top safety tips and advice for nighttime running
If you're living in the Northern Hemisphere, it's that time of year again when days are shorter. With sunrise coming later, and sunset coming earlier, there's a solid chance your runs will be, at least partially, in the dark.
Running at dawn, dusk, and nighttime can be dangerous without the right preparation and gear. If you're new to running (and even if you aren't!), it can be downright freaky being out there in the dark.
Here are my top tips to get you running in the dark, safely.
Light up like a Christmas tree.
At the very least, wear a reflective vest. These can be actual vests, or just neon straps with reflective tape down the middle. You can also add clip-on lights for extra visibility. You can find both of these things on Amazon, at Walmart, and at your local running store.
One of my favorite pieces of running gear is the Noxgear Tracer 360 vest. It has a reflective chest strap with clear cording that loops over your shoulders and lights up to provide 360 degrees of visibility.
You can cycle through solid colors and flashing sequences. I like to pick colors to match my outfit... because I'm extra like that. Pro tip: I've added their optional reflective shoulder straps for additional visibility.
Wear clothing that contrasts from the things around you.
Generally this means wearing bright- and light-colored clothing. Neon is a personal favorite! Pro tip: If there's a lot of snow on the ground, I suggest creating contrast with darker clothes. It seems counterintuitive, but I swear, it works against a white background.
Grab a head lamp.... or some sort of bright light.
I went simple with a Petzl Tikkina lamp that has two brightness settings. Mine takes AAA batteries, but some of them on the market are rechargable.
There are so many different brands and styles. If you're not a fan of wearing something around your head, some clip onto your reflective vest, cap visor, or even your shoes. Pro tip: If you wear glasses, I suggest wearing a baseball cap or visor with your head lamp. I found that if I wear mine without a hat and angle the light too far down, it reflects inside my glasses.
Don't wear headphones.
Running in the dark is creepy enough. You'll want to be able to hear what's going on around you. Maybe that sound is a neighbor walking their dog. Maybe it's a serial killer. Who knows? Pro tip: If you must wear headphones, go with bone-conduction headphones, like Aftershokz. These are designed to make it so you can hear everything around you while you listen to tunes. use your regular earbuds and only plug in one ear.
Bring a buddy.
Your buddy could be of the human variety or a four-legged friend. Either way, you're safer running in numbers.
Pro tip: Don't have a running buddy? Find one! Many local running stores, and even breweries, coordinate group runs. Ladies, you can also look for a local chapter of She RUNS This Town/Moms RUN This Town. Still can't find a friend? Just in case... carry some pepper spray or mace.
Know your route.
Getting lost any time of day is the worst, let alone in the dark. Also, be aware if your route includes sidewalks, or if you'll be running on the shoulder. Pro tip: If you're running on roads, always run against traffic. You want to be able to see cars approaching you so that you can avoid if necessary (hello, distracted drivers!). This is important running in daylight, too.
Running at night can be thrilling at first, but eventually, you'll start to get used to it and it just becomes part of your routine. The best part is when we start to move out of those dark months and catching a sunrise during your morning run!