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Can you believe I don’t have a single hilarious nighttime running story to tell you? I am really fortunate that I don’t. There have been multiple occasions when in hindsight I knew I wouldn’t be running that route after dark again. Well, there was that one brief moment when my life flashed before my eyes. We were running in a rainstorm before dawn and a car started veering off the road in our direction – way off the road in our direction. (S)He was probably texting. But, thankfully, that’s the extent of the story. After a few obscene words and gestures, we returned to our normal (but, freezing) run.
(You know you’ve trained some serious miles if you read “running in a rainstorm before dawn” without flinching.)
At any rate, running in the dark can be a dangerous adventure. Most of the fall and winter months we burn some serious daylight on our evening runs. Implement one or more of these 6 nighttime safety tips before you head out into the dark for your next run.
This may sound obvious, but the dark can sneak up on you. If you’re heading out at dusk, be sure to wear a headlamp or other lighting system that will illuminate your path. Cracks, sticks, rocks, & other hazardous obstacles are impossible to see in the dark. Your hands, knees, and maybe even your chin will thank you.
There are many popular products to help you light your path on your evening runs. Jesse and I mostly use headlamps when heading into the dusk or dark. I don’t love headlamps because they squeeze my head if they’re too tight and shift around if they’re too loose. But, I’d rather deal with those inconveniences than trip over something and fall. I recently tried running with a hat clip and liked that much better. I wear a hat or visor on every run, so this felt much more natural than strapping something bulky to my head.
2. Be Seen
Every teenager has heard it from their parents, “it’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I don’t trust all the other drivers out there.” This same parental guidance applies here. Don’t assume that drivers can see you. Wear reflective clothing or a flashing light that alerts drivers to your presence.
Many articles of running clothes come with strategically placed strips of reflective trim that is really nice for a wear and run option. Unless you’re intentionally choosing this type of clothing for evening or early morning runs, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of including other precautions.
3. Tell Someone Your Route
Make sure you tell someone else you’re heading out, the route you’re taking, and when you expect to return. It is good to have someone waiting for you in case something happens, like a bad fall, so they can come looking for you if too much time has passed.
4. Carry Identification
Bring your driver’s license or wear a Road ID during your nighttime runs in case of an emergency. Road ID’s contain ICE information so emergency personnel know who to contact if you aren’t able to tell them. Jesse does crazy things like run Ultras. So, I bought him a Road ID to wear when he heads out to train for hours at a time. It gives me peace of mind to know he’s wearing it.
5. Buddy Up
Gather the troops! Run in pairs or more. Larger groups are easier to spot and attackers are less likely to strike if there are multiple people together.
6. Run in Well-lit Areas
Choose streets that are well-lit and be alert. It’s a good idea to leave your music at home when you’re running in the dark. Let all your senses warn you of signs of danger from cars, obstacles, or crazy people.
I know you won’t be skipping any scheduled runs due to shorter amounts of daylight. Do the people who love you a favor and implement these safety tips into your training routine during the upcoming winter months. It will ease their minds.
Am I missing any tips you could share? What are your nighttime running tips?
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