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10 Tips for Running Safely in the Dark

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There are several reasons you might be running when it's dark.

Between your schedule and the weather, maybe the only time you can squeeze in your run is early in the morning or late at night. Then there are winter months when running in the dark is almost a guarantee since the sun has already gone down by the time you get home from work.

Going for a run — no matter the time of day — always comes with a few safety considerations. Running safely in the dark, however, comes with even more.

"Not only are we more vulnerable to potential threats around us if we're running when it's dark, especially if we're alone, the lack of visibility also poses a safety issue if you're going to be running along a road or in your neighborhood," says Kristin Salinas, athletic trainer at Houston Methodist.

The good news is that there are several things you can do to make running in the dark as safe as possible.

10 safety tips for running in the dark
Sometimes it's easy to reschedule your run for a time when it's light outside. Other times, it's not — especially if you're training for a marathon and need to fit several runs in throughout the week.

From running gear and clothing to easy safety measures you can take, here are ten tips Salinas recommends:

1. Wear brightly colored clothing. If you're running near traffic, it's important to be as visible as possible. Headlights shine best on bright colors, so whether it's your shorts, tights, shirt or tank, wear something bright.

2. Wear reflective gear. Another way to make yourself more visible is to wear something reflective. The options include reflective vests, belts, harnesses, wrist straps, arm bands and tape.

3. Attach a light to your running belt, shoes or hat. Not only does running with a light make you more visible to drivers, it can also help prevent injury, especially if you're running on uneven terrain in the dark.

4. Plan your route carefully. It's always a good idea to know what crime is like in your area, but it's particularly important if you plan to be running at night. Even if it means driving to a safer running route, opt for well-lit sidewalks or paths in busy areas.

5. Avoid using noise-canceling headphones and listening to loud music. There's nothing like blasting your music as you run. But when it's dark and you're alone, it's important to be able to pick up road noise and foot traffic, not an easy task when both your hearing and sight are compromised.

6. Run on sidewalks and take extra care at intersections. At night, it can be hard for drivers to spot a runner. If you're running in close proximity to traffic, keep a safe distance by running on sidewalks. And always be sure to check for traffic before crossing an intersection, even if you have the right of way.

7. Run with a friend or dog. As they say, there's safety in numbers — whether that's another person or your pet. If you can't find a running buddy, ask someone to bike alongside you.

8. Let someone know you're going for a run. Just in case something does happen, let a loved one or friend know how long you plan to be gone, how many miles you're going and the direction you're headed. You might even use your smartphone to share your location with them during your run.

9. Consider carrying self-defense supplies. If you're running alone, consider wearing a belt or keychain that holds some form of crime deterrent. But only use it if you are actually in danger of physical harm.

10. Carry an ID. Having identification and emergency contact information readily available is an important part of running safety, especially when you're alone. For instance, you can program your smartphone to make your emergency contacts accessible without unlocking the phone, Salinas notes.

How to start working out in the morning
If you're just not comfortable with night running, adjust your training schedule so your run begins just after sunrise.

"Switching your routine can be challenging at first, especially if you're not a morning person," says Salinas. "That said, there are things you can do to make adjusting to a morning run routine easier."

Here are Salinas' tips for running in the morning:

  • Set your clothes out the night before
  • Plan your route, pace and timing so you don't feel rushed afterwards
  • Adjust your bedtime if you'll be waking up earlier than usual
  • Set your alarm — building in time for your mind and body to wake up
  • Have a light snack before your run, such as an apple, banana or half a bagel
  • Find a good playlist that pumps you up as you get ready

 

By: Katie McCallum

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