Running through Coronavirus

I took unhurried, shuffling steps. What freedom. It had me humming the theme song from “Chariots of Fire” and feeling like Springsteen in ’75 while largely ignoring the searing pain building in my lungs with each breath. “At the very least it’s a healthier form of coping,” I thought as I raggedly struggled up a steep incline and tried to pin my attention to the view of Mount Aire.

All it took was a few weeks of COVID- related lockdown before the novelty of eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and day drinking without a hint of remorse had worn off. The allure of another half-baked streaming series had long since faded and reading the news did nothing but ll me with dread. It was amid these pensive doldrums that I rediscovered the simple pleasures of going for a run, and I wasn’t alone. A widespread side effect of coronavirus is a running renaissance in Utah. Are you ready to join?

Why Run?

In some minds running exists solely as a punishment for loafing during a high school sports practice or as an excruciating way to abate the consequences of less responsible decisions. But it needn’t be a crucible of self-improvement. It’s about getting outside, breathing fresh air and taking control of something, anything. Running is catharsis, and we could all use more of that right now.

Gearing Up

Part of the beauty of jogging is, unlike skiing and biking, it doesn’t require much gear. One item, however, can make or break your run right out of the gate: shoes. “We’re seeing a lot of new people running right now, and we can help make it safer and more comfortable,” says Eli White, Sales Manager and trail running coach with Salt Lake Running Company (SLRC). “We do video gait analysis to help match your biomechanics to the right shoe.” SLRC’s gait analysis sorts runners into the right shoe category, neutral, light stability or motion control, before refining the selection to match each runner’s foot shape, arch height and terrain choice.

“Every foot is different, so we want runners to try several options and nd what’s best for them. The right shoes go a long way towards preventing common injuries like plantar fasciitis and post tibial tendonitis,” White says.

Salt Lake Running Company: 2454 S 700 E, SLC, 801-484-9144,


Trail running might sound dif cult, but it can aid in injury prevention. “When you run on a trail every step is different. This helps keep from overloading the same tissue,” Voss says. Here

are a few easy to moderate trails that are perfect or those dipping their toes into off-road running.

MILLCREEK CANYON PIPELINE TRAIL—A moderate grade and wonderful views of surrounding mountains make Pipeline a runner’s dream.

PARK CITY HAPPY GILMOR—The consistently smooth trail starts at the North Round Valley trailhead and winds up through sagebrush and gambel oak.

great option for a quick after-work outing with mellow hills and an idyllic panorama of the city.

Start Slow

“Start more slowly than you think,” says Ryan Voss, Doctor of Physical Therapy with Mountain Top Physical Therapy in Park City. “It’s easy to add miles quickly at first. Modern shoes are great for performance, but they can hide feedback and allow us to do too much before we’re ready.”

Especially for those of us jumping right o the couch and into some miles, we significantly stress muscles, tendons and ligaments we’ve been neglecting. Pay attention to your body, and don’t start slamming anti-inflammatory drugs to mask the pain. “Running is very dynamic but also repetitive in how it stresses our tissues,” Voss says. “Common areas new runners will feel pain are the bottom of the foot and Achilles, the front and side of knees, and around the hips. As soon as you feel pain, take a few days off.”

Voss emphasized how injury is frequently tied to tightness in areas apart from where pain is felt, particularly originating in the hips. “Hip flexibility provides stability to our other joints and our back. Stretch those hip flexors, quads and hamstrings. Dynamic stretching before running and static stretching after you’re done. A little prep work goes a long way to prevent injury,” he says.

Mountain Top Physical Therapy: 1794 Olympic Pkwy, Park City, 435-575-0345,

Hitting Your Stride

Once you’ve made it through your initial miles, maintain a conservative long-term plan as you build up distance. Even if you suddenly dream of running an ultramarathon, you need to conscientiously work towards that goal without skipping steps.

“A good rule of thumb I use with runners I’m coaching is to not increase mileage by more than ten percent from one week to the next,” says White. “I recommend a three week build cycle with small increases in mileage followed by a lower volume week to allow your body to recover and make those adaptations to get stronger.”

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Tony Gill
Tony Gill
Tony Gill is the outdoor and Park City editor for Salt Lake Magazine and previously toiled as editor-in-chief of Telemark Skier Magazine. Most of his time ignoring emails is spent aboard an under-geared single-speed on the trails above his home.

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