The News-Press, March 26, 2020
by Ken Gooderham
Is this a good time to go for a walk, run or ride? Actually, it’s probably one of the best times to do that.
Just don’t do it with a group, or at least a group of more than 10 people… CDC’s orders!
COVID-19 is nothing to take lightly, and the social distancing and closures of both places and activities are reasonable responses to a worsening situation. But the dual specters of viral contagion and financial collapse have ratcheted up the stress for almost everyone with enough sense to realize just how bad it could get.
So, when you need some stress relief, exercise is a great outlet (and it’s good for your immune system, too). But the parks and pools, beaches and gyms have also been shuttered.
So it’s a good time to go for a walk, a run or a ride.
If you’ve been out since the social distancing began, you probably have noticed more people walking, running and riding – even with the early departure of some winter residents. I’ve also noticed more families walking or riding together, which is both understandable and gratifying.
Why does taking to the streets, sidewalks and pike paths make more sense right now?
It’s safe, with appropriate actions of course. Keep numbers down and keep your distance, but keep up the conversation and camaraderie… it’s a good way to be social and socially distant at the same time.
It takes very little in equipment to be ready to go, probably things you already have – which is a plus in these economically uncertain times (and when shopping is discouraged).
It’s de-stressing, at a time when we need all the stress relief we can find. It’s a way to be more engaged with your neighbors and community, without engaging in potentially unhealthy behavior.
And it’s something you can do when everything else is closed, on your own schedule and with family – particularly family who’ve been cooped up together much more than they are used to being.
In fact, in these times of disrupted schedules, it’s a good time to establish a few new habits… like going for a walk, run or ride during the time you used to drive to work or drive the kids to school. Given the way things are shaping up, start today and you’ll have enough time to build a new habit – a little silver lining in a world full of clouds.
From viral to virtual
If you’re a fan of organized events, this is not a happy time for you. Thanks to COVID-19, the local running and riding calendar has been wiped clean for the next few weeks (at least), as race organizers abide by the government requests to eliminate group activity.
If you already signed up for a cancelled race, check with the organizers on your options to defer, donate or refund your fees. Since a lot of these events may be fund-raisers for local charities, if you can afford to donate please do – because the fund-raising prospects for local nonprofits is otherwise pretty bleak right now.
And if you really need a race to motivate you, maybe it’s time to go virtual.
What’s that? You do the distance and get the bling… but no crowds, no parking problems and no lines at the Porta-Potties (and no Porta-Potties!).
It’s easy: Google your way to a virtual race that looks interesting, sign up for the distance you want, pay your entry fee, run (or walk) your race and submit your results.
You can still race to benefit charities and to earn some fancy medals. But mostly it’s a way for runners who need a goal to put a virtual finish line out there to get them moving.
It may not be for everyone, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Ready to ride or run?
Sorry, you’re on your own at least through mid-April. Every local race or ride organizer has put events on hold pending the next phase of the coronavirus calamity. Check back with the various websites (or this space in two weeks) to see if anything changes.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at email@example.com, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.
# # #
Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.