Is 15 Feet The New 6 Feet When Running?

Exploring Intensity

Is 15 Feet The New 6 Feet When Running?

We have continued to do our one mile time trial runs at The Newton North track during the COVID-19 shutdown. Is it wise to run in a place where others are also running, even if we keep six feet away from all other people? According to a new study of the airflow behind runners and walkers people should stay 15 feet behind walkers and 30 feet behind runners who moving at about a seven-minute mile pace.

The NYT summarized the study nicely in this article. It’s not been peer reviewed, and the models do not account for wind. But we are going to think twice about track workouts.

The new conventional wisdom is to try to run alone. If you do come across another runner or walker, try to avoid running within 30 feet directly behind them. To pass you will want to select a course that takes you about six feet to the side so you can clearly see past the runner. A side wind would probably impact where the breath droplets move in the runner’s slipstream.

We want to continue to do time trials at the Newton North track, so we’re going to have to go at odd times when (hopefully) the track will be relatively empty of other people. Or maybe it’s best to skip time trials all together for a while. Dog walks are looking like a safer (though lower cardio) bet.

-Mark G.