Safety Tips When Running At Night!
Many runners like to get their exercise in first thing in the morning. Some of my running gal pals joke that they want to get the work in before their body realizes they are awake. In my online running group, the Sub-30 Club, they call it the Early Morning Club (EMC). If you are part of the EMC there are many considerations. My number one concern when running, no matter what the time of day, is safety. How do you keep yourself safe if you are running at night or at the crack of dawn when the rest of your family sleeps?
The number one thing you can do to keep yourself as safe as possible when running in the dark is to be bright. I mean literally here. To achieve that, you have two choices. You can either wear reflective gear or light-up gear.
What is the difference? Reflective clothing has strips on it that catch the headlights of approaching cars. These strips ensure that oncoming traffic can see you before they are right upon you. This helps keep you safe.
Light up safety gear does just that: it adds lights to the equation. If you are wearing a safety vest with lights, cars approaching can see you from very far away. The Tracer 360 is my favorite piece of safety gear. With tubing that lights up in various colors, you can’t miss someone wearing this piece of equipment!
You should also wear light-colored clothing. Hot pink, bright yellow and blaze orange help you to remain visible to approaching cars.
The next thing to consider is how to keep your footing safe. When I run in the dark, whether it is at night or before the break of dawn, I wear a headlamp. A headlamp helps you to illuminate the area in front of you so you can see what is up ahead.
As you are choosing a headlamp, there are some things to look for. First, you want one with a high lumen number. This ensures you can see longer distances and cut through the fog. Also, you need an adjustable head strap. Not everyone’s head is shaped exactly the same. I prefer a very soft strap with a sliding adjustment. This is so I can change it easily based on my headwear.
I prefer to wear my headlamp with either a baseball cap or stocking hat, depending on the time of year. I also prefer a headlamp that adjusts the angle of illumination. Sometimes I prefer to light up the area ahead of me while others, I shine it just in front of me. This is particularly true when the road is covered with snow and ice.
You can also purchase lights for your shoes. These little guys clip onto your shoes so you are looking specifically at where you will step next.
I also carry a flashlight when I run in the dark. I did not always do this until once, while out on a run, I found myself with a dead headlamp! I had to pull out my cellphone and use the flashlight on it to light my way back to safety. This was not an ideal situation! Now I carry a small flashlight in my right hand.
I am already very conservative with headphones and running. What I mean by that is I never wear complete headphones. If I am wearing one earbud, I keep the volume turned down low.
When running at night, I do not use headphones at all. I have two other options. Up until about a month ago, I played music quietly through the speaker on my phone. I can tuck my phone either into the pocket of my leggings or my running belt.
Recently, I purchased the Noxgear 39g personal Bluetooth speaker. That has been a real game-changer for me! The speaker clips to my apparel and I can play my music while I run, without the worry of missing sounds around me.
Run Facing Traffic
Another way to keep yourself safe is to obey an important basic rule of running, always run facing traffic. This keeps you aware of your surroundings.
As more drivers have distractions such as cellphones and other things intruding on their focus while behind the wheel, it is even more important that runners remain vigilant about their personal safety.
Does Someone Know Where You Are?
You should always let someone know that you are running and where you are going. If you live alone, can you contact someone who you know will pay attention to how long you are gone and expect communication when you are finished?
Giving someone your anticipated route, mileage and when you anticipate you will return can help keep you safe.
Although we all have favorite routes, it is also in your best interest to vary your running route. It can make you vulnerable to always be in the exact same place at the same time each day.
Some People Carry Spray
If you run in an area populated by wild animals, you may wish to carry bear spray. Sure, the bear may be more afraid of you than you are of it, but that is small comfort if you encounter one on your run.
In populated urban areas, some runners feel safer carrying pepper spray. This is a very personal decision but may result in you feeling safer.
Find A Buddy Or Group
There is safety in numbers! Try to find yourself a running buddy so you are not running alone (in the dark or otherwise!). There may even be a group that runs together at your favorite running time. It is true that you may need to drive a few minutes to get to the group’s rally point, but if you are nervous to run alone in the dark it may be worth it for you.
A buddy is also good for having an accountability partner. There are so many reasons to run with a pal!
General Safety Tips:
Not necessarily specific to running in the dark, there are other tips to think about:
- Watch the weather.
- Carry a phone.
- Bring your dog!
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Don’t zone out!
Sometimes people hesitate to discuss safety because thinking about it makes them feel vulnerable. Don’t let that happen to you! It is better to be prepared and realistic than caught unaware.
Run safe and happy, friends!