Should you go for a “Social Distance Run?” Here are some alternatives.

We all know that avoiding close interaction with others can help slow the spread of coronavirus. One question that has sparked a lot of discussion is whether or not a “Social Distance Run” (running with someone, but maintaining a distance of six feet) is okay.

This video from The University of Eindhoven shows what happens when someone sneezes or coughs while running. It’s pretty clear that running directly behind someone means you’re running right through their cough, but what does this say about running abreast, but with distance between you? And what about the direction and force of wind? Or what about it you encounter someone coming the other way?

Remodeled house

I stopped during a solo run to snap this photo – so I could show a running friend that this house’s remodel was finally done. We used to run by it all the time and it was a running joke that it would never be done.

Here are a few suggestions to let you still enjoy connecting with a friend without putting anyone in danger:

  1. Run by yourself, but document it to rehash with friends later.Take more photos – one before and after, of anything interesting you encounter on your run, or stop mid-run to record a short video or snap another selfie. Share this, along with your run stats, and turn it into a jumping-off point for the friendly conversations you usually have when running with a buddy.
  2. Avoid pathways and trails; stick to residential streets and go with a 15-foot rule.Trails and paths like the Springwater Corridor and the Powerline Trail in Beaverton are popular. They’re not “crowded,” but if you’re trying to keep your distance from others, right now they’re pretty busy. If you stay on the sidewalk and your friend runs in the middle of the street, you’ll maintain a good distance from each other. This is possible in some neighborhoods; running at night (with a lot of reflective gear and lights of course) is another good way to maintain a safe distance.
  3. Schedule a phone call run.Do you have earbuds that you can use to talk to someone on the phone? Plan a time for you and a friend to run in your own neighborhoods and chat while you run. This is best for a long, slow run; but what’s nice about it is that you can run “with” friends this way no matter where they live.

No matter what you end up doing, running by yourself is still the smartest, safest option right now and for the foreseeable future. I know it’s more fun to run with friends – you can talk about whatever comes to mind and the combination of talking and exercise is a great stress release.

If you have a friend or know of a group that isn’t adhering to these social distancing rules and is still scheduling group runs, please be that person who speaks up about it. There will be people who disagree – that’s fine, you can’t change that – but there will be more people who appreciate you being firm about following the rules. You can set an example that could save lives.

About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.

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