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Do I have to wear a mask when I run?

Home Forums Get Advice, Give Advice Do I have to wear a mask when I run?

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  • #948013 Reply

    I live in a state that currently mandate masks be worn in any public spaces, indoors or out, when you cannot ensure at least six feet of physical distance.

    I’m a runner, and wearing a mask while running sucks – so I don’t.

    But! I have restricted my runs to my quiet residential neighborhood where I am unlikely to encounter into many, if any, other people. If I do encounter someone, I move to the other side or into the street to keep space between us. And I always carry a mask with me so if I do find myself somewhere crowded where I can’t keep a good amount of space from others, I can put it on until I get somewhere with less people.

    I’m also just generally pretty careful in the rest of my life – I’ve been working from home since March, I limit my grocery runs to no more than once a week, and while I do see some people in-person, I try to do it within the constraints of what’s low risk – always outside, in small groups, with distance, all that jazz. So, it’s possible of course I pick up the virus somewhere, I’m not interacting with lots of different people all the time.

    All this to say, the other day I was running, without a mask, and a pedestarian took offense and berated me accordingly. We were on the same side of the street, but we weren’t anywhere close to one another.

    My immediate reaction was to feel p*ssed and defensive, but after a few days, I’m wondering, am I actually in the wrong here?

    Within the confines of my state’s rules, what I’m doing is compliant, but if that’s the bare minimum, morally should I be doing more and just wear a mask the whole time I run?

    I think what I’m doing poses a pretty low risk to anyone else, if a risk at all, although I’m not an infectious disease expert. Even if it’s not medically necessary, should I be wearing a mask to help others feel at ease during a really stressful time?

    It’s a doable thing, I guess, but it does make running less pleasant…

    #948288 Reply

    I mean, technically no, you don’t need to, but someone always might see you and think “asshole.” If that bothers you, you could have the mask on but under your chin and quick pull it up when you’re approaching anybody, even though you won’t get within 6 ft. Even just a cotton bandanna around your neck that you pull up over your nose. Or try one of the masks made by athletic companies. If you don’t want to do that, make sure you run out into the street way before you get close to someone on the sidewalk. It’s a perception thing.

    #948536 Reply

    The other thing I would say, as far as the perception, it’s not exactly to put other people at ease, more to show that you respect and care about others. You know that you do, but they can’t know that if you don’t have a mask on.

    #948573 Reply

    I second the bandanna. Just pull it up when you’re about 15 feet away and then let it drop once you pass the person. It’s not as effective as other mask options but it’s more about optics of being a responsible and thoughtful citizen.

    #948598 Reply

    I think that there are two issues-the first is, are you individually putting else at risk and the collective value of having a strongly adhered to norm of mask wearing.

    So, are you likely to get anyone sick? Very unlikely. You probably don’t have COVID and from everything we know, incidental distanced contact outdoors is unlikely to get anyone sick. I also take you at your word that you are careful about distancing.

    The value though of having a strong collective norm about mask wearing is that it’s a simple binary decision that can avoid a lot of potential problems. It’s hard for many people to remain constantly careful about distancing. They may be distracted. They may see a friend and stop to chat. They may need to stop at a store and go in and the clerks and fellow customers will be left with having to confront them about it. Simply having a strongly adhered to norm of universsal mask wearing, can avoid all of those issues.

    The COVID transmission cycle is about five or six days, which is to say, every week or so a new cohort gets it and passes it along to the next. I’m assuming most of those people don’t intend to get other people sick so the goal is to create universal and easy to follow rules that keep it from happening as much because many people are not great at assessing what is actually dangerous in the moment.

    And as Kate, noted, there’s all the other people. They don’t know if you’re distancing carefully or if you’re being careful in other parts of your life. If everyone is wearing masks they can kind of walk around outside and not think of other people. If people are not universally wearing masks they have to be hypervigilant about staying away from other people. I see older people in my neighborhood kind of scanning the distance constantly for maskless pedestrians so they can walk around them.

    I think that it also depends on whether you’re in the suburbs or the city. In suburban areas it really is effortless to distance so the dynamic is a bit different. I didn’t wear my mask all the time when I was visiting my dad in the suburbs. I do all the time in philly.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t have confronted someone about it, but I do think generally if you’re in a city or pedestrian heavy area it’s better to be masked all the time.

    #948725 Reply

    I don’t think you need to wear one when you run as long as you are far from other people (which you are). I do the same with my walks – I carry a mask, and if I am getting close to someone I need to pass, I put my mask on and then take it off once we pass. Yes there may be the rare person who considers themselves the Mask Police and gives you attitude, but as long as you are complying with both the letter and spirit of the law, I see no reason why you should run with a mask when you are far from others.

    #948789 Reply

    My take on carrying a mask – and again, I agree that you’re complying with the law and doing nothing wrong – is that, you know, it takes a while to get it out and put it on, so it’s really just for if you find you need to go in a store or something. It’s not really to quickly put on if you come in proximity to someone. For that, it needs to be under your chin / around your neck.

    Again, this is if you care about the optics and want to avoid occasional side-eye or lectures.

    #948793 Reply

    I’m in Chicago, I don’t wear a mask running, but have one on me once I get to more populated streets to put on. Of the running community, I would say a small minority are emphatic mask wearers (or gaiters), and the rest perform a very zig-zaggy run path in order to avoid people (even on the lakefront). I am usually out first thing in the morning when fewer people are likely to be out too.

    #948808 Reply

    I think you’re fine. I do what others have suggested when I run — I keep a mask or bandana on me and pull it up if I’m passing people. I’ve also been mostly running in the streets or our bike/running trail to give pedestrians more space. I also try to avoid heavily trafficked streets and and peak times.

    Nobody has berated me for how I’m running, but I’ve seen some pretty snide comments about runners on social media and apps like NextDoor.I’m not sure what other cities are like, but I feel like mask-free exercise isn’t as big of an issue as, say, the 20-somethings that I see at bars.

    #948868 Reply

    I think you are doing a great job staying away from others while exercising outdoors.
    In Miami they don’t require masks during heavy exercise (running), but if you stop you need to put one on. There are police ticketing people everywhere for no mask or masks worn incorrectly. I would assume most cities/states would have a similar policy.
    I’ve stayed away from the gym because masks aren’t required when on machines and it seems like a high potential for exposure. More people are exercising outside and need to be able to breathe, especially in the heat of summer.

    #949135 Reply

    Thanks all!

    This generally makes me feel better. I am definitely trying to do my part to stop the spread and just generally be considerate of others, but there’s always some obstinate part of me that hates doing things *just* for the optics. Why should I have to engage in a performative act *just* for appearances?

    In normal times I’m a very live and let live sort of person/stay out of others business/trust that you don’t always know a situation from a glance so assume best intentions.

    That said, these aren’t normal times so it wouldn’t kill me to have a gaiter around my neck when I run, even if it is primarily for show.

    #949182 Reply

    I’m a runner too and I have asthma. There are special athletic masks that you can buy so that it is comfortable. I figure that even if the chances of transmission are low when I am running outside, there is also the fact that I am modeling and normalizing mask use for people who see me–they more people there are who wear masks the more likely it is that other people will do it as well.

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