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.

9 comments on “Tips for Running in the Dark

  1. I just bought the Petzl Headlamp a few days ago! It’s been a long time since I have run in the dark, but I probably will do it more soon with winter and trying to fit in a run before family time.

  2. I think you’ve heard my story and know why I don’t often run in the dark. I was attacked running very early in the morning. It’s not the dark that worries me, it’s being alone. My husband and I have run together in the dark for years (back in “the day” when we were doing lots of marathons we’d get out by about 3:30 am).

    These days when I do run alone in the dark I’m pulled between lighting up the night and wearing dark clothes so no one will see me (leaving me to avoid cars, etc). I do end up wearing reflective gear because of safety, but the thought is always there.
    Debbie recently posted..Temecula Half Marathon Race Recap. Plus 20 Years Running…TogetherMy Profile

  3. Super, super helpful. Some of these I need to incorporate beyond even dark, like Road ID or something.
    I like the Nathan and slap bracelet clip ons, but also need to look into a head lamp or something for portions of the East River without the best lighting. And the Central Park tunnels.

  4. Hi Angela,

    There’s some great advice here. I also like to wear a small flashing light on my arm (closest to oncoming traffic) – if I have to run on roads at night. Im also prefer CREE headlights as I find them brighter and give a more even light.

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