Some of the lockdown restrictions affecting England in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are slowly beginning to lift as we all begin to get used to what many are calling the ‘new normal’.
As of 1st June 2020, people in England have been able to meet outside in groups of up to six, as long as those from different households remain socially distanced, staying at least two metres apart. As a result, small group runs, some outdoor boot camps and activities such as fishing and golf can take place.
This means people can spend a little more time in nature, which can be a great boost for your mental health, while the chance to run or walk on different terrain can challenge you physically too.
More people exercising outdoors also means more opportunity for the tensions between joggers and pedestrians to grow, as they battle for pavement space, while trying to maintain social distancing.
However, by staying alert, mindful of others and keeping your distance, there’s room for everyone to exercise safely in our ‘new normal’ world.
Safe Running Tips
From carefully timing your run to maintaining social distancing, here are our tips for getting back out there safely:
Plan Your Run in Advance
As the pandemic continues, planning is going to be key to exercising safely outdoors. Many people who are still working from home will be going out for a walk or a run during their lunch break, before work or after they’ve finished for the day, so these times may be a little busier.
Some schoolchildren are also back at school, so try to avoid going for your run during the school-run time slot too.
Decide what time to go out to exercise and plan your route in advance with these factors in mind. Try to avoid areas close to schools at drop off and pick up times, and steer clear of parks when they’re likely to be busy.
Try to choose quieter, well-lit streets or open spaces and aim for times of day that are less busy to keep yourself and others as safe as possible.
Warm Up at Home
A proper warm-up is essential for stretching your body and preparing it for exercise to reduce your risk of strain or injury; in pre-COVID world, you may have done this upon arrival at the park, but in the current climate, it’s advisable to warm up at home instead.
Warming up at home means you don’t need to lean on any benches or other equipment that may carry infection. It also means you’ll be less likely to get in other people’s way, helping everyone around you to get fresh air and enjoy exercise safely too.
Follow the same approach for your cool down – find out more about how to help your body to recover after a workout:
Keep Your Distance
The UK government’s current social distancing guidance advises people from different households to keep at least two metres apart in public. This means that runners and pedestrians alike need to stay alert and be mindful of anyone passing closely by them.
Give other people plenty of room when passing by them – you might feel a bit overdramatic giving them such a wide berth at first, but it can be reassuring for people to see that others are taking social distancing seriously and are proactively trying to protect their health.
Although running to music or a podcast can be incredibly motivating, it’s important to stay alert to avoid bumping into someone else accidentally to help prevent the risk of infection. Instead, use the opportunity to be more mindful of the world around you; take the time to notice changes in the leaves, soak up the sunrise, watch the sunset or listen to the birdsong – and listen out for other people approaching too.
Be Mindful of Others
If you are set to pass by someone else very closely, don’t be afraid to shout that you’re ‘passing on your right’ as you approach – think of it like a cyclist using their bell to signal their approach.
If you’re approaching someone who’s wearing headphones, is looking after a child or it becomes clear that they’ve not heard you or aren’t able to move out of your way for any other reason, it’s your responsibility to keep your distance. Now is not the time to be worrying about your personal best – give the widest berth possible at all times.
Watch Your Speed
Jogging at a steady pace rather than sprinting can make it easier to see who you’re approaching, giving you more time to distance yourself appropriately.
With some people venturing outside for the first time in months, anxiety levels may be higher than usual and you can play your part by running at a considerate pace.
Keep to Yourself
Take care not to touch any gates, pedestrian crossing buttons, fences, benches or any other surfaces during your run – you’re likely to end up touching your face to wipe away sweat while you’re exercising and this is how infection can spread.
The same advice applies to other outdoor sports that are now able to take place with social distancing, such as golf, tennis and fishing. Take your own equipment, carry hand sanitiser with you and remember the two-metre rule at all times.
Avoid having to spend unnecessary time in the shop and take your own food with you too. Find ideas for protein-packed snacks to keep you fuelled throughout your day: