10 Safety Tips for Running in the Dark

Stay safe while running in the dark with this guide on what to wear and how to be prepared.  happyfitmama.com

It’s that time of year again where it’s super dark in the morning and getting darker earlier and earlier in the evening. Hello sunset at 4:18 p.m.! I know a lot of people retreat indoors for their workouts once the daylight hours are shorter.

For years, I felt comfortable running in the dark by myself. But then last year 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. In fact, I’ve only done a handful of solo runs in the dark since then.

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. In the summer it’s the perfect time to beat the heat. Or if you’re a working parent or professional whose only free time for exercise is in the wee hours of the morning or after work. With November being National Running Safety Month, it’s the perfect time to brush up on your safety.


Use these tips to be the safest runner you can be when running in the dark.

Let someone know where you are going
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.

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 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. There’s a ton of different models available. I love my Black Diamond headlamp. It’s lightweight, is super bright and has a blinking red light on the back.

Carry identification, cell phone and a personal alarm
I always take my phone and RoadID with me. I also started carrying a Sabre Personal Alarm that I received at Rise.Run.Retreat. 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. At least that’s what he tells me. Maybe he’s just checking up on me to see if I’m really running. What else would I be doing at zero dark thirty?

Listen up
You won’t believe how many people I see running with headphones 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 headphones. 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.

Everything you need to stay safe while running in the dark.   happyfitmama.com

Power in numbers
If possible meet up with a friend. There’s safety in numbers. And if you think you run too early, 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.

Switch up your route
Change your running route and time you run every so often. It’s comfortable to you, but that also means that someone may learn your routine as well.

Look both ways before you cross the street
Don’t assume cars see you. Crosswalks, especially those regulated by stop signs are the worst for runners. Drivers will pull out in front of the stop sign looking for cars, but often look right beyond runners. Always make eye contact with the driver before you step off the curb.

Run in populated areas
Stick with well lit areas. If there are other runners around there is good chance the area is safe and appropriate for runners.

Run like a defensive driver
Assume every driver is talking on the phone while drinking steaming hot coffee and tuning the radio. This can be said about running at any time on the roads.

Have you ever been in a scary situation while running in the dark?

What are your safety tips?

24 comments on “10 Safety Tips for Running in the Dark

  1. SO many yeses to the listen up.
    I fall prey to this when I wog 🙂 or walk the dog in the dark as for some reason the calm of the dark makes me falsely think I dont need to pay attention to anything else but whats in my head….
    CARLA recently posted..Im terrified of GLUTEN.My Profile

  2. I love this. I have always been a big fan of no music because I always run alone. Between my breathing and my footsteps, it can definitely be hard to hear someone sneak up behind you. Also, I agree with trying new routes and letting someone know where you are going. I always text my husband before I hit the pavement and right when I’m done – I’m paranoid.
    Jenn – a traveling Wfe recently posted..How To Stay Motivated During Fall And WinterMy Profile

  3. Can I just tell you how much I love my SABRE personal alarm? I carry that thing with me everywhere!! I also have yet to try out my Night Runner 270 shoe lights. It was a kickstarter campaign I backed because I love the idea of putting light weight lights on my shoes instead of my head. Luckily for me, I can do most of my running in the daytime but I have all the gear if I need it 🙂
    Great tips here and I think you covered all the bases to staying safe!
    Allie recently posted..What Type of Runner Are You?My Profile

  4. I have to admit that I don’t love running in the dark – except for that night leg at Reach the Beach! While luckily I haven’t had a creeper incident, it does creep me out. But I love these tips. It does amaze me how many people wear black to run in the dark. And definitely assume that no driver sees you! I mean, even in broad daylight here in NYC!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Best Gifts for RunnersMy Profile

  5. I have not had an encounter like that before! I believe I am a defensive runner and if someone is running the same, random route that I am for too long, I sometimes will either change my route or stop and “stretch”. My handy dandy mace in hand…
    Lindsey recently posted..Running PlaylistsMy Profile

  6. Lots of great points! I am going to invest in a headlamp this year, my vision isn’t so great at night now and I went down a couple of times on ice last year, so I want to be able to see them a little better!

    I used to run really late at night (like around midnight) so I have encountered some strange folks. Fortunately I ignored them and kept running and that was it. The situation you had sounds scary! I’m glad it turned out OK for you.
    Mike recently posted..Hitting The Reset Button…AgainMy Profile

  7. Awesome tips – I would just add one: Listen to your gut. If something feels weird, it probably is. I remember when you had that creepy encounter(s) while running and that was so scary. I think sometimes we tend to downplay that weird fight-or-flight instinct we get. Also, I just had a reader comment on another post of mine that she needs tips for running in the dark, so I’m going to send her to this post! 🙂
    Carly @ Fine Fit Day recently posted..Trainer Tips: How Many Sets and How Many Reps?My Profile

  8. I’ve probably told you this, but I get scared for other women when they run in the dark. I was attacked once when I was running alone very early in the morning. Even though it was over 20 years ago, it still has an effect on me. I was able to escape from the man who threw me to the ground, but I still feel haunted by the memory and I worry for others who run in the dark. Yes, your advice is good, but please be careful.
    Debbie recently posted..8 Reasons I Want to Read Your BlogMy Profile

  9. Honestly I get really freaked about running in the dark! The only time I do is early morning if the sun will be rising very shortly… and that’s about it. I love these tips! My husband bought me a glow-in-the-dark suspenders thing to wear when running in the dark and L was with him when they got it so of course she insisted they pick the hot pink.
    But since I rarely run in the dark I haven’t used it yet- instead, it’s him using it for an evening run when the kids are in bed… loving his hot pink choice. 🙂
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..15 months baby and mom updateMy Profile

  10. I actually won’t run in the dark alone, ever. It freaks me out, so the only time I do a super zero dark thirty run is with a friend. I’d rather hit the treadmill if I don’t have anyone. Especially around here in the DC area…creepers everywhere!

  11. Angela, great tip that you offered about wearing a head lamp when running outside at night. It seems like my wife and I would need to pay attention to this tip. We both have a passion of running that our passion becomes a routine of running at night.

  12. And the most important of all–wear the proper running shoes! Mine is a pair of CrossFit shoes. I wear it anytime, anywhere whatever my workout type is.

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