran, going out for a run offers a sense of freedom and much-needed stress relief. With the cancellation of Star Wars Rival Race Weekend back in April, many runDisney fans are looking to gear up for the Virtual Summer Series, and want to start training plans for the 2020 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, and even the 2021 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. (PS If you’re looking to book your next runDisney trip, click here!)
Wondering how to safely train for runDisney during Covid-19? As a health professional and lifelong runner myself, I’ve made it a point to stay up-to-date with expert recommendations during this crazy time. Here are tips for safe running so you’ll be well-prepared for making magic on the road!
- Maintain your usual baseline safety measures.
First and foremost, when thinking about how to safely train for runDisney during Covid-19, remember all your typical run safety items! At baseline, you should have proper footwear, running gear, and engage in a 5-10-minute warm up routine before your run. Make sure to tell someone when and where you are going for your run. Prepare and plan with proper hydration and fueling before hitting the road. If you’re running at dawn or dusk, use reflective wear and always be aware of your surroundings. Bring your phone in case of an emergency. Lastly, make sure you have a gradual and safe training plan in place to build strength and endurance with reduced risk of injury.
- Be like Hans, and run solo.
Running clubs are fun and useful for training because of collective goals, shared motivation and camaraderie. However, just as we are now limited with engaging in social gatherings, we must also apply the same limitations to our exercise routines. If running completely alone bores you, consider listening to a podcast, chatting on the phone using air pods, or working on a new play list to jam out to. These can be nice distractions and make the road feel less lonely. Remember to keep the volume low enough to be aware of your surroundings in all directions. Additionally, find online running communities to share your challenges, obstacles and achievements with like-minded runners.
- Maintain 12-20 feet of distance between you and others during your run.
The US Centers for Disease Control guidelines we have heard repeatedly state to stay six feet from other people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, these assume a closed environment and doesn’t take into consideration factors like wind or heavy breathing which may influence the distance that respiratory droplets disperse. On trails, track and road, aim to keep at least a 12-foot distance in all directions of others around you.
- Plan your route ahead of time, as well as a backup route.
You may need to factor in a longer time allotment in your schedule for your run should you need to take time to change route or location half-way thru. One of the many unknowns right now is crowd size. As parks and public areas start to reopen, and weather improves, you can expect a spike in people outdoors. Be flexible! Try running during off-peak hours and in different locations than your favorite frequented spots. If you notice an area where people were recently running, treat is as if they’re still there. While wind can help disperse respiratory droplets making them less concentrated, it does not whisk them away entirely. Some virus droplets can survive in air for a period of time afterwards.
- You may need to wear a breathable mask.
The US Centers for Disease Control recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” Over the last couple of months, we have learned that people can spread Covid-10 without ever experiencing symptoms. This means that while wearing a mask does little to protect you from catching the virus, it does help to lessen the spread. If you’re running in a populated area, wearing a mask is a courtesy to others, and depending on where you live, may also be a requirement. Make sure your mask is breathable during increased physical exertion. You’ll be using more oxygen during exercise compared to when sitting on a park bench or leisurely walking through a grocery store. Just as you would never run a race in a costume you’ve never tried on before, be sure to test your mask beforehand. Wear it during jumping jacks or a short circuit workout at home before your intended outdoors run. A buff, which is a tube of fabric runners wear on their necks for extra warmth in cold temperatures, might be more comfortable than a mask since it is stretchy and moisture-wicking.
- Avoid touching shared surfaces.
Public bathrooms (though many will be closed), public use water fountains, and benches for rest are all made of surfaces where the virus can live for several hours. At present, many of these facilities are closed to the public across the country. As they begin to reopen, it is wise to avoid contact and to carry santizer with you to use as needed during your run. If you live near open roads safe for running, plan to run near your home so you can freely use your own bathroom and water without risk. If you live elsewhere, plan how you can safely meet your needs with minimal contact and bring your own water bottle for hydration.
There’s no argument that times have changed. Fortunately, with safety in mind and these tips on how to safely train for runDisney during Covid-19, we are able to stay running outdoors while getting in our magical miles! For more on runDisney, check out the below links: