Between your everyday schedule and the weather, it may well be that the only time you can squeeze in your run is early in the morning or late at night. Add the winter months to the mix, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that any sign of daylight will have disappeared by the time you get home from work.
For some, running in the dark is a weekly or even daily occurrence, but for others, the very thought of heading out for a run after sundown can be pretty daunting.
However, with the correct steps in place, you can reap the rewards from staying consistent with your running and building healthy, long-lasting habits. Besides, nothing should stop you from achieving your goals, very least the dark.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips to help you build your confidence and stay safe when running at night or early in the morning.
HOW TO RUN IN THE DARK SAFELY
1. STAY VISIBLE
It may seem obvious, but taking extra precautions to ensure you’re visible is absolutely essential when it comes to running in the dark.
Wearing brightly-coloured clothing or clothing with reflective detailing will help others to see you and give them enough time to react, whether that be runners, cyclists or motorists. To add to that, wearing reflective accessories, such as arm straps, as well as small LED running lights or a headtorch, can make all the difference when it comes to being visible to others.
Last, but by no means least, make sure you’re visible from all angles, so that anyone behind you can see you too.
2. CHOOSE A WELL-LIT ROUTE
Running in the dark is challenging enough without the challenge of uneven pavements, roads or trails and a flow of traffic. That’s why it’s important to choose a well-lit route, so you can perceive potential hazards and avoid them.
Planning your route ahead of time can also help you avoid fast, dangerous roads and poorly lit areas, keeping you safe and focused on enjoying your run.
It may not be your favourite route to run, but the most well-lit route is your safest choice in the dark.
On that note, also try to vary your routes and the time you go running, as this reduces your risk of being a ‘potential target’.
3. AVOID LOUD MUSIC
Nothing gets you motivated for a run quite like blasting your favourite beats through your headphones, but when it comes to running in the dark, being aware of your surroundings is crucial.
In an ideal world, you really want to ditch your headphones altogether, as cutting off your sense of hearing means you’re less likely to hear oncoming traffic, cyclists, pedestrians or any other threat.
If you can’t go without your headphones, turn the volume down to a level where you can hear what’s happening around you and turn off noise cancelling mode.
4. RUN WITH OTHERS
You’ll have no doubt heard the saying, ‘there’s safety in numbers’. Well, when it comes to running in the night or early morning, nothing rings more true.
Whether it’s your best girl group or a club, there are plenty of ways to avoid running alone. Not only does running with others help you feel safer, a group of well-lit runners is much more likely to stand out to other road users compared to a lone runner. This gives other road users more time to react, slow down and keep you safe.
Not to mention, running as a group gives you that super special feeling that you just don’t get from hitting the track alone.
5. TAKE YOUR PHONE WITH YOU
Let’s face it, we hardly need to be reminded to keep our phone on us, but it really is important to have it handy (and charged!) when heading out in the dark.
Having a device that allows you to contact friends and family will give you peace of mind that should you need help, they’re just a call away.
Your phone is also your navigation tool, so should you get lost whilst out on your run, your phone can help you, quite literally, get back on track.
6. RUN AGAINST THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC
Think about it, it’s much easier to avoid cars if you can see them coming.
Running against the flow of traffic applies to whether you’re running on the road or pavement:
- If you’re on the road, you can assess the risk ahead to help avoid traffic and stay safe.
- If you’re on the pavement, it reduces your risk should you have to step into the road - still always look both ways.
Try to avoid busy roads and those with no pavements, where possible.
7. TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU’RE GOING
Sharing is caring and planning your route ahead of time means you can share it with a loved one, so they know exactly where you’re going and how long it should take before you’re back home again.
Let them know roughly when you’re thinking of heading out and if you want to go that step further, it might be worthwhile sharing your location during your run.
Some apps, such as Strava and even WhatsApp, have a tracking feature that allows you to share your live location whilst on the move.
8. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Even if you’re running on a path or in a park with no cars, always pay attention to what’s around you. Before you stop or turn around, make sure your path is clear. This goes for running in the dark and in daylight.
To add to that, if something doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and move to a well-lit area or head home as quickly as possible. It’s always better to be a little over cautious.
Whether you decide to implement all or just some of our tips for running in the dark, the bottom line is: always stay visible, always run with someone else and always carry your mobile - and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
If the thought of running in the dark still isn't for you, there's always the treadmill.