Running RX: Running During COVID-19

APRIL 9, 2020 - ATLANTA --Running During COVID-19: A Northside Hospital Q&A

By Dr. Vonda Wright

Is it safe to run outside?

Running is the perfect way to build a better body and release stress during these uncertain times. Social distancing requires us to run alone on trails, roads, tracks or parks, allowing 6-10 feet between ourselves and others. The key is not to be within breathing distance of others, and outdoors is the perfect place.

But ALONE is the operative word. The only buddies you should be running with are your dogs or someone who lives with you who is not quarantined.

Should I run if I have any symptoms of COVID-19, or flu?

Upper respiratory symptoms make running difficult regardless of the cause. In these times of extreme caution, being evaluated for illness or resting are the best options.

What should I do at crosswalks when I have to press the button? Or if I need to use the restroom on the route?

Use your elbow to push the crosswalk button. Be careful not to cluster at crosswalks with other runners who are also waiting. Remain 6-10 feet away and out of breathing distance! If you have to use a restroom and there is no soap or hand sanitizer but it is an emergency, be extremely careful not to touch your face, and wash your hands immediately upon reaching a sink.

If I see someone else running, what's the best procedure?

Stay 6-10 feet away and turn your back to them as they pass. You're not trying to be rude, you're trying to stay healthy. You can always wave to them before you turn.

Is the virus carried in perspiration?

Currently, CDC evidence details the transmission of the COVID-19 virus via respiratory droplets. That being said, this is not a time to share equipment or towels, or to be within "breathing/sweating distance" of another runner.

What should I do if have to blow my nose during a run?

Ahhhh, the snot rocket. Under any circumstances, the runners' traditional method for dealing with respiratory secretions is uncleanly and frankly disgusting. During these pandemic times, the responsible and cleanly way to deal with secretions during running (short of rocketing them directly into a vat of 60% alcohol) is to collect them via tissue carried in the little key pocket in your shorts or in the phone case strapped to your arm and dispose of them at home prior to washing your hands. Running is an individual sport, but this is the time to care for our whole community.

Is there anything different I should do to prepare to run?

There is nothing special you need to do in preparing for a run while we are under social distancing rules except to choose a route where you are least likely to encounter other runners. But, don't drink from public fountains en route.

Is there anything different I should do after returning?

Immediately upon return from a run, before you drink or go to the restroom, WASH YOUR HANDS.

Dr. Vonda Wright is a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic sports medicine surgeon who serves as the chief of Northside Hospital Sports Medicine. Visit for more information.

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