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Sara’s Diary: Day 13 without baseball

The Dos and Don’ts of social distancing

By all means go for a run - alone
Sara Sanchez

I don’t know if I’m cranky because it’s the 13th (read: unlucky) day of this new COVID-19 universe. Maybe I’m cranky because it’s supposed to be Opening Day Eve and instead I’m trying to get myself fired up to watch the classic games lineup MLB Network will show instead tomorrow. Either way, I’m not in the best mood, despite it being 50 degrees without a cloud in the sky in Chicago as I type this.

In a few hours I’ll try to take advantage of that weather during my afternoon jog, which brings me to the point of today’s post. As a person with a solid two weeks of social distancing under my belt I’ve noticed that some people are much better at this than others. On yesterday’s walk I finally reached my breaking point and started documenting some of the Dos and Don’ts of social distancing.

Do - Get some fresh air

The experts all agree that humans are healthier when they take the time to go outside and walk, run, or ride a bike. The key is making sure you are six feet apart:

You know, go for a run. Just do it alone, like the lede photo on this piece.

Don’t - Run or exercise in groups

As an introvert I almost always run alone unless I’m running a race with a few thousand people. I have a lot of friends who have running buddies, or groups, but it’s never really been my thing. I know those groups and social ties serve as a way to connect with others and help motivate people. The problem is your group makes it a lot harder for other people to socially distance from you. Even two people running side by side on the Lake Shore Trail takes up the entire runner’s lane:

Two people running side by side takes up the whole lane - notice the impending “traffic jam” on the trail
Sara Sanchez

While it may seem like “not that big of a deal” you can see how multiple pairs of people crowd the trail a lot more than single file groups, and quickly. Just exercise by yourself for now.

Do - Get the kids some time to play

I absolutely loved this scene on the unused baseball fields yesterday. There are pockets of people, all enjoying their space, all with more than enough distance from each other. A++ social distancing from these Chicagoans:

Groups of people playing with their children - far apart
Sara Sanchez

Don’t - Use the playground

So, full disclosure, I’ve been having these thoughts on almost every walk and run I’ve done in the last two weeks, but the moment I decided to turn this into a diary entry came from a friend on Facebook. I can’t actually post what he said here because it violates Al’s no-profanity rule, but I’ll paraphrase:

If all the parents on my street could stop letting their children play together in a huge group on the street it would make it a lot easier for me to explain to my daughter why she can’t go play with her friends. So if everyone could stop being breaking social distancing rules, I would appreciate it.

Look, I don’t have children, but I worked with them for years. I cannot even imagine how hard it is to be home with small children with no school, childcare or play dates in sight for the foreseeable future. But my friend is 100 percent right. Everyone violating the rules makes it harder for parents walking by to tell their children they can’t play or use the swings. Plus, the reason playgrounds are closed in Illinois has to do with how long the virus can live on metal. We all just have to be a little stronger for a little while to help everyone right now:

Cancel your playdates and stay away from playgrounds, people
Sara Sanchez

Do - Break the old rules a bit

During regular time norms like avoiding walking on the grass or not jay walking make sense, however these are not normal times. Check out these champions making sure they social distance, even if it means they had to violate a norm/rule from last month:

A man walks his dog on the grass to socially distance
Sara Sanchez
A woman jaywalks on a deserted Halsted St.
Sara Sanchez

This is how you socially distance, people!

Don’t - Follow the old rules to the detriment of others

There was one moment yesterday that absolutely horrified me on my walk. I was already a little annoyed at the family walking side by side, slowly with a stroller that took up more than the walker’s lane when I heard a group of young runners behind me. I stepped off the trail entirely to avoid what I knew was inevitable:

When running groups and families that take up the whole lane collide - yikes
Sara Sanchez

Look, I know being cooped up inside isn’t easy on any of us. There is a reason I’m fiercely protecting my daily walks and runs. However, individual choices matter here and impact all of us. If you need to walk with your significant other or children, be sure to walk single file when you pass others or find a more secluded street or area for your walk if that’s too burdensome. Throw the ball around away from others rather than breaking the rules and using the playground. And if you see someone by themselves going out of their way to keep six feet of distance don’t take that as an invitation to take up more of the sidewalk for your group.