It is this time of the year again…
The nights are getting longer and dusk sets in sooner. Unless you are a treadmill or lunchtime runner you will have to run in the dark at one point to maintain your running schedule.
So here are my top 5 tips for running in the dark:
1. Wear bright colours and reflective clothing while running in the dark
Running in the dark generally means that you are not as visible for others. This can get quite dangerous in traffic, if drivers notice you too late. Visibility is key if you want to avoid accidents (who doesn’t really).
So skip the fashionable black in black for bright colored clothing with reflective items. And in that case: more is more.
You will not win the award for best dressed, but better safe than sorry.
2. Wear a headlamp
Once you made sure others can see you, you need to make sure you can see yourself. This includes seeing other people as well as the ground underneath you. You definitely want to avoid tumbling, falling and spraining an ankle because you did not see the hole in the ground.
So wear a headlamp. I use one by Petzl or the waterproof Black Diamond Storm.
Whatever headlamp you use, make sure it has a broad strap and fits comfortably. It also helps if you wear a headband under it so it is not too hard on your forehead.
3. Pick a good route
Where you run is probably as important for your safety as what you are wearing. One important factor of course is traffic. Ideally pick a route that is well lit, but with low speed limits. Some parks are great options, as are central urban areas. Remote trails and rural roads are not (in my opinion).
Another thing to factor in as a woman: pick a route that other people (pedestrians, cyclists etc.) use. I don’t want to scare you completely, but there have been cases in my neighborhood where women have been harassed.
I am not saying we women should be constantly scared, but running a highly frequented route will help you stay safe.
4. Run in a group
The same is my number one reason why I love running with a group in the dark: I feel safer in a group.
But this is not the only reason. Running in darkness is not the nicest thing to do. Even I struggle to motivate myself when it comes to running in the dark.
However running in a group makes it much easier. You run, chat and laugh together, making everything much easier. The night run will be over really fast, I promise.
5. Leave the headphones at home
When visibility is already poor because of darkness you do not want to give another essential sense away by wearing headphones. Hearing everything around you is absolutely important for your safety.
If you can’t seem to motivate yourself without music, turn the volume to an absolute minimum, or just use one headphone if possible.
Again: safety first!