If you have already experienced the Thrill of Night Running, you’ll understand why people should get out there and try the adventure of running in the dark. Running in low-lights has its challenges that can hurt your confidence during autumn/winter time, but the reward for persuading yourself to go out in the dark is even bigger. Dare venturing out in the dark! Trust us, running at night can be as safe and as comfortable as running in daylight.
If you’re still wondering how this is possible, here’s our top tips for staying safe when running in the dark:
1. Stay alert…
… and use all your senses. Turn off your tunes and be aware of your surroundings. If you’re running in a busy area, be alert to pedestrians and traffic. Always run against the flow of traffic so you can see vehicles coming towards you.
2. Be route wise
Be smart about your route choice. Ease yourself into night running gently with some easy well-lit runs before you brave the trails. Don’t try new routes for the first time in the dark. If you have a new route in mind, recce it in the daylight before running it after dark.
When recceing a new route, try to spot lamp posts or any source of lights around you that will be around you. This will allow you to know what to expect when you’ll run it at night. Indeed, if you go through darker streets, roads or trails, you’ll need to think about being seen and/or see.
3. Be seen
An obvious hazard for night running is the risk of not being seen. Make sure you wear the right gear so people can spot you. If running near traffic it’s essential you are highly visible. There is some fantastic running kit available to keep you safe… It’s all about loud, fluorescent colours, reflective material and flashing lights!
Every year, when Winter time comes, new brands’ ranges drop in stores and most of them will focus on reflectivity. Reflective shorts, tights, short or long sleeves tops or jackets, you’ll find the perfect piece of clothe to match your needs.
Brightly coloured jackets enhanced with reflective strips and details will improve your chance of being seen as well as protecting you from tougher weather. Some running jackets will provide 360 degree reflectivity, while others will only have a few strips. To help you choose the right jacket you also need to consider if you need a water resistant or a waterproof one.
Reflective Shorts or Tights
Temperatures can still be warm enough to wear shorts in October/November, so you may still want to wear one. Don’t worry, even if the focus is generally on tights during winter time, some brands will design reflective shorts (like Ronhill).
Reflective tights will feature shiny panels around calves and/or quads to light up your runs! Running through winter requires warmer clothes, so you may want to go with a thermal tight.
Hands, heads and ears can suffer with colder weather so it’s important to keep them warm! You can kill two birds with one stone by going for reflective gloves, headbands and hats; not only will they keep you warm, but you’ll also stay visible thanks to their reflective patterns. This is another great way to improve your chances of being seen in dark winter conditions.
This isn’t about transforming yourself into a running Christmas tree! But you can add lights on different part of your body if you already have non-reflective winter kit and you don’t want to invest in new clothes.
For instance, light clips are a great option to consider if you want a small, sturdy and ultra bright light source to add on your clothes, backpacks and bags.
Equally important when out in the dark is being able to see the terrain you are running over. Even if you’re running in a built-up area with street lights, you’ll encounter patches of total darkness, so often it’s safer to pack a head torch.
If you venture off road onto remote trails or rough tracks a good head torch is essential. Head torch technology has improved dramatically over recent years with torches becoming lightweight, brighter and significantly less expensive.
For instance, Petzl offer models featuring ‘Reactive’ lighting technology, meaning they automatically adjust the light intensity to the needs of the user. For example, dimming the beam after your eyes have adjusted to a certain light level. Clever right?
Don’t know how to choose a head torch? Go check our article on this matter.
5.Run with friends or let them know you’re out
If you’re unsure about running alone in the dark make it a sociable run and encourage friends and club mates out.
If you’re more the lone wolf type of runner, you can tell a family member, friend or flatmate where you plan to run and for roughly how long.
Some running watches like Garmin offer a « LiveTrack » option: you can use it so people can follow your position during your run. Don’t worry, you get to choose the persons you want to share your position with (they get an email). This can be seen an « extreme » option, but if it helps you feel better when you get out on your own, it constitutes a good solution!
…your mobile phone and ID just in case of any problems. For the peace of mind, it’s well worth a little bit of extra weight.
That’s it, with a little bit of planning and the right kit you can get out and enjoy the darkness. Remember to stay alert, stay visible and have fun!