Is running outside safe without a mask? What to know as COVID second wave hits – Poughkeepsie Journal

Is running outside safe without a mask? What to know as COVID second wave hits  Poughkeepsie Journal

As the coronavirus pandemic resurgence slams us with a vengeance, I thought it might be a good time to check in with my Junk Yard Dogs running friend David Walker, who is a medical doctor practicing family medicine in Dutchess County.

DocDog, as he is known in the group, is a great source of common-sense advice — not to mention a very experienced marathon runner and pace group leader in major marathons. He knows running, he knows medicine, and that’s a great combination for us all right now.

As community spread of this dastardly virus increases at a scary rate, Dr. Walker’s quite busy now. I fired off a few questions via email last week and he replied with some short, rapid-fire answers that are greatly appreciated.

COVID-19 precautions: Run off the beaten path with cases spiking

Turkey Trots: Mid-Hudson race goes virtual, Rhinebeck event goes on

Highland man discovers trail running during chaotic 2020, excels at Pawling 24-hour event

Most of the questions posed to DocDog were not new, but rather acted as a refresher course for a pandemic-weary running populace that craves a return to normalcy. The bad news? That’s not happening anytime soon. The good news? Running outside is generally safe, low-risk and even recommended.


Walker reminded me that these answers are his opinions and are not a substitute for medical advice, which you should seek from your own practitioners — or from your best judgment and research. Thanks to DocDog for taking the time to remind us of the following tips and thoughts: 

  • On protocols for running outside: “I don’t run with a mask or gaiter. Outdoors is low risk of transmission. I just don’t go too close to people. Don’t spit, try to sneeze away from people. And keep your distance, of course.’’
  • On best preventative measures: “Exercise, eat healthy (fruits, vegetables), don’t stress, eight hours of sleep a night, listen to your body. If you can’t exercise, don’t.”
  • On the benefits of running: “Exercise outdoors can lower stress levels.”
  • On the future, running and otherwise: “Races can work with distance, masks and contact tracing. Most people will probably have access to a vaccine in the second quarter of next year. We’ll be back to normal probably by 2022.”

Again, these are Dr. Walker’s well-researched thoughts, which can hopefully provide guidance for all of us. Stay safe out there. For a distance, from a distance.

Running in the dark

The recent “looking for recommendations’’ post on the Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club’s Facebook page provides a great lead-in to a topic that we revisit every year around this time: Safety while running in the waning hours of daylight. Here was the question:

“Anybody do any running at night in the Southern Dutchess County area (Wappinger, Fishkill, Beacon)? Wondering if there are any good spots and I’m often itching to run after work, but thanks to daylight savings it’s dark at 5 p.m.!”

This question could have been posed by anyone, anywhere in the mid-Hudson Valley — in November, December, January, February; these are dark days indeed. The answers shed some light (pun intended) on best places and best practices for daylight-starved winter running. Some of the replies centered on well-lit neighborhoods and sidewalks. Here are some of the suggestions:

  • Roads and sidewalks in the Village of Wappingers Falls, which are generally well-lit.
  • Sidewalks in Beacon, from Bank Square Coffee out and back on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge for 4-5 miles total, featuring sidewalks all the way to the bridge. Beacon Endurance (a local training group) does this route at a “social pace” Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and all are welcome to join.
  • The Raymond Avenue/Vassar College area in the Town of Poughkeepsie. Technically not “southern Dutchess,” but what the heck.
  • Perhaps the most interesting suggestion? The vast asphalt jungle of parking lots in Fishkill, from Walmart to Sam’s Club and around the many doctors’ office complexes on the west side of Route 9, just north of the I-84 interchange. “You can get some serious mileage in,’’ the commenter added.   

Even with all of these great suggestions, on many occasions we will find ourselves plunged into early-morning or early-evening darkness, away from the well-lit roads, sidewalks and parking lots. Runners should invest in a good headlamp (ones with rechargeable batteries are the most convenient), reflective lights (my friend Eric Gross is a big fan of these) and reflective gear. Be safe, be seen.

Turkey Trot updates

The holidays will look a lot different this year. You’ve heard that phrase many times already, haven’t you! Same here in the running world, where Turkey Trot races usually rule the roost on Thanksgiving morning.

The Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club’s annual Turkey Trot has gone virtual, with multiple awesome race distance options available. To register, go to runsignup.com/Race/NY/Poughkeepsie/MHRRCs2020VirtualTurkeyTrot.

Up in Rhinebeck, the Ferncliff Forest 5km Turkey Trot is filling up fast. The race is happening in person with wave starts between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. in 10-minute increments. As of this writing, there are about 80 spots remaining in the 350-person race limit, with the following time slots still open for registrants: 8:20, 8:40, 8:50.

For more information, go to runsignup.com/Race/NY/Rhinebeck/FerncliffForest5kTurkeyTrot.

Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club member Pete Colaizzo, the track coach at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, writes on running every week in Players. He can be reached at runhed246@hotmail.com. For more club information, go to www.mhrrc.org