Two weekends ago we had to turn the clocks back an hour. Each year, the night when we turn the clocks back, I rejoice like most people because we get that extra hour of sleep. However once Sunday afternoon rolls around, I realize that this sucks. It gets dark fast! That leaves people who want to run one of two equally unpopular options. Either switch your runs to early morning, which for several people is difficult, or go running in the dark.
Running in the dark can be serene but of course it can obviously be dangerous. However it can come off successfully if certain things are followed. Here are some of the things that I follow because as I noted above, until spring rolls around, I will likely be doing alot of runs in the dark.
- Invest in some articles of clothing that have reflector strips. These do work and cars will notice you when their headlamps shine on you. Don’t just have one strip on your body, get them on your sneakers, your top, maybe even on your head. I prefer reflector strips over lights and lamps because those will eventually die out!
- I love to listen to music when I run just as you do, but when running at night, I have the volume all the way down. Take that precaution times two if you have sound drowning ear buds. You have to be able to hear some of what is going on around you in the dark.
- Try and find areas that are lit up more than others. I like to run in my neighborhood but its very dark to the point that I cant see the sidewalks and some them are uneven or have cracks. I found a stretch in my neighborhood however that is well lit because the street lamps are brighter. Its a drive from my house but I’ll drive out there, park and then run. The drive is worth it for me to see the ground.
- Make eye contact with a driver at any intersection you come to. You think he may see you in the intersection but theses days, you know everyone is on their phones or doing something else while behind the wheel. You may lose a few seconds on your run but stop and make the eye contact before crossing in front of a car!
- Find someone to run with. Trust me, there is one of your friends that is likely in the same predicament as you are. Run together and stay safe together!
- When training for longer distance races, try and schedule shorter runs at night while leaving the longer runs for when you will have time to run during the day. While the longer runs are important, your safety is too. Its okay to do the shorter runs in the dark.
- Always run against traffic. Yes I know that sometimes staring at headlights coming at you can be annoying, but its safer than cars coming at you from behind. Truth is these days drivers are distracted by so many things and while you would like to trust drivers driving behind you, you just can’t take that chance.
What are some of your night time running tips? I plan on keeping this list growing for all to reference! Don’t be afraid of running in the dark, just be smart and safe while doing it!