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Running during the Corona Virus lockdown
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Running during the Corona Virus lockdown

There have been some negative reports in world’s press about runner’s not respecting other people’s space during this terrible time. It makes sad reading, but we suspect, some of it is justified.

London have banned runners on some paths due to them being too narrow for people to co-exist while remaining a comfortable 2m distance from each other. Reports suggest that the general public is much more concerned about cyclists and runners than fellow walkers and that the 2m distance might not be enough.

People are rightly paranoid about Covid-19. This, coupled with what seems to be an increase in people exercising, is making the general public even more nervous. As an aside, we recently spoke to friends of ours, one who works for New Balance and another who works for a large cycling brand and both are reporting booming sales.

This pandemic is something most of us have never experienced anything like before and hopefully, will never again, but it does make us ask questions about our own personal safety that we might not have considered before. There are concerns over runners getting too close and perhaps leaving a vapour of sweat in the air as we run by. I was pondering this exact though myself while out walking in a park last week when a couple of runners ran by. 

There has been a study by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Eindhoven University of Technology who are saying that social distancing for runners and cyclists needs to be greater than the recommended 2m and great than for people walking. This is due to the effects of slipstream.

Professor Bert Blocken is a specialist in urban physics, wind engineering and sports aerodynamics and is recommending new distancing guidelines for outdoor activities and sports.

Researchers simulated the movement of COVID-19 particles by redeploying methods used to improve the performance of athletes using slipstream.

But while slipstreams help athletes run faster, when it comes to COVID-19, the effect is not so desirable.

When someone breathes, sneezes or coughs while running or cycling, particles stay behind them in the air and anyone running or cycling behind them goes through a cloud of these droplets.

Researchers' recommendation is to stay out of slipstreams, with distancing of 4-5 metres for runners, 10 metres for slow cyclists and 20 metres for fast cyclists.

“People who sneeze or cough spread droplets with a bigger force, but also people who just breathe will leave particles behind”, said Blocken. "The biggest particles create the highest chance of contamination – although they fall down faster, when running through a cloud of them, they still can land on your clothing,” he said.

When it comes to cyclists passing each other, the advice is for this to be done at a 'considerable distance' of at least 20 metres and in a different lane 

"The message is, keep on exercising, but stay out of slipstreams," said Blocken.

This information follows more general research about the distance the Coronavirus now travels. A study conducted recently by scientists at Beijing’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, found that the coronavirus can spread in the air approximately 4m, twice the distance recommended for social distancing. The research focussed on testing air and surface samples from both an ICU and a coronavirus treatment ward in Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan. The particles stay in the air much longer than previously thought. 

We are being bombarded with Covid-19 information on a daily basis and with new research data appearing weekly, it is easy to understand people’s paranoia. As runner’s, let us make it our duty to do what we can to keep people safe and give then a very wide birth. It’s the least we can do and when it is all over, we might just escape with our ‘healthy living’ reputation intact!

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