Tips for Running in the Dark

7 Tips for Running in the Dark | happyfitmama.comIt’s that time of year again where it’s super dark in the morning and getting darker earlier and earlier in the evening.  Most likely you are running in the dark. I know a lot of people retreat indoors for their workouts once the daylight hours are shorter. Going for a run after the sun has gone down or before it comes up is sometimes the only time to squeeze in the miles. As much as I don’t like running in the dark, I’d rather not stay inside.

For years, I felt comfortable running in the dark by myself. But then five years ago I had a creeper incident that happened on one of my early morning runs. A man in a car followed me on my run, circling around parking lots to meet up with me or to cut me off at intersections. It didn’t take me long to realize something wasn’t right. I pulled out my phone, ready to snap a pic or to call for help and hightailed it to the police department which was nearby. This is all while the guy continued to follow me.

I never thought that I’d have a scary situation like that in my small town. I was running my “safe route” in town after all. The whole situation messed with my confidence. Since then, I’ve never felt the same. It took a long time before I would even think about running in the dark again. By myself or with someone.

Here’s some things that I’ve found useful as I got back into running in the dark:

Let someone know where you are going or use a tracking device.
Before you take off on your run, let someone know where you are going and what time you plan on returning. I try to leave a note for Ron telling him what route I’m planning to run and how long it should take me.

Funny story – Whenever I meet with new running friends for the first time, Ron likes to use Track My iPhone to make sure I don’t get  kidnapped by some crazy stalker.

Wear reflective, bright clothing.
This could be reflective stripping on your shirt, shorts, shoes, etc. I’m always amazed when I see people wearing all black. I love my dark workout gear but I save it for the daylight hours. Light up vests are a good idea but make sure that you also have reflective gear on your moving parts (arms, legs, feet, etc) so motorists know that you are a moving object.

Light up the night.
Lighted vests and/or headlamps will not only help you see the road better (even if there are streetlights) but drivers will be able to spot you better. I also find that a headlamp helps me see more objects in the road like potholes, sticks, acorns, etc. If you are running on a trail in the dark, you’ll need a super bright light to pick out the rocks and roots.

There’s a ton of different models available. I love my Petzl Actik Core headlamp (affiliate link). It’s lightweight, is super bright and rechargeable which makes it perfect for shorter runs.

Carry identification, cell phone and a personal alarm.
I always take my phone and RoadID with me. I also carry mace. I know some people don’t think mace is a good idea because it can be used against you. True, but I feel it gives me something to protect myself.

Listen up.
You won’t believe how many people I see running with earbuds in the dark. Even if you have one earpiece in, it’s still dangerous. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. I recently came upon a young girl running one morning who was wearing earbuds. She didn’t even look around as I came up behind her. In fact, her music was so loud, I could hear it. Girl, what are you thinking?!?! Your best bet is to leave the music at home.

Power in numbers.
If possible meet up with a friend. There’s safety in numbers. Plus, let’s be honest, running at zero dark thirty or after a long day at work, is way better with company. And if you think you run too early or too late, you might be surprised to know how many others are in the same boat as you. I’ve posted in a couple of our local running club Facebook pages looking for a running buddy and have had great success in finding crazy awesome runners who want to run at zero dark thirty.

Look ahead.
I noticed this the first time my kids wore headlamps – they looked straight down at their feet as they were walking. Instead, look ahead at where you are going and your feet will follow. This advice is for running in the dark on the trails but also on the street. I was running with a friend one early morning and she tripped over a huge rock that had fallen off a stonewall.

Most importantly, be safe, try to have fun with it and start counting down the days until the days are longer.

Do you run in the dark?

What are your running in the dark tips?

Linking up with Coaches Corner.

Last Week’s Workouts

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.comLast week’s workouts were so fun!

Getting back into lifting heavy at the gym and exploring new trails were the highlights. And I made it back to the yoga studio.  I think it’s been over a month.  Which is WAY too long.

Monday

30 minutes Elliptical Intervals

Strength Training:

DB bench press

Incline DB bench press

DB pull overs

Lat pulldown

SA cable row w/ balance

Leg circuit:

Split squats in btw each exercise (20,15,10,5 reps w/ increasing weight)

Lateral lunge w/ SL balance

Bench step ups/Lateral bench step ups

KB Goblet squat

Reverse lunge to SL balance

Core work: Stability ball roll ups/roll outs, knee balance, bridge roll out/in

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.comIt felt great to up the weight for each exercise and to lift heavy again. My muscles were feeling the fatigue later in the day and by Tuesday morning, things were s-o-r-e. I’d say one of my off-season goals is off to a good start!

Tuesday

8.79 mile trail run, 12:04 avg/pace

A new trail system opened up unofficially this week and all of my trail running friends were buzzing with excitement. Thankfully, my friend Anya asked if I wanted to join her for some miles. I’m so glad she did because there’s no way I would have explored that much on my own. There was some signage up but we had to do some of our own navigation to figure out where we were. I pulled out the Gaia GPS app a few times just to get an idea of what direction we were going.

 

The trails are so nice. They aren’t technical and there’s not a lot of vert but it’s nice cruising trails. I’m so excited to explore more.

This was the longest run post VT50 for both of us (Anya ran the 50 miler!). We didn’t plan on running that much but it was so nice out that we couldn’t help it. The good news is that it felt great!

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.comWednesday

30 minutes Arc Trainer hills

Strength training:

Bench press to shoulder press circuit

Leg circuit similar to Monday’s workout except instead of split squats between each exercise, I did squats.

Core work: Bridge marches, plank matrix

I contemplated hitting the Stepmill but thought I’d give it one more week before it’s time to start faux hill climbing again. Instead, the hills on the Arc Trainer were good enough.

Thursday

Morning Flow Yoga @ Bending Bodhi Yoga

Confession: I haven’t attended yoga class in over a month. WHAT?!?!  Our power went out Thursday morning from the Nor’easter. I had plans of sitting myself in front of my computer and busting out a ton of deadlines. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Instead, I hit the yoga studio. Man, did my body miss that!  Note to self: Don’t skimp on yoga again.

6.1 mile run, 8:48 avg/pace

Kyle and I have been running together for over 2 years at least once a week. Usually it’s an early morning run. How come it took us that long to realize we could actually run in the afternoon on some days? *Insert forehead/palm slap*

It’s a good thing we ran later in the day because there were so many branches and leaves down from the storm Wednesday night that one of us surely would have hurt ourselves. And when I say one of us, I mean me. Because I’m a klutz.

Friday

Rest day!

Saturday

4.37 mile run, 8:47 avg/pace

I had a short span of time to get a run in. And I did just that. I’m not sure who needed that run more – me or Max. We both needed to expend some energy.

Later in the day I did THIS mini band workout.

Sunday

6.2 mile trail run, 11:23 avg/pace

Kyle and I met up for an early morning trail run. We almost missed the amazing sunrise since it was at our backs while heading into the woods. Kyle glanced behind us and noticed the spectacular view (see first pic).

Not a bad way to kick off a Sunday.

How was your week in workouts?

Linking up with the Weekly Run Down.

Why Runners Should Have an Off-Season

Why runners should have an off-season | happyfitmama.comI mentioned in my weekly workout rundown that I am in the off-season now. What exactly does that mean. Am I taking time off from running until I find my next race? Am I sitting on the couch binge watching every show on Bravo?

Not at all.

The off-season can have different meanings. For me, it means that I’m reducing my mileage and running whatever I want without any pace or distance goals and no race specific workouts. I’m still running. I’m still going to the gym to cross train and strength train.

One of the big things I’m working on (or continuing to work on) is my ankle strength. Since spraining my ankle at Loon Mountain Race in July, my ankle hasn’t felt as strong as it did prior. There was a patch of time where I was rolling it every single weekend. Thankfully, it wasn’t anything major but all that added up. Going into VT50k, one of my main worries was the strength of my ankle. I didn’t want to sprain it at any point in the race. I’m using the off-season to let my ankle recover and build some more strength.

A typical off-season can last from 4-8 weeks.  Sometimes it can last longer. It’s a time of reset, renewal and planning for the next adventure.  So if your off-season has already started or if it’s coming up quick, here’s 4 things you can do to make it restful and fun.

Do things that you enjoy

Yeah, yeah, I know.  You enjoy running. Duh. The off-season is a time to do workouts that you pushed aside because you were running so much or you didn’t want to get injured. Maybe it’s a boxing class, hiking, mountain biking, or salsa dancing. If you enjoy it, do it more!

Kick up the cross training

Cut out a day or two of running and add it some cross training. Hit the pool for a no impact workout that will leave you feeling like you ran 20 miles. Or take a spin class to get those legs cooking. Cross training will enhance your running yet without beating up your body.

Maybe I need to get a wet suit for more SUP time?

Forget about your GPS watch

Notice I said forget about it. I didn’t say leave it at home. That’s just crazy talk. At least for me. In the off-season, don’t worry about pace and distance. Let your body dictate all of that. I am still wearing my GPS watch because I like to see the numbers AFTER my run is done. For instance, yesterday when I finished my trail run, I noticed that I stopped at 8.79 miles. Usually, that would drive me bonkers. I’d run another .21 miles to make it an even 9. Not off-season me. I hit save on my watch and was done.

Go for the gains

I know it’s cliche but seriously, hit the weights. The off-season is a great time to build strength before you increase your running distance and intensity again. You won’t skimp on the weights with the excuse that “I don’t want to be sore for my run workout tomorrow”. Why?  Because it’s the off-season and you won’t have a running workout.

Oh, hey there, pull ups. I kind of have forgotten about you.

Plan for your next goal

The off-season is a great time to re-evaluate your season. What could have you done differently? What did you do right? With that in mind, start thinking about where you’d like to go from there. Do you have a distance or time based goal?  Is your goal to run happy and injury free? Start mapping out a a plan or consult with a coach to give you that next goal to chase for an extra dose of motivation for the new season ahead.

What are you doing in your off-season?

Linking up with Coaches Corner.