Community Running outside is a tenuous gift. Eight things every runner must practice...

    Running outside is a tenuous gift. Eight things every runner must practice to stop making non-runners so mad.


    A backlash against runners is building and it’s essential we all practice common courtesy and advanced precaution or else, like we’ve seen in France, Italy and Spain, our right to run outdoors will be taken away. We bother civilians when we close their roads and they laugh at us in our tight florescent clothing. These eight things, practiced by each of us, will help us maintain something that, at least for me, is very central in keeping me sane. “We’re all in this together,” everyone keeps saying: so let’s us runners protect this, or else we’re going to be cooped up—without end—inside. (Plus, no one wants beans thrown at them, right?)

    8. No running in groups. And this is serious. And people are watching. Three people from my run club were out together and someone called the store to complain. You have to do this alone right now, or with one other person—at a distance. Big groups of runners will be ticketed, or worse: They’ll ruin things for everyone else.

    7. Stay away from walkers. I’m guilty of this all the time, and I’m training myself to get better. It’s not cool to bare down on a walker and narrowly miss hitting them, just to avoid breaking stride. As bikes don’t belong on the sidewalks, unfortunately, right now, assume the same goes for runners.

    6. Don’t spit. Right now, spit is assumed to be lethal. In the best circumstances, it’s gross (although certainly understandable at a race, or even a hard workout). But these are the sort of things that civilians are looking for, and if we’re pegged as out-of-control spitters, we will be vilified and even, perhaps, shut down.

    5. When running a virtual race, don’t run the race course. It would be wicked, of course, to race Around the Bay on the actual legendary hills, but we can’t do it because it would invite a crowd. If you must, try it before 6 a.m. or after 10:30 p.m., when you know no one else will be out. We have got to practice social distancing while long distancing (besides, do you really want to run those Around the Bay hills without your time winding up on Sportstats?)

    4. Take it slow. The last thing we want is runners getting injured, winding up in the hospital, and adding a drain on the system. If you’ve never done speed work or 20 kilometres at once, don’t do it now. Get some air. Get some exercise. But you don’t have to go crazy. Pace yourself. COVID-19 is a marathon. And we know from marathons, right?

    3. Forget the high five. And don’t share water bottles. And wash your hands when you get home. (But now I just sound like your mother).

    2. It’s not more imperative for a runner to wear a mask than anyone else. And this is the controversy we’re all currently embracing. André Picard told me we don’t necessarily need to wear a mask when running. If you want to wear it, wear it. If not—at least according to Canada’s most in the know journalist, a runner and a 25-time marathon finisher—that’s fine.

    1. Smile at the people you encounter. What civilians will think of runners is however we behave towards them right now. If we’re courteous, respectful, patient and sane; if we’re generous, watchful, alert and calm; if we’re approachable, solo, composed and self-contained, then we’ll be able to run outside, no matter how long this lasts. And we won’t have a country of non-runners who call us joggers thinking we’re jerks.

    Pictured is Malindi Elmore, fastest Canadian female marathon runner of all-time. Shot by Cassandra Heinzman at Waterfront Park in Kelowna, BC (a place where Malindi can still run … for now)


    1. Sorry you’re not going to be on the right side of history! On this day of remembrance Vimy when our forefathers fathers went to war and you can’t exercise at home is sad.

    2. I have always practiced some distancing from oncoming walkers, dogs (they like to try and eat me for some reason) and even more so today. Agreed on acknowledging others when approaching and distancing myself, people are very receptive and usually raise a hand in thanks! We are all in this together, so let’s take care of each other!!!! WASH YOUR HANDS…. and be respectful! Take Care ALL… Gordon (Ottawa)

    3. That Belgian/Dutch study is a social media post that has not been verified and even more importantly, has not been peer-reviewed. Again, be wary of what you read and consider as fact when it comes only from social media!

      When I have been out running (pretty much daily) I have not routinely seen etiquette problems. However, it never hurts to be reminded…although I don’t think that I could ever ‘bear’ down on a walker, simply because I am always running with my two dogs. With a running leash coming from my waist, it is probably about 3 1/2-4 feet from there down to the coupler…the coupler adds on another foot, which takes us to the dogs’ backs. Then, the distance from the middle of the dogs’ backs to their noses (in the case of the bigger, leading dog) is a good 20-22 inches. So that’s pretty much 6 ft. right there…at minimum required distancing, therefore, I would be actually crashing into the walker! (Maybe more of us should run with dogs right now!) Seriously, there is another very good reason for giving both walkers and cyclists a wide berth: If you come up from behind a bit too close, you may actually startle them which could result in an unpredictable jump or movement causing you to collide with them…

    4. Great article Ben! I feel you left out an important safety point. The safest way to run is facing the oncoming traffic unless you’re on a path or sidewalk. Never have your back facing traffic.

    5. Good tips, but you missed choosing your time of day strategically. Don’t go when the pretty afternoon sun calls everyone out for a stroll. Go out early or very late and avoid the conflicts entirely.

      And run solo (which is more likely when you get your miles at dawn). Even 1 companion makes a group that takes up too much space. And you’re going to infect each other anyway spending that much time together breathing heavily, even 2m apart

    6. Great tips! Thanks. However walking is also banned in Spain. It is police enforced. Only trips to the pharmacy, groceries or dog walking permitted. So runners are not set upon😁.

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