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Press Releases

Running raises the heart rate, lifts spirits and provides an outlet during pandemic

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SEATTLE – Dust off the shoes, put on the hydration vest, charge up the smart device and go. Whether someone is just getting back into running or has been a road warrior for years, the REI Co-op team is here to support every step of the way. REI’s physical stores may be closed, but the co-op’s product experts are working remotely to support both new and experienced runners with all the best gear and advice.

“Now is a great time to get outside, as long as we recreate responsibly,” says Marshall Merriam, REI general merchandising manager. “Over the past few weeks we have seen a significant lift in online searches for running, and interest in running-related products. We have the best running gear in stock, and a library of helpful resources available to support our customers meet their running goals.”

During this unprecedented time, finding a rhythm and exercise is important to help get the body moving and re-center the mind. A recently published Co-op Journal story explores how exercise has been proven to be as effective as medication for some people struggling with low-level depression, and explores how just 30 minutes of running can improve “executive function” in the brain.

Just like the rest of the world, the coronavirus pandemic has challenged the co-op community to find new ways to conquer staying at home and balancing work, parenting, helping with schoolwork, and meeting fitness or training goals, all while following social distancing guidelines.

REI’s virtual Strava run club

To help its running community stay connected through social distancing, the co-op activated a national REI Run Club on Strava, a social-fitness network that helps motivate people, and track exercise. People can log miles and enjoy some friendly virtual competition with other runners from around the country. Even for those who have smaller spaces or aren’t able to head out to their favorite trails right now, the co-op challenged the community by tagging #REIchallenge and #tiniestmile as they make a mile by running laps around the apartment, in a parking lot, or by chasing the kids around the house.

REI employees are still out there running and invite members to join them (virtually)!

Many REI employees find balance during this stressful time through running, and are sharing new online videos featuring their stories about why they run and how they started, and tips to help new runners get started. The co-op’s running site also serves as an easy hub for people to find educational insight and gear recommendations for road and trail running. With REI’s stores closed, the co-op’s experts are also online helping to answer questions through REI Conversations.

REI Expert Advice online videos

For those switching from pavement running to trail running, or who are new to running completely, REI’s Expert Advice and Co-op Journal articles offer a variety of information from form and technique to an array of guides, educational articles, checklists and videos to help.

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 18 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 162 stores in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at, REI Outlet or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs more than 300 custom-designed itineraries worldwide. The REI Outdoor School is run by professionally trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner-to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.