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Should You Wear a Mask While Running?

I am a part of many running groups and there is one question that consistently touches a nerve within the groups. “Should you wear a mask while running?” Most health experts agree that it depends on where you run. Dr. Caitlin Lewis, a sports medicine specialist answered that query in an interview with The Cleveland Clinic, “the answer to that question is that it depends where you’re at… If you’re not around people, there’s no one around to protect by wearing a mask, so it’s not really needed”

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Masks help prevent respiratory droplets from being inhaled. I’ve run behind and passed many runners as they coughed, talked, huffed and puffed, sneezed, and spit. If you’re a runner, you’ve seen many gross moments. It’s part of running. Masks are not 100% effective, but they are proven to be helpful.

So my question is, why wouldn’t you wear a mask if you run in close proximity to others?

Here’s why I wear a mask when I run.

I had Covid and it was horrible. My youngest daughter also had Covid and had no symptoms at all. If I had Covid while I ran and did not wear a mask, it is possible my droplets could have infected others. Since Covid has invaded our lives in 2020, I’ve regularly worn a mask when out in public.

If we are going to get back to life this year, we must take on the responsibility of protecting one another. Chances are since I have had Covid, I won’t be contagious. However, there are not enough studies to confirm that. Because the virus is still new, we don’t know if people with the antibodies or people who have received the vaccine are incapable of spreading Covid. There’s so much that we don’t know. But we know wearing a mask can help limit the potential of passing along Covid.

Like everyone else in the world, I’m sick of the way things are. But if wearing a mask could help the smallest of a percentage to stop the spread of Covid, why wouldn’t everyone be on board? If wearing a mask could stop me from spreading the virus to someone that could die, then I’ll do it. If wearing a mask could help my kids get back into school full time and help those high school athletes play the sports they love, then I’ll do it. If wearing a mask can help businesses reopen, then I’ll do it. Not wearing a mask when around others is selfish. It’s beyond the point to care about our neighbors and we should have been doing it all along.

Wearing a mask while running is uncomfortable and might even slow us down, but it could cause others to halt. One thing I love about running communities is how supportive we are of one another. The best way for all of us to support one another and move society along is to wear a mask at all times when we are near others, regardless of how quickly we pass them.

Here are helpful articles on why you should run with a mask on.

Cleveland Clinic
Mayo Clinic 
Runners World


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