If you’re a serious runner, you run in the dark for some or all of your runs during most of the late fall, all through winter, and through the early part of the spring. This is especially true if you have to run before you leave for work – if you’re a morning runner – or late at night after work if you prefer running as a way to unwind.
What makes running in the dark exponentially more dangerous is a lack of preparedness. You can safely run in the dark if you take some easy-to-accomplish steps to be seen while you’re out running in the dark.
Once October hits, you’re probably running most of your morning runs in the dark. And then once November hits, both your morning and post-work runs are in the dark. Unless you’re a treadmill runner or you have a very flexible schedule, you’re probably running some if not most of your runs in the dark. Running in the dark isn’t bad if you have the right gear and you’re willing to put in a bit of planning. Sure, the cold weather doesn’t help, but you can totally make it work for you!
I made a short list of the tips and tricks that I would use to make the switch from summer running to running in the dark. Those cold morning miles won’t run themselves, so make sure you are getting in your runs with just a little bit of preparation and thinking and you’ll be a-okay.
Mapmyrun posted an article called 5 Safety Tips for Running in the Dark. Read it, not only because I was mentioned in it, but because it has very useful tips!
Dark Morning Run Tips
- Use music carefully – Make sure the volume is low enough that you can hear traffic or someone coming up behind you. My personal philosophy is that I don’t want to be without my eyes and my ears – so if I’m running when it’s dark out, there’s no music in my ears.
- You definitely want to run on the left side of the road (running towards oncoming traffic) so that you can see cars coming your way and they can see you.
- Get a buddy – There’s no better way to get out in the morning than with the accountability of someone else. Plus, misery loves company, especially when it’s quiet and dark out. Not to mention, you are more likely to be seen when there is more than one runner bobbing up and down on the side of the road. Plus, if someone does try anything, you have someone there to assist you.
- Early to bed, early to rise – The more consistent you are with your sleep, the more likely you are to not snooze through your alarm. Moreover, the earlier you get your zzz’s the easier it is to wake up.
- Gear – For starters, it’s always louder getting clothes out of the drawer at 5 am, I don’t know why! But if you have your clothes out the night before, you can be even quicker getting out the door. I lay my running clothes by the bathroom so I can quickly get in them when there’s some light from the bathroom. For me, I have no other option other than to step right over my running gear.
- Clothing – You cannot wear dark-colored clothing when you’re running in the dark. It is simply not safe to be hidden by the darkness. You need to be in a light-colored shirt plus have some kind of light on you as well.
- Plan ahead – Having a plan will absolutely make things in the morning that much easier for you. Setting your alarm, having clothes out, a course mapped, a workout planned… They all help keep you accountable and get you out the door. When you have a plan, you’re likely to stick to it.
- Tell someone where you’re going how long you’ll be out and when you expect to be back. This way, if something does happen to you while you’re out running, someone will know which general direction you went and when you were supposed to be back.
- Gear up – Wear reflective gear, light-colored clothing, as well as headlamps and blinking lights. If you are seen on the roads, you obviously have a better chance of not being hit by an oncoming car.
- Be seen – Run in areas where other people are also out. Find well-lit roads and bring a phone in case of emergencies. If you feel you aren’t comfortable in a part of town or a stretch of road, do everything you can to remove yourself from that situation.
Dark Night Run Tips
Running at night, in my opinion, is a bit more hectic and crazy because so many more cars are on the road. In the morning, at least most people are still asleep. At night, on the other hand, people are coming home from work and are usually a bit more in a rush to get home.
Here are some tips to make sure your night runs are safe.
- Wear bright colors. Nothing says unsafe like wearing dark colors. Be smart and wear colors that are reflective.
- Bring lights. Whether it’s a flashlight or something you’re wearing, it really pays to wear some lights.
- Tell someone where you’re going. Someone should know when to expect you back.
- Run in public places that are well-lit.
Post-work night runs are really good at helping unwind and come back down after a stressful day. Keep the stress level low for everyone by wearing clothing that can be seen in the dark and letting at least one person know where you’re roughly going to be running.
I hope some of these little tricks help you get out the door when you’d rather be catching another few minutes of sleep. After work, when you don’t have to run or work out, you’ll be happy you got it out of the way!
Happy running and be sure to be visible during the darker hours.
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