One Dirty Magazine

Go Ahead, Run Outside.

Experts say running outside is one of the safest things you can do.

Zoë Rom March 17th, 2020

Go Ahead, Run Outside.

Coronavirus has disrupted every corner of  American life. Across the country from California and Colorado to New York City, governments have shuttered movie theaters, bars and restaurants in the hope of flattening the curve

Amidst orders to shelter in place, self-quarantine and practice social distancing, the race cancelations of last week pale in comparison with the disruptions that many people’s lives are facing now (even the NBA and SNL are on hiatus).

More importantly than knowing how to self-isolate, or improvise toilet paper, trail runners know how to come together when it counts.

More importantly than knowing how to self-isolate, or improvise toilet paper, trail runners know how to come together when it counts. These are scary, uncertain times. The only thing that we know for sure is that we have each other to lean on. As Alison Wade of Fast Women put it, “Racing is canceled. Running is more important than ever.”

Running Outside

One of the best things you can do right now is get outside and go for a run.

“People shouldn’t avoid running outside,” says Dr. Joseph Vintez, an infectious disease expert at the Yale School of Medicine. 

Running and being outside can play a vital role in your mental health (though be sure it’s not your only outlet!), and can even boost immunity. 

“Running outside is preferred, given the transmission routes of COVID-19,” says Dr. David Nieman, Director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University. 

There are some unknowns when it comes to the spread of a novel virus, but there’s a lot that we do know about how corona is transmitted. The virus tends to spread through close contact and in tighter spaces, so getting in your daily run is one of the safest things you can do. According to the CDC, corona is transmitted between people in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets, produced through a cough or sneeze, not sweat. So working up a little solo-sweat might be one of the best things you can do. But, don’t go too hard, and be sure to get plenty of rest. 

“Avoid overtraining because this can compromise your immune system’s ability to detect and destroy viruses,” says Dr. Nieman, which is good advice outside of a pandemic situation. 

Make sure you’re up to date on what restrictions are in place in your area. So far, shelter in place orders still allow people to get out for their daily run. If you’re feeling sick, or are at risk, go ahead and stay home. We’re in this together. 

Running With Friends

Running alone is the only sure-fire way you’re not going to transmit the virus, but maintaining at least six feet between you and a running partner is a good buffer. Experts recommend sticking to running with people from your household as a safeguard.  Again, be sure you’re aware of what restrictions are in your community. New national guidelines recommend against meetings of 10 or more people. Your local group run is definitely out. 

Plan routes that won’t be to avoid any unnecessary contact or jostling. Running early, or later in the day is a good idea too, if you live in a densely populated zone. Forgo hugs, handshakes and high-fives, and be sure to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. 

If your race was canceled, plan a solo-adventure run instead, but skip out on rogue runs or unofficial races. Even though many of us are craving community right now, express solidarity by limiting your exposure to other people. 

 Many communities, particularly smaller, rural ones near areas where races tend to take place can be some of the hardest hit and have limited healthcare resources available. Show support for areas you love by limiting the spread of corona and stick close to home. 

Be Mindful

We’re in this together. Reach out if you need support, and take extra time to encourage others. Social distancing shouldn’t mean total isolation, and technology can be a wonderful way of staying connected in uncertain times. 

Be mindful of how your interactions now will affect your community members down the line. Everything you do to keep yourself healthy helps keep your community healthy. Proper social distancing is a radical act of compassion for yourself, and your community. 

Running is a wonderful, important activity for so many of us, but it’s still a privilege. While we’re out on the roads or the trails, it’s important to reflect on our actions and make sure we’re not taking risks with other’s health. No race, and no run is worth that.

Who knows? Maybe this will be some of your best training yet. 

Zoë Rom is Assistant Editor at Trail Runner , host of the DNF Podcast and a trail running coach. She enjoys podcasts and pizza. 

0 0 vote
Article Rating
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 months ago

We recommend you to run ALONE ! Don’t take no risk because in this case you might take a place in an hospital of a victim of Coronavirus. Be smart, run wise. From France, Greg.

6 months ago

Also, don’t risk getting injured! Keep yourself out of the hospital. They’re going to be stretched thin as it is.

6 months ago

Don’t run outside if there’s a risk of getting injured, especially in rural areas where healthcare facilities don’t need any added stress. Although I’ve been running outdoors, it’s best to stay close to home.

6 months ago

STAY AT HOME!!! I cannot believe you guys are publishing this. I would kindly suggest you to remove ASAP. It is not only that you are not doing enough the decelerate the pandemia, if you get injured health care providers have enough now, to in addition, go rescue stupid people and use hospital beds and ER space. You guys do not get it yet, just wait 2 weeks.

6 months ago

Insightful article! Keep going.

6 months ago

Mental Health benefits > tiny chance of injury which would be even less chance of injury that requires attention from hospital. Being stuck inside as a runner might send someone loopy and end up in hospital anyway.

Never let FEAR win 🙂

6 months ago
Reply to  Josh

Well said- totally agree! A solo run in the local area is probably one of the safest things to do

Coach D
6 months ago

Good advice, I’m still recommending that my runners run alone outside if they can. Ideally on routes they’re unlikely to encounter many others and I’m still running solo too.

You’re absolutely right about the mental health benefits and also that moderate exercise will help keep the immune system working properly.

Lets hope this pandemic starts to slow and get under control soon.

Jenelle Potvin
6 months ago

Emphasis on running from your home – this is not the time to drive to another neighborhood or town to bombard their trail system. Too many people flooded to Marin County trails this weekend and as a result, the parks and trails are now all closed. Please just run from your front door, alone, and remember this is only temporary. Stay safe all.


HELP US KEEP OUR WEBSITE FREE is completely free. We don’t have a paywall and you don’t have to be a member to access thousands of articles, photos and videos. Our editorial and design team—and all of our contributors—are trail runners just like you who love the sport and want to share all the great things it has to offer. 

But we can’t do it without you. Your support is critical for keeping our website free and delivering the most current news, the most in-depth stories and the best photography in the running world.

For 20 years Trail Runner has committed to excellence and authenticity. Your subscription to our print magazine or donation will help us continue down a path that is uncompromised, and keep the website free for trail runners like you.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x