A Guide to Running Through the Apocalypse
Running is one of the only safe outdoor exercises today. Here’s how to enjoy it (and stay safe).
When the middle school near Boston where she works as a librarian was shut down by coronavirus fears — followed by the gym where she boxes and the YMCA where she works out — Jamie Lightfoot found herself housebound and frustrated.
Even walking with friends seemed a bad idea. And with none of those regular outlets available to her, says Lightfoot, “I was eating a ton and just sitting around.”
So she did something that she hasn’t done regularly in five years: laced up and headed outside for a run.
“It felt really good,” says Lightfoot, 40, just in from finishing her first three miles. In addition to the physical benefits, the jog outdoors took her away from the barrage of negativity in the news and on her social media feed. Other runners and walkers waved and said hello, which seldom happened before. “It was almost like people were craving the human connection.”
At a time when those kinds of connections are becoming few and far between, and when gyms are closing and work has moved home, the new reality of social distancing is leaving few options besides running for people who want to stay fit and need to get out of the house (there are plenty of at-home workout options). Running doesn’t require much equipment, poses little health risk, and has the added advantage of boosting endorphins and distracting from the grim reality of the pandemic.
“People are desperate for some physical exercise,” says Matt Mills, a running coach in Los Angeles and founder of Coaching on the Run. “A lot of them are going out for a run. It’s safe. It’s easy. If you have a pair of sport shoes, it’s free.”
Running stores report a steady stream of novices among their customers.
Volume at his shop may be lower than in a typical early spring, says Mark Plaatjes, owner of In Motion Running in Boulder Colorado, but “we have a lot of people that have come in who are, like, ‘I can’t go to the gym, the rec centers are closed, I can’t meet my friends, but I can…