As daylight savings time draws near and the days grow shorter, you might find your late afternoon run turning into a night run, and for those training for a marathon this winter, your mileage is likely only increasing week by week.
Night runs can be hazardous in that visibility is limited for you, for drivers, and potentially for others on your running path. In order to stay safe, don’t miss these top tips:
Tips for Night Running
Diminished visibility when you are running after the sun has set means you need to be on higher alert than normal and using your other senses to keep aware of your surroundings. Your hearing will be key to picking up on oncoming traffic or other runners and pedestrians so avoid using headphones and listening to music.
There are a handful of items you will want to have on your person when night running including your cell phone in case you need to make a call for help as well as your ID. You cell phone might also be useful as a flashlight if you need to inspect something or get lost, and your ID will help potential first responders identify you in case of an emergency. For runners concerned about safety, run with as much light as possible and even consider carrying a small cannister of pepper spray or mace with you.
Run Familiar and Well-lit Routes
Leave the exploration and new trail discovery to the daytime hours and stick with familiar routes through neighborhoods and communities you know well that have adequate street lighting. Even an area you have traversed a hundred times during the day may look and feel completely different at night, so it’s important not to try anything brand new at night and risk getting lost or hurt.
Just like you might cover up for a cold weather run or ditch the layers for a hot summer run, it’s important to tailor your running outfit to standout in the night time darkness. Wear bright colored, reflective running clothes and even consider strapping on flashing running bands or a runner’s headlamp for added visibility. If recovering from a fitness injury like plantar fasciitis or stone pain, wear the best running insole that is going to support your stride and keep you safe and injury free at night.
Bring a Friend
Women especially should be weary of running at night by themselves, simply because of the increased risk of attack. If you’re partaking in training at night, invite a friend to come run with you, run with your dog, or find a running group you can join. Always tell at least one person when you are leaving for a night run, even if it’s just texting your mom – in case you are unable to get home, someone will have known what you were up to last.
Run Against Traffic
Keeping an eye on traffic as well as making yourself the most visible to drivers when road running at night is best achieved when running against traffic. Wear a reflective visor or cap to avoid glare from oncoming headlights, and stick to sidewalks, not road shoulders, as much as possible.
The most important night running tip is to never ignore your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right or the little hairs are standing up on the back of your neck, head home or to a busier area where you feel safer. No workout is worth your own personal safety!
-By Joe Flemming