How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the running community

As the weather continues to warm up, runners are likely more tempted to lace up and get outside. But for those who usually run in groups, this is a difficult time due to COVID-19.

Time for runners to break out of their comfort zones, race organizer says

If you miss running in groups, try going online and connecting with others through programs like Strava, a Sudbury runner suggests. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

As the weather continues to warm up, runners are likely more tempted to lace up and get outside. But for those who usually run in groups, this is a difficult time due to COVID-19.

Physical distancing means if you're out, you have to run alone or with someone you live with. It's something that Vince Perdue of Sudbury Rocks Running Club has had to get used to.

"By mid-March we realized there was something happening and we stopped running in groups," he said. 

"Most of the runners I see now are running alone. I don't see any big groups. I haven't seen a group of more than three since March."

'Big shift' on social media

Perdue says he runs once a week with another person.

"A lot of running is the social side of it ... I'm very happy with the private side of it, but a lot of people love that group environment," he said.

More and more of the running community is moving online.

"I have seen a big shift on social media, where people are posting lots of lone pictures, scenery, running with their dog," Perdue said.

"Go on social media and see what others are doing. I always am able to find something there and, if it excites me, I'm sure it would excite somebody else even more."

He suggest people check out online programs like Strava, a social-fitness network, which tracks cycling and running exercises.

People can post their own runs and can also see other people's runs.

"So then you get a dialogue back and forth like, 'Can I do that? Can I beat you? or, Where do you run?' And great stuff like that."

It's hoped races in real life will return

He mentioned there are also a lot of virtual runs.

"So if you wanted to train for something, like our [Sudbury Rocks'] Apex Warrior trail run this coming up in May ... you'll have a whole week to be able to get your profile posted over at Apex Warrior, and there will be a winner in that," Perdue said.

"So that's the kind of great stuff [that's online]."

Perdue noted the Sudbury Rocks marathon has been delayed until the fall (Oct. 25).

"We were lucky enough to be able to pull some strings and get a fall date so hopefully that goes all right. You should still be training for that."

Perdue acknowledged that runners are often creatures of habit, and some have been curtailed by the closure of parks and trails.

"I don't run now where I ran a month ago. But what I would tell people is to explore your neighborhood, or a neighborhood that you've probably never run in," he said.

"You'd be surprised how many streets that you've never seen in your own neighborhood."

Since the pandemic began, there are more people out on the streets than ever, he said.

"I don't mind moving 50 feet over to the other side of the road, to stay away from a walker or another runner. We're all waving, and we're all saying 'Hi!' I find that a great thing."

With files from Martha Dillman


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?