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10 tips for running in the dark

By Henry Howard

The days are getting noticeably shorter and darker, especially for runners, regardless of whether they get out for a run first thing in the morning or in the evening.

As a morning runner, I frequently get my miles in before the sun comes up. During my runs in the summer, the sunrise would regularly greet me as I finished. But no more. It’s zero dark thirty constantly.

The onset of shorter days should not limit one’s ability to run. However, the darkness does mean that runners should take extra precautions for their own safety.

Here are 10 tips to ensure you are being safe on the run during these darker days.

1. Wear reflective clothing: When running on roads or sidewalks, it is important to be seen by others, especially motorists. A lot of running gear has reflective stripes or other designs that not only look cool, but help identify you to others in the dark. I also have a thin reflective vest that I wear from time to time that works well.

2. Use a waistlamp, headlamp or flashlight: I am a recent convert to the UltrAspire Lumen 800 Multisport Waist Light. It is incredible how much better the light from the waist illuminates the path ahead of you rather than a light on your head. A well-lit trail or road will help keep you safe from falling over a root, banging your head on a low-hanging branch or tripping over something on a sidewalk.

3. Run in well-lit areas: If you don’t have access to carrying your own light source, I’d recommend running in areas with adequate street lights. While this may mean there is more traffic around you, it should also mean that there is better lighting and access to sidewalks.

4. Prioritize areas you know well: This doesn’t mean to run the same route repeatedly. However, running in area that you are familiar is generally safer. There will likely be less obstacles that can trip you up and you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the dark.

5. Run against traffic: You should be doing this 100 percent of the time anyway. But it is even more critical when lighting is limited and it’s harder for drivers to see you.

6. Find a friend: Unfortunately, there are predators who target women who are alone. There are countless stories each year of women being attacked while running. Darkness increases the risk. Run with a partner, friend or join a running group to increase safety.

7. Listen carefully: I always run with headphones, whether I’m listening to a podcast or music. But I have found that open-ear headphones, via Aftershokz, are the safest option. The technology allows me to hear my favorite podcasts or music groups, while also allowing me to hear outside sounds like cars, other people and animals.

8. Tell people where you’re going: This is always a good practice in case you get lost or some other emergency occurs. It is even more important for someone to know where you are going and when to expect your return. This is very important for trail runners but recommended for every runner. And, by all means, if you get lost and someone calls you, answer your phone.

9. Bring your phone: And, yes, you should have your phone. If you need to unplug and enjoy the outdoors, that’s cool. But your phone is your connection to help, should you need it.

10. Consider the treadmill: If you aren’t able to run safely outside in the dark, there is always the treadmill. While some runners don’t enjoy cranking out the miles on the treadmill, it is a viable option when it is not safe outside.


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