If you are an avid runner and do not want to miss out on your daily runs even when the days get shorter, and it gets dark early in the evening, you are probably confronted with the prospect of running in the dark hours. The same goes for those of you who prefer pre-dawn runs.
Running in the dark can be an unnerving experience, and poses some risks which are not associated with running in the light hours of the day.Here are some precautions to take to avoid the risks and to stay safe while running in the dark.
- LIGHTS: The most obvious tip is to get some lights to guide you through the dark route. Use a head light, a torch, arm light bands or another light which you find comfortable, so that you can see any objects or obstacles ahead of you. This will help you avoid from tripping or running into something while you are enjoying your run. A proper light will enable you to see any suspicious strangers, wild animals or other potential dangers on your route in time in order to avoid running too close to them. Lights will allow for you to be noticed by others as well.
- If possible, get a running buddy for your night runs. Running with company is not only more fun, but will definitely make you feel more secure in the dark.
- Switch to wearing reflective running apparel, footwear and gear, especially if you are running on the roads at night. True, traffic isn’t usually as intense at night as it is during the day, but you want to ensure that if there is a vehicle on the road, the driver will be able to notice you from a sufficient distance and thus avoid any incidents. Leave those black leggings at home, and opt for brightly colored clothes instead.
- No headphones. However much you may be accustomed to running with headphones, it is safer to skip this habit for your night runs. Since your eyesight will be limited in the dark, you need to be able to rely on your other senses instead, and hearing is a key sense to use in order to stay unharmed and confident when running at night. You should be able to hear incoming traffic, or if somebody is running, shouting or trying to warn you about something. If you really cannot do without your favorite playlist, then try running with only one ear plug on, and leave the other ear open to hear the outside noises.
- Be prepared for anything. Carry your ID with you, as well as your phone, some cash and in case you have asthma – an inhaler with you.
- Take it slow. Even if you are an experienced runner and are used to running at a faster pace, running at night poses much more risks of running into obstacles, uneven terrains and other hazards. To prevent tripping or running into something, make sure you run slower so that you have better control of the track and so that you stay safe during your dark runs.
- Get a good pair of running shoes, which provide you more protection when running on uneven terrains, and which provide better traction, especially if you will be running on wet or icy nights. Choose a comfortable pair of running shoes which fit your shoe size, form and gait type. If they have reflective elements as well – they are perfect!
- Always run against the direction of the traffic if you are running on a road. This will allow the drivers to see you from further away, and also will help you see the incoming cars too in time to make sure you safely pass by them. Take extra care at bends where drivers may have trouble spotting you in time. If you need to – cross to the other side of the road until you pass such risky bends on the road at night. Be careful when crossing the road at all times!
- Plan and know your running route. You do not want to be experimenting with new routes when you are running at night. Make sure you know of any obstacles, risky areas on your route in order to be prepared to avoid them or be extra careful when passing through them.