How To Run Safely Outside During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Apr 23, 2020, 7:30 PM | Updated: 7:31 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — For many, taking a run or walk outside is the only saving grace they have during this time of isolation. While it’s important to get outside, it’s also important to do it the right way. Health experts said there is proper running etiquette Utahns should follow to keep everyone safe on the trails.

Kim Herget has been missing her favorite running buddy recently. “When she was 4, she said that she wanted to start running with me,” Herget said. Every year, she and her now 7-year-old niece Victoria run about five races together.

“She’s so spunky, so much energy,” Herget said of her niece.

But because of COVID-19, they are choosing to play it safe. They haven’t been running together since the pandemic started.

Usually, they prefer to run trails like the Jordan River Parkway.

“It’s nice to be able to get out and see nature,” Herget said.

But lately, Herget’s made a few adjustments to her regular running routine.

“I’ve definitely noticed an increase in foot traffic. People are just out walking,” she explained. “So I figured it was too dangerous to go out and interact with people. I didn’t want to be breathed on.”

Instead, Herget was opting to run neighborhood roads where she can cross the street easily to avoid oncoming people.

“Because it’s easier to cross the street than it is to like get to the other side of Jordan River Parkway which is about six feet apart,” she said.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Julie Roberts, a nurse practitioner at the LiVe Well Center, is a runner herself.

“If you’re sharing a trail with someone you have to step aside and let them pass,” she explained. Roberts said it’s everyone’s responsibility to take precautions and encourages people to lead by example.

“You should be the one to maintain the social distancing and really curve wide,” Roberts said.

Roberts said six feet is further than people might think. She measured the walking path at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City and found it to be exactly six feet, noting it’s challenging to share the pathway with a friend.

She said proper distancing while running is especially important, “because you are breathing heavier,” allowing germs to spread further.

“Be mindful of wind. Don’t run right behind somebody,” Roberts said, since the wind draft can also carry germs.

Roberts told people to pack a mask just in case they find themselves in a position where they cannot avoid someone.

“If you don’t have it, you can’t use it,” she said.

Herget is also bringing a water bottle when she is out on a long run.

“I don’t want to stop at a drinking fountain that somebody else has drunk from,” Herget said.

Roberts noted many public water foundations and bathrooms are closed during the pandemic and recommend people plan accordingly.

She told people to avoid touching crosswalk buttons and instead use their elbow. She also encouraged people to head outside during less opportune times when there aren’t as many people out, whether that’s early in the morning or on a rainy day.

Perhaps most important, Roberts reminded people that although they should social distance, they can still go out of their way to wave and smile at other runners.

“(These are) hard times and smiles are a great way to perk up someone’s day,” she said.

Although Herget misses running with her niece, she’s finding other ways to stay connected.

“We’ve been waving at each other through windows and (FaceTiming),” she said.

And she knows they’ll be able to run together again soon.

Roberts said if you are hitting the payment more often now, make sure your shoes are in good condition to prevent injuries. She also urges people to refrain from stepping into the road to create a six-foot barrier. She said it’s not worth getting hit by a car.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at

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How To Run Safely Outside During The Coronavirus Pandemic