With the winter equinox passing, the days are finally getting longer. Alas daylight savings is still a ways off, which means several more months of running in the dark. If you are more scared of running on the treadmill than running in the dark make sure you follow these seven safety tips to stay safe.
1. Carry a cell phone and identification
This tip is important no matter what time of year you run. I always run with my cell phone and driver’s license. You never know when you will get injured or lost, or come across another runner who needs help. If you own a smart phone, there are apps like Guardly or RoadID that track your GPS location and send notifications to selected contacts or authorities if you run into trouble. I carry mine in a SPIbelt that sits snugly around my waist.
2. Choose a familiar, well-lit route
Running at night is not the time to try a new route. Stick to familiar routes that are close to home. This helps make sure that you’re familiar with the neighbourhood and every crack and corner on your route.
I find that running even the most familiar routes at night provides a sense of novelty and newness as I noticed different things that I miss during the daylight. When possible run on the sidewalks, facing traffic. There have been incidents of runners being hit from behind on sidewalks by drivers who have veered off the road.
Also, run in areas that are well-lit and frequented by with other runners, walkers or cyclists. Save your trails and secluded routes for daylight runs.
3. Be seen
Wear colours that will let cyclists, drivers and even other runners and pedestrians know you’re there. Bright colours, including whites, yellow and neons (orange and green are popular this winter) will help you be seen. Look for clothing that incorporate reflective materials in strategic places, or wear reflective arm and leg straps. I also suggest wearing a light source, such as a headlamp, shoe flashers, knuckle lights or carrying a LED flashlight.
4. Join a group
As I wrote in my post on running as a team sport, there is strength (and motivation) in numbers—and safety as well! If you can’t connect with a group and still need to get a night time run in, let a few people know the estimated time/length of your run and the route.
5. Unplug the music
Though some of like listening to music or podcasts while running, it’s a good idea to leave your headphones at home when running at night. If you absolutely cannot run without music, only keep one ear bud in. Either way, it is important to hear what is going on around you in the dark to make up for diminished vision..
6. Wear a hat
This is a less obvious tip that I just came across recently. Just as a hat protects your eyes from the sun during the day, it can help protect them from the headlights of oncoming cars at night.
What advice do you have for running in the dark? Leave a comment and let me know.