n early morning run on the Burlington Bike Path. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.
An early morning run on the Burlington Bike Path. Photo Credit: Zach Walbridge.

Between the news of COVID-19, being at home all day and Tiger King episodes on Netflix, getting out for a run has been the most challenging yet therapeutic activity I have been able to give myself these past few weeks.

Navigating the 6 feet social distancing rules on a run should be renamed “defensive running”. But with a little practice, following these 5 tips while developing your own, we hope to help ease your anxiety and encourage you to safely get out for a run. These tips can easily be applied to other activities like walking, hiking or biking. Please note these tips are subject to change via Vermont Department of Health guidelines.

1. Be mindful:
As the weather warms up, there will be more people getting outside as they should be doing. Think about where you want to go and when. If it's a popular area - try and avoid it and go at a different day/time or somewhere else. For example, the Burlington Waterfront on a Saturday afternoon will be busier on a nice day. It might be best to run somewhere else or go earlier in the morning. The same for the trails - once they dry up and it’s OK to use, avoid higher traffic areas.

Staying local is key. Try to stay in your own backyard or neighborhood. If you have to drive, make it less than 10 miles away and if the parking lot is full, go somewhere else. Respect the signs, land and leave no trace. Please leash your dog to avoid any contact with people. Skip the risk: be smart and cautious of where you are going. Look at the terrain and weather to decrease your chances of having to require medical attention if an accident occurs. And finally, this is where I'll put in plug for the Skirack Run Center: make sure you have the right running shoes, especially on a trail!

If we cannot, as a community, practice these social distancing techniques, it is likely the remainder of our open spaces will close due to increased crowds and safety concerns. For a community and economy that is so rooted in the outdoors, it's imperative we do everything we can to keep these spaces open.

2. Be aware of your surroundings:
Because it is recommended to stay 6’ apart, you’ll have to be very aware of who is around you and how you can safely pass someone. For example, if there is someone on both sides of the sidewalk or path, you might have to wait or slow down until it is safe to pass them if you cannot move far enough over to the side of them. Be aware of who is behind you, about to pass and give them space. And no: being "too fast to transmit anything" mindset is not OK.

3. Communicate and be NICE:
If you need someone to move over just ask nicely “mind if I scoot by?”. Don’t be rude or mean. This is new for everyone.

Having to move away from someone, sometimes quickly to create distance is very awkward. I find a smile, making eye contact or actually saying “this is awkward” helps alleviate that feeling and also makes a quick connection we’re all missing.

Being NICE is very important; some people, including yourself might have had no human interaction that day or for quite some time. Everyone’s situation is different, but there is common ground - we are all stressed, anxious and doing our best to handle it all. It’s amazing what a smile, wave or “hello” can do to your own mood and the person reciprocating.

4. Only run with people in your household:
I know this is hard. Running with others is a great way to make the miles go by, but please take a break from your running buddy or group. Try or create an online running group or get creative with a post run cocktail over video chatting. If you have a dog, now is a great time to work on running with them, if they are capable (and again, please leash them).

5. Just getting out is a WIN:
Give yourself credit for being able to pull away from everything going on. It’s hard to do, but I highly recommend getting out at least once a day. Once you are out, be OK with taking it slow, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the "human interaction".

Hopefully these tips for social distance running will help and get you outside! If you have any additional ones that you find helpful, please comment below and/or tag us in your social posts. Finally, please share this blog post with others so they too can follow these tips.

- Michelle Peters, Skirack Marketing