Welcome to the Running newsletter! Every Saturday morning, we email runners with news, advice and some motivation to help you get up and running. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.
Here we are, another Saturday into our new, unsettled world. Are you hanging in there? I am, and doing better with the anxiety I wrote about last week (thanks in part to teletherapy). Running with my dog helps — I hope running is helping you, too.
As Jodi Kantor writes in the new “Dilemmas” column, it’s difficult to balance the risks of going outside against the benefits of going outside. A study published this week suggests that the virus can linger in the air for as long as half an hour, raising concerns about exposure even when nobody is around. In France, going out to exercise is now allowed only once a day, for one hour.
In the constant flow of distressing news this week, something that ordinarily would be a huge story may have almost gotten lost: the 2020 Olympics have been postponed to 2021. We have full analysis of that decision, and the monumental task ahead in making this shift happen. Want to know more about what’s happening with canceled sports? You can sign up for our Sports newsletter too.
Despite all that we know (and don’t know) about Covid-19, we know that with gyms closed, running is becoming increasingly popular right now.
For all you new runners out there, welcome! Here’s some advice on how to get started:
Whatever shoes and clothes you have are fine. Normally I’d tell you to go out and get fitted for a new pair of running shoes, and to try to find clothes that are not made of cotton (because cotton gets wet with sweat and then flops around). But right now? Pick a comfortable pair of sneakers and whatever feels good on your body. Remember, Rocky became a legend in a gray sweatsuit. Your work-in-the-yard shorts or high school reunion T-shirt will do just fine.
Pick an easy goal. You don’t need to run five miles or even a mile on your first go. How about around the block? Or to the mailbox and back? Or walk to that light pole, run to the corner, then walk to the next intersection? There’s nothing wrong with walk breaks. I still sometimes take them, and my running habit is old enough to be in high school.
Also record your workout: how far you ran, and in what time. You don’t need a GPS watch to do this. Your smartphone’s health tracker works, or you can use a free running app. You can also go back and trace your path with this pedometer. Writing things down allows you to chart your progress, which can provide a psychological boost.
Leave the headphones at home. If you’ve never run, or haven’t run in a while, it’s easy to forget that it is a very strange feeling. You’re hurtling your body through space, then crash stopping it every time your foot hits the ground. Anything not strapped down is going to hurtle and crash with you. At the same time, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings, so that if you are about to cross paths with another person, you can make sure to maintain a six-foot distance. Running feels a bit like a game of Frogger right now. You need to use all of your available senses to make sure you don’t accidentally run into someone. So headphones can stay home for now.
Run again. That’s it! If you’re looking for guidance, our “How to Start Running” guide has an easy schedule. Consistency might be difficult, especially if you’re still heading into work and your schedule is all over the place, or you’re trying to work from home, or you’re trying to work from home and manage your kids’ schooling at the same time while also dealing with the crushing anxiety and stress of living through a global pandemic.
As with many things right now, be kind to yourself and your new running habit. A lot is going on. Running can help, but it shouldn’t be an additional stressor.
And for everyone who is running in these difficult times:
Most of us are running responsibly, but some are not. Crowds of people disregarding social distancing rules have been so bad in places like the 606 Trail in Chicago, Runyon Canyon Park in California and my beloved Valley Forge National Historic Park that all of these places are now closed. Do you want to be in a position where your best option to run a marathon is a balcony? Then knock it off.
My mom called me in tears Tuesday because she said she didn’t feel safe running outside based on how people were crowding her local park. Stop making my mom cry! (We mapped out a route that’s not as pretty, but less crowded, and she’s running again, while also doing workouts indoors.)
When you run outside, keep six feet away from everyone else (except anyone you’ve been self-isolating with in your home). And no spitting! Let’s keep running outside an option for everyone.
If you’ve tried running outside and just feel too anxious about crowds, Wirecutter, the New York Times’s product reviewing company, has treadmill recommendations. But if you are sheltering in place by yourself, you may not be able to safely set it up alone — take note of any recommendations of how many people are needed to lift the box the treadmill comes in (whether you’re buying from this guide or not). Wirecutter has also rounded up free workouts to do from home right now.
How are you running through this? Let me know — I’m on Twitter @byjenamiller. New runners, send me your questions too. I’m here to help.
Jen A. Miller
Author, “Running: A Love Story”
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