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Social distance

March 22, 2020

If anything’s clear at the moment, it’s that we’re going to have to learn to live our day-to-day lives differently. Covid-19 is going to change how we think about things we’ve taken for granted for years.

After much internal wrangling about whether it was socially responsible, I went for a run today. There are mixed message online about whether you should stay at home under all circumstances, or the degree of risk involved in going outside.

As of today, 22 March 2020, the UK government’s guidance to physical exercise is as follows:

At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time such as:

* look for ideas of exercises you can do at home on the NHS website

* spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to the radio or watching TV programmes

* try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs

* keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden

You can also go for a walk or exercise outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others.

The guidelines are light on detail for those who go outside to exercise. I thought about this while I was out, and here are some more detailed (probably more runner-specific) guidelines that I followed:

  1. Stick to wide pavements wherever possible. Some of my preferred routes have narrow sections, which mean close passes whenever you meet someone.
  2. Move proactively. Signal your intent to give someone a wider berth early to avoid uncertainty. It feels weird, like you’re worried they’re going to lunge at you, but it avoids anyone thinking you’re putting them at risk.
  3. Time and distance don’t matter. If you’re practising social distancing effectively, your path is going to meander as you avoid people. Maybe just leave your watch at home and enjoy the fresh air.
  4. Pick at time of day that’s likely to be quiet. I went for lunchtime. Mornings or evenings may also be good, but this is mostly guesswork, and probably depends on route.
  5. Don’t take water or fuel, they’ll only lead to you touching your face.
  6. Don’t spit. This shouldn’t be a special guideline for this time of crisis, but especially now, just don’t. If you have a rattle in your chest, just go for a walk. No one needs coughing runners right now.
  7. Be respectful to others. Wave or nod or say ‘Hi’ if you want, but don’t necessarily expect a response. The runners I saw out today all looked like they wanted some headspace, myself included.

Like the government guidelines, I’m sure these will evolve over time. What’s missing? What needs adjusting?

Stay safe. I don’t want to end this with the awful pun ‘we’re in this for the long run’, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

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