COVID-19: What is the impact on Runners around the USA?

By: David Willard
April 10, 2020

No doubt, it is an understatement to say that covid-19 has had a major impact on all our lives.
But that impact varies depending on where we live and how active the outbreak and
restrictions are in our area of the world. As part of an online running and training community
(Runners Connect) with members from around the world, I decided to ask some of them about
the impact covid-19 has had on their ability to train, run and stay active. I selected 5 runners
from around the world and 5 runners from the USA to share their experiences and thoughts by
answering the following 6 questions:

1. Please describe the area you live and run in (city, suburban, rural, etc.)
2. What is the current covid-19 situation where you live (hot-spot, some cases, few cases,
3. What are the current guidelines/restrictions are in place where you live (shelter in place,
curfews, essential business only, etc.)?
4. What adjustments have you made to your training/running due to covid-19 and why?
5. Did you have any races you were training for? If so, what is the status of the race?
(canceled, postponed to later date, virtual only, no change, etc.)
6. Any other comments or recommendations you would like to share at this time regarding
your running/training activities due to covid-19?

Following are the comments from our USA participants. You can read the worldwide responses

Deidra P.
New Orleans, LA (USA)

1. I live in a suburban area. I typically run on woodsy, residential 2-lane streets in the pre-
dawn darkness. Waking up before my family is least impactful to my schedule as a wife
and mom. Most of my neighbors commute south, across North America’s longest bridge
(at 23 miles long) to work in New Orleans or along the River.
2. New Orleans has the highest rate of Covid-19 in the US. Experts speculate that Mardi
Gras brought and propagated the virus, but in truth, we are an overweight population
who hug and kiss “hello” and love to share good stories and food.
3. We have had statewide order to shelter in place and essential business only for a few
weeks in attempt to “flatten the curve”.
4. Covid-19 has made us more dependent on technology and turned me into a single
parent. I call my husband so we can Facetime. Our marriage is maintained via Facetime.
Via Facetime he “watches” our sleeping 9-year old so I can run. My husband is a hostage
at a TX utility plant. He has been working in TX and is considered “essential” to the grid
electrical production. His customers continue to pay a premium and won’t let him leave TX
5. All of my spring races have been postponed. I am adjusting. I love to run. I love to cheer
people on. I love to high-5. I love to race. I have opted to run two virtual races. When
the day comes, it will be odd to race, to BE alone competing against myself.
6. In this area the virus has made us very aware of our health and life-style choices. In the
evenings a group of us neighbors walk, albeit 6′; apart; it’s good to get out of the house!
We talk about food and drink, “mais bien sur”;, but nowadays we somehow discuss fat
and health and websites and cooking more than we debate restaurants and specialties
and chefs. For today it seems, we all want to do a little better. Covid-19 is horrible, but
in its wake, there will be some good.

Kiki D.
Michigan (USA)

1. Rural, southeast Michigan
2. As of April 6, my county had 143 cases, but we’re about an hour from Detroit, which is a
major hotspot.
3. Our governor has us on a “Stay home, stay safe” order. Only essential businesses are
open. We are encouraged to get outside for exercise (solo), but to stay 6 ft away from
4. I have not made too many changes to my training although I’m starting to rethink this.
Before Covid-19, I had a rails-to-trails pathway mostly to myself. Now, with schools
closed and people unemployed, there are more people out walking and biking. People
don’t always follow the 6 ft. away rule. I recently saw a guy riding his bike with a
handgun in his back pocket. In addition, recreational marijuana is now legal in Michigan,
so it seems like a lot of people are smoking pot to de-stress. I normally run after work in
the evenings, but I may need to become an early morning runner to avoid these things.
5. I had 2 goal races (a 5k and a 10k) planned for the spring. One gave us the option to
defer or do a virtual race. The other rescheduled for the fall, but also allowed to defer or
do a virtual. I’ve also signed up for the Detroit International Half Marathon in October,
which runs through Canada. We’ll see if borders are open again by then.
6. I feel grateful to be healthy and still able to get outside to run. Any day I can run is a
good day! If we do go on lockdown, then I’ll try to focus on what I can do indoors to stay
strong and healthy.

Bob M.
Naples, FL (USA)

1. My wife and I live in Naples FL., but on the east side right next to a state forest, so we
are rural!!
2. We have a few cases of the covid-19 locally, and a couple of deaths, however nothing
close to us.
3. Our gated community is shelter in place and has closed all amenities including the pool– Boo.
4. I have cut back to maintenance runs of 5-10 miles–and no hard speed reps., except for
30 second strides after my shorter runs. My weekly mileage has decreased from 42+
miles/week, to around 35 miles/week.
5. All of my future races have been cancelled
6. I have kept my 2 sets of push-ups at 80 per set, but now I have set a new goal of
100/set– daily–by May 1st. That will increase core strength and help when I get back to
the much harder race specific workouts after this covid-19 virus is in check, and we are
back to racing again!!!

Bjorg K.
New York, NY (USA)

1. Manhattan, as urban as it gets.
2. The current hot spot in the country.
3. Work from home for all non-essential workers, grocery stores and pharmacies remain
open, some restaurants open for delivery and take away only. We are still allowed to go
outside as long as we comply with social distance guidelines (6 feet) and are encouraged
to keep it short and sweet and cover our nose and mouth. The city parks being crowded
has been an issue, though city streets around me are pretty empty.
4. Lower than average running mileage and less intensity in the last few weeks (also
reflecting the end of peak marathon training in early March), trying to keep most runs
around an hour and timing runs to times with fewer people outside (run early mornings
and in bad weather, new routes), also incorporating non-running warm-up and cool-
down inside (stairwell of apartment building, jump rope, walk), more strength training
at home and yoga via zoom.
5. Goal race since July 2019 was the Tokyo marathon scheduled for March 1 which was
cancelled a few weeks before the race (I have a guaranteed spot for the 2021 race), and
my replacement race (Shamrock marathon on March 22) was cancelled as well. I was
signed up for a number of spring races (5ks, 4 milers, 10ks), these have all been
cancelled or postponed. Unclear when racing will resume in NYC.
6. I am struggling with some guilt about being outside and contributing to the problem of
overcrowding in parts of the city when the recommendation is to stay home as much as
possible. Running is a great source of stress relief at the best of time so for the time
being my compromise with myself is to continue to run but making an effort to run
when fewer people are outside.

Gregg F.
Novato, CA (USA)

1. We live in Novato, CA in the North Bay of San Francisco area. Fortunately, we back up to the Mt Burdell Open Space which is a 1,627-acre preserve. Mt Burdell rises from Sea Level to 1,558 feet, so we can get all the elevation we need. There are also plenty of runner/biker friendly roads with a nice variety of hills and flats as our community sits in a valley.
2. As regards the Covid-19 situation, we were one of the original hot spots, but also one of the first to Shelter-in-Place so we’ve limited the number of cases and deaths here in Marin County and throughout the Bay Area.
3. Are schools are already closed for the 2019-2020 year which ends on June 11th. The Shelter-in-Place has evolved so that Parks, Beaches and Open Spaces are now restricted to Walk-in or Bike access only. No driving to or cars allowed and they’re policing it very closely as initially we had a lot of traffic from San Francisco on the weekends. People are now very respectful as they’ve learned of the seriousness of this pandemic.
4.As it happens, my running schedule is much more fluid as I can pretty much run any time of the day, so I’ve been picking better weather an d times than I would usually be forced to run. The one big change is that my sleep patterns have been all over the place due to the anxiety, I guess. My Polar watch has registered some really bad nights of sleep and I can feel it on the roads and trails. Because of this, I’ve backed off of a few harder workouts and gone 85-90% if my sleep the night before was bad. In general, I can run any trails or roads without any hassles or too much traffic.
5. In 30-minutes time I had all 4 of my 2020 Marathons cancelled or postponed in the case of Boston. That was really frustrating because I had 600+ miles of training under my belt and was just starting to peak in my training. As a result, I’ve decided to run the RunnersConnect Virtual Half Marathon to see how this training cycle has impacted my fitness. I switched over to a HM training schedule and adjusted pretty well. It was actually fun doing some shorter/faster distances this past month.
6. MY TAKEAWAY after an initial dose of self-pity and disappointment with the cancellations was to remind myself that I essentially sign-up for races so that i can train and I train so that I can stay fit. So, bottom line nothing was lost because I entered this pandemic in very good health which gives me a great chance of beating it even if I do contract it eventually. So, I run on! It’s really been a nice release during this Shelter-in-Place with two young children to home school.

This is how some of our runners around the USA are impacted and adjusting. To see how
runners from around the world are dealing with covid-19, check out are Worldwide article here.

Let us know how you are adjusting to running in this current covid-19 world?

Stay safe and healthy!