How to Run Safely in the Dark
Running in the dark can be a surreal experience. Without being able to see the passing landscape, your run becomes more internally focused. When all you can see are your own footsteps, you learn to concentrate inward.
With daylight savings robbing our evening light, running in the dark is more and more of a reality. Unless you have a flexible schedule that allows you to run midday, more than likely you’ll be running without the precious help of the sun – morning or evening.
Although I’m limited to running in the dark now, I still prefer running outside over a treadmill. Now that it’s fall, the cold, windy, rainy and dark mornings don’t make it easy. In addition to dressing properly for autumn running, I’ve also learned a few tricks about staying safe while running in the dark.
When running in the dark, it boils down to making sure you can see where you’re going, and that others can see you. You need things that light up and things that reflect. In honor of National Running Safety Month, here are a few tips to help you run safely in the dark.
How to See Where You’re Going
Headlamps are an amazing tool that will give you valuable confidence while running in the dark. There are dozens of styles and prices, but you can get a good one for $30. Look for an LED model that’s lightweight and won’t bounce around on your head.
Make sure it offers both a spot and wide angle beam. I have an older model Black Diamond Gizmo Headlamp. I bought it for camping, but it works just as well for running.
Knuckle Lights are lights you wear on your knuckles. The main benefit to these is that you can direct the light wherever you point them (like a flashlight, but easier to carry).
Unlike a headlamp, you can keep one pointed straight ahead, while the other is scanning your periphery. The downside is that you have to carry them.
There’s certainly no shortage of blinking, flashing and strobing LED devices. From clip on buttons, to slap bracelets and even headbands and vests. Although not intended to help you see where you’re going, they can provide enough light at times. Ideally, they alert others you’re near.
Let Others See You
Vests look super dorky, but are probably the most important thing you can wear to attract attention. They are “comfortable”, lightweight, and don’t restrict movement, allowing for a full range of motion. If it’s fitting right, you won’t even notice you’re wearing it – but everyone else will!
3M makes an inexpensive reflective tape that you can apply to whatever clothing or gear you already own. For about $5 a roll, it’s an easy (although temporary), way to run safely in the dark. You will be more visible to cars and others.
Most running gear comes with some form of reflective material built in. Quality running jackets have multiple reflective strips on all sides. Most shirts have a logo or other printing made from something reflective. If you’re not sure, take a selfie with the flash on. You’ll find out quick!
Running in the dark can be a fun new way to enjoy our sport. Before your next run, stop by your local running retailer and pickup some sort of running light or reflective gear to stay safe.