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

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 worldwide participants. You can read the USA responses

Nicholas M.
Val d’Oise, France

1. I live in a little town of 4,500 people, in the countryside, about 20 km north of Paris,
2. France has just passed the 10,000 dead. About 850 people yesterday.
3. From today, Wednesday 8 or April, there are new restrictions (in my area, as well as in
Paris): no running between 10 am and 7 pm (10h-19h). Otherwise, people can run for
one hour every day, alone, at a maximum distance of 1 km (about 0.6 mile) from home.
4. Previously I used to run 5 days/week, for about 50 miles. Now, I run 7 days/week, for a
maximum of one hour, of course – but this lowered my weekly miles to about 30.
5. I was scheduled to run the Paris Marathon on April 5th: it was postponed to October
18th. There was also a triathlon on May 17th which was postponed to next year! And I
want to run a 10K in June, but I have no news about it.
6. A strange comment is that this schedule, for no more than one hour per day, is much
easier for a family life! I have no problem making calculations to know how much it will take me: one-hour max!
But there is no more a long run – as the maximum I can run in one hour is 6 miles…

Mario R.
Ontario, Canada

1. I live in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Oakville is located 38 Km from Downtown Toronto
one of the largest cities in Canada.
2. There are approximately 4,700 COVID Cases in Ontario with 153 deaths. Majority have
been in the nursing homes. There was one death in Oakville who was 50ish!
3. The City of Oakville has declared a state of emergency. All non-essential services have
been closed. This includes all restaurants, sports facilities, recreational, movies, art
centres, etc. There is a prohibition of gatherings of people higher than 5 people. Parks
and schools are closed. People are encouraged to stay home and not to go out unless
they are going for grocery shopping, to the pharmacy or to assist an elderly. People are
being stopped and questioned purpose of being out. Officers can give a fine to those
violating the restrictions imposed by the estate of emergency.
4. I have been running on my own early in the morning. There is no traffic and no people
walking on the streets. Police have not stopped me yet, as it is very early (04:10am). The
only things that I get to see are wildlife such as skunks, racoons, coyotes and hear a lot
of birds! The social aspects of running have been cancelled for the time being. There is
no more going for coffee or a drink after the runs. While it has eliminated an enjoyable
aspect of talking to friends after the runs, it has given me so much time back! Now I
finish my run, have coffee with my wife and we can do the food shopping earlier and
then still have time to do other things.
5. I was training to run the Boston Marathon. I had registered for the Around the Bay (30
Km) run in Hamilton, Ontario. This later race was in preparation for Boston. As we know,
the Boston marathon was postponed to September 14. Similarly, the Around the Bay
was postponed to November. I had also registered for a trail run, Sulphur Springs (20
Km) but it was postponed too.
6. Having the goal race in mind, it is a great motivator to get up early and go running. With
the races being cancelled or postponed for later, it eliminated the motivation to get up
early to do the training. However, thanks to the on-line group (Runners Connect), I am
motivated to start another type of training, such as cross training. While I knew that I
had to do cross training, there was not enough time to do it. Now, I do have the time
and want to establish the new routine so that when I get back on my marathon training,
I will have cross training as part of my exercise routine. My job is considered essential;
hence I have continued coming to the office to work. I have found that most of the
meetings are on-line and find myself sitting most of the day. This has made me aware of
the need to continue running as this is the only exercise I get during the day. Walking
my older dog does not burn too many calories!

Carmen L-A
Madrid, Spain

1. I live and run on the suburbs of Madrid, Spain, I have 2 options for running, a huge hilly
forest/park, or I drive to Madrid Rio and run on a river path.
2. Covid-19 situation: we are in state of emergency and complete lockdown. Spain has the
largest amount of cases in Europe and only second to the US in the world.
3. We are allowed out for essential business only.
4. I haven´t been able to run for more than a month (due to covid-19), so started doing
cardio indoors (mostly kickboxing videos and strength training) until I hurt my calf last
week and resorted to just Pilates and rehab.
5. I was training for a half marathon beginning of April, and the Boston Marathon 20th
April. Both postponed to the fall.
6. At the beginning the thought of not being able to run would really make me depressed,
but after seeing what is happening in the world you realize that running is not the be all
and end all. The body adapts physically and mentally, I am currently more flexible and
toned than when I just ran all the time (I rarely used to strength train). I think it is
important to ease into a new training program slowly, as I think the issue with my calf
has been overtraining trying to compensate for the lack of running.

Alexandre F.
Sao Paulo, Brazil

1. I live in Sao Paulo, the largest city of Latin America (12 million people), I am in a dense
neighborhood, most buildings are more than 20 stories high. My neighborhood is mostly
residential with plenty of restaurants, bars, bakeries, etc. and lots of trees, it’s a nice
neighborhood in a big city. The greatest thing around is Ibirapuera Park, a beautiful
green area with lakes, many trees and paths to walk and run exactly 1.3km away from
2. Sao Paulo has the most concentration of Covid-19 cases of the 12,000 reported in Brazil,
3,754. Not sure how many deaths, but in the whole country is 534 so far. The good news
is that the increase rate that was around 12% per day is lower now, around 8%, so it
seems like the virus is losing its contamination strength, maybe due to the lockdown, I
don´t know, but no matter what if the curve is flattening it is a great sign.
3. We are in a "medium" lockdown, people are suggested to stay at home as much as
possible, stores are closed, restaurants are closed. Open are the grocery markets, else
you need to ask delivery because all restaurants are allowed to delivery (or you can walk
to them and wait for your food outside to take away).
4. I keep running 4 days a week, but, since the park is closed, I am running around it- it´s 3
miles round, and no traffic lights, so it´s not bad. What I miss are the trails inside the
park and the water fountains, so I have to bring my own drinks for longer runs. I am
pushing hard on some workouts, but don´t go to that extra edge as I used to. Trying to
keep my body in check and don´t overstress it, it´s not the right moment to do that, I
think. What I am doing more are strength exercises at home, and I am already seeing
the difference, feeling my core and upper body getting stronger! I also could lose some extra
weight I was carrying on, 2kg, so I am almost at my ideal weight now (1kg to go),
and didn´t do any diet, just controlling and eating better (more on that on the next
5. Yes, I was getting ready for Rome Marathon, March 29 th . After it was cancelled I signed
up for Sao Paulo Marathon, April 5th, but this was also cancelled when the pandemic
escalated. Now I will run the RC Virtual Half Marathon in two weeks, next would be the
Newport Marathon in October if everything stays on course until then.
6. Running has helped my sanity; it is definitely an important part of my life. If you are
running solo, I think you are fine, just try to avoid getting too close to other people.
Here, some people are still running or walking around the park like I do, but we respect
the social distance, so we are fine. This is a nasty disease, I am wearing masks when I go
to the market to buy food, leaving my shoes at the entrance door and avoiding taking
elevators with other people, besides washing frequently my hands and using alcohol gel
whenever I have to go outside. Maybe as important is trying to do a routine out of my
home work, so, I am taking a good breakfast, cooking my lunch with my wife, trying to
eat dinner before 8PM and going to bed before 11PM (I normally wake up at 7AM).
Besides that, I am eating much fruits as a coffee break (usually with yogurt), changed
the coffee for green tea, added salad to all my meals, I am trying to boost my immune
system as much as possible with good nutrition and good sleep. For my mind I am on a
19 days streak doing my meditation first thing in the morning (just 10 or 15 minutes), it
does bring some clarity and focus to it all. It´s been hard, but I have a good partner here
with me, my wife, and this makes it all easier. I am also trying to talk more with my
friends and parents, it´s good for me and its good for them as well, I miss bonding with
them more often. But I have faith the worse has gone by now and it will be over soon.

Kumar R.
Bangalore, India

1. I live in Bangalore, the third largest city in India. The streets are normally quite busy, so I
have preferred to do most of my runs in one of several large parks in the city.
2. Bangalore, being an IT Hub and also having considerable amount of international traffic,
saw one of the first Covid-19 cases in India in late February. Although it is considered a
Covid-19 hot-spot in India, growth has been limited through aggressive contact tracing
and isolation. So currently Bangalore accounts for less than 1% of about 5000 cases (as
of April 8th) in India.
3. A shelter in place order has been in effect from March 22nd and its enforcement has
gotten stricter with time. Currently only essential businesses and personnel are given
passes that allows them to be out on the streets. Others can go out for groceries etc.
but not for a run or a walk.
4. When BAA decided to postpone the Boston Marathon on March 13th, I decided to scale
back my training to reduce the risk of loss of immunity, based on some scientific studies
of susceptibility of marathon runners to upper respiratory illnesses during peak training
periods or just after a marathon. After the lock-down in effect from March 22nd, I have
been basically home bound and do my runs on a treadmill and workouts in my small
home gym.
5. I had been training for the Boston Marathon, which is now expected to take place on
September 14th. I currently hope to resume training for this marathon in June. I also
plan to run the New York Marathon on November 1st. But this would depend on how
Covid-19 evolves by then.
6. As a 71-year-old runner, I am being quite careful about maintaining good health and
fitness, while not overdoing the training. I have reduced the runs to 5 days a week,
limiting most of them to less than an hour, except for one long run a week of less than 2
hours. I am doing fartlek’s on alternating days to include some speed, but keep them at
a moderate intensity. Have been continuing with strength and resistance training, also
at a reduced intensity.

This is how some of our runners around the world are impacted and adjusting. To see how
runners from around the USA are dealing with covid-19, check out are USA article here.
Let us know how you are adjusting to running in this current covid-19 world?
Stay safe and healthy!