If you’re used to doing your speedwork on the track, chances are you’ll be missing running in circles by now. A lot of running tracks, like gyms and swimming pools, were closed as part of the COVID-19 lockdown, but as facilities re-open, England Athletics have published guidelines on how to stay safe when using the track.
Are running tracks open yet?
A lot of running tracks have now reopened, but the process for using the track might have changed. Some running tracks have been split into zones for social distancing; runners will be given a lane and a time slot when pre-booking their track session, to keep numbers down. If this is the case, you should remain in your designated lane for your entire session to ensure you keep a safe distance from other runners.
It’s a good idea to phone your local running track and ask about the booking process before turning up.
Can I train with my coach, or other runners on the track?
If you’re used to larger training sessions, you might be longing to get back on the track with your teammates, however this might be put on hold for a little while longer. Current exercise rules state you can run with up to five other people (or one coach and five athletes), as long as you all adhere to social distancing guidelines. However, most tracks have said runners can only train 1:1 with their coach on the track, staying 2m apart at all times.
Is it safe to return to the track just now?
According to the England Athletics guidelines, no changing rooms or social spaces should be open at your local track and the venue should have put guidelines in place to allow you to arrive at the track and run at a safe distance from other runners. (This distance should be more than a one lane gap).
The guidelines also advise that in order to keep yourself safe, you should take hand sanitiser with you and use this before and after training on the track. You should also leave the track as soon as you have finished your session.
You might find that your local track has banned jumps at the moment, if they do not have the resources to thoroughly clean equipment and landing pits between runners.
Is there anything else I should keep in mind?
Brian Labus, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada Las Vegas told Runner’s World that the first thing to consider before participating in any exercise right now is whether or not you are feeling well.
If you have any symptoms or you are self-isolating, you should not visit your local track and shouldn’t take part in any exercise whatsoever. 'If one has symptoms suggestive of COVID, they should not exercise for two reasons,' Green says. 'First, to obviously not spread the virus, but also to avoid myocarditis [inflammation of the heart]. A viral illness (several viruses, including coronavirus) can cause myocardial inflammation and damage the heart muscle. This is made worse by exercise.'
Running in a rural, open area is safer than running in a concentrated, urban environment. If your local track is following England Athletics guidelines, it shouldn’t ever be too busy and you should be able to run at a safe distance from others at all times.
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