It’s an unfortunate reality that the days get shorter and shorter, which means that we are often running in the dark in the winter months. Some people head indoors, but there’s something so incredible about pounding the pavement at dawn and dusk! So don’t swear off the outdoors just yet – with just a few precautions you’ll be good to go to keep your training on track.
ONE: Plan your route
A route that’s well-lit, familiar, and more heavily trafficked is going to be safer than a dark, lightly used trail. If you can, run in places that have well-maintained sidewalks and working street lights as well. It’s also important to not run the same route every day, at the same time. Make sure you mix it up a little bit (variety is the spice of life, after all!)
If sidewalks just aren’t available for you, make sure to run against the flow of traffic so you aren’t caught unaware by a vehicle, and make sure to run on the shoulder, not in the lane. Sometimes bike lanes are safe places to run, but make sure you’re moving over for cyclists (who should be following the flow of traffic.)
TWO: Be Aware of Your Surroundings
You also need to be aware of your surroundings while you’re running. It’s easy to zone out and let the miles click by, but with the added element of darkness, you’ll need to be extra aware of vehicles, cyclists, potholes, and other pedestrians. If you must run with music, make sure that you’re keeping only one earbud in, or use headphones that allow ambient noise. If you just can’t stand the silence, bring a buddy along! Having a friend to chat with will double your awareness and make the miles fly by.
THREE: Dress Smart!
We’ll address safety gear in-depth in another post, but in the meantime here’s a few gear tips. At a minimum, you should be wearing the brightest, most reflective apparel you can, with at least one blinking tail light. Some people think that simply wearing brightly colored clothing will do the trick, but in fact, it doesn’t help your visibility until a car is almost right next to you. Those reflectors and lights will expand the distance from which you are visible far more than your highlighter yellow shirt! You may also want to think about a headlamp or torch to light the way if you’re in a place with few or zero street lights.
FOUR: Carry ID!
Make sure to carry some form of ID just in case. That may mean carrying your license, wearing a Road ID bracelet with your emergency info, or, if you carry your phone, using the free Road ID app. It utilizes the lock screen on your phone to list your emergency contacts and any important medical information.
FIVE: Relax and have fun!
There’s no need to be freaked out by running in the dark, as long as you take the proper precautions. You might even find that you really enjoy being out as the world around you is waking up, and you’ll catch some really amazing sunrises and sunsets!
© Nicole Gainacopulos, Holly Martin and momentumMKE.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to momentumMKE and authors Nicole Gainacopulos and Holly Martin with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.