Coronavirus – Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Coronavirus – You Can’t Outrun It

Let’s face it, no matter how hard you try you can’t outrun coronavirus (this strain is COVID-19). You don’t need me to tell you what it is, it is everywhere and for good reason. Even if it is a mild illness for the majority of people it can still be enough to knock you off your feet. More serious cases can lead to pneumonia, organ failure, or other potentially fatal symptoms.  While most runners are going to be fit and healthy so unlikely to hit the more serious end of the scale, the virus is very infectious so you will not be immune from catching it.

So how could COVID-19 affect runners?

Mannequin's wearing face masks on Edinburgh Street
Taken on my training run this morning

Self Isolation

The virus has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days. That means that you could have the virus with no symptoms for a couple of weeks. In many countries, including the UK, are asking people who have been in direct contact with those with COVID-19 or who have recently returned from an area of the world with high infection rates to self-isolate for two weeks.  The NHS details what self-isolation is but essentially you will be staying indoors, on your own, for two weeks. Unless you are lucky enough to own a treadmill you will be unlikely to run.

The dreaded treadmill
You may be restricted to the dreadmill

How can you maintain fitness levels during self isolation?

Cancellation of Events

Several of the world’s largest marathons have been postponed, cancelled or cut back in participation numbers. This started with Tokyo, one of the six marathon majors, cancelling the event for everyone but elite runners or wheelchair athletes. Paris has moved to the Autumn, as has Barcelona.

At the time of writing the London Marathon is going ahead but the UK Government has not ruled out cancelling the event should we move from the containment phase to the delay phase. What they will have to weigh up is whether the risks of coronavirus outweigh the risks of cancelling the marathon. The view is that even if they cancel the marathon a huge number of runners will run it anyway. Without road closures this would be hugely dangerous. When you also consider the lack of water, first aid and toilet facilities you begin to introduce a whole host of new health hazards.

I think that there is a good chance that London will be delayed. If it is, you have to feel for the people who have trained for a year to break the world record for a marathon run whilst eating a Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle every mile but that is the sacrifice we have to make to keep us all safe.

Travel Bans, Exclusion Zones and Curfews

Me carrying a Tesco Shopping Bag on a run
Getting my supermarket run practice in

In some areas of Italy you are only allowed to move around with a good reason. So, going to work or the supermarket may be fine but running around the streets sweating and breathing heavily may be considered frivolous and get you in a spot of bother. If that is a rule implemented where you are then you could always run commute or run home with your shopping.

Exclusion zones may mean that you are unable to access your usual training routes, maybe you live in the city but train on the trails in the countryside. This will have to be something that we all have to live with and accept. However, if the movies about virus outbreaks I have seen are accurate then roads will soon be overgrown with foliage giving us trails and as an added bonus we will be able to run away from the mutant dogs roaming the streets. I am not sure that this is likely but you have to be optimistic in times like these.

Are there any Pros to Coronavirus for Runners?

I guess that the people who train in Elevation Masks will no longer get strange looks when they are out from their evening 5k.

If the London Marathon is postponed to the autumn then there will be fewer people entering the ballot in when it opens in April. You might finally get your name drawn out the hat. Meaning you could run London 2021 without having to raise £38742.29 for a charity you have only just heard of but you are now their biggest cheerleader.

Marked Safe From Coronavirus - 16 Pack of Andrex Toilet Roll
Despite the rumours, toilet roll does not cure COVID-19

Some predictions suggest that at the peak of the outbreak one in five people may be too ill to work at any one time. If you are too ill to work you are too ill to Parkrun. That means on the weeks you are not in self isolation or ill with the virus you stand a very good chance of topping your age grade.

Oh and while we are suffering a shortage of toilet paper after the recent spate of panic buying, we can rest easy in the knowledge that we are less likely to suffer the dreaded runners tummy than we were when we were training properly.

Coronavirus, is it really that serious?

I guess this is a matter of opinion. It will probably make a vast number of us ill but no more ill than a bad cold or mild flu. However, for those with underlying medical conditions or the elderly this is a whole different story. With the possibility of so many people sick at one time, the additional strain on welfare services, the knock on effects on the global supply chain, financial markets crashing and the fact that we do not know enough about coronavirus yet then I would say it is serious.

As runners it may have the potential to affect our sport significantly, I would say that we need to accept this in order to do what we can to help minimise the spread.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: