Safety is, of course, paramount when running in the dark. Running on or off road in the autumn and winter months presents several challenges. There’s motorists, fellow runners and pedestrians to navigate – and potholes, roots and ruts to dodge! So you need to be extra cautious about where and how you run.
Here are a few road rules to live by when running in the dark:
1. Stay alert…
…and use all your senses. Go without music or alternatively, wear open-ear bone conduction headphones, so you remain totally aware of your surroundings. If you’re running in a busy area, be alert to pedestrians and traffic. Always run against the flow of traffic so you can see vehicles coming towards you.
2. Be route wise
Be smart about your route choice. Ease yourself into running in the dark gently, with some easy well-lit runs, before you brave the remote trails. Don’t try new routes for the first time in the dark. If you have a new route in mind, recce it in the daylight before running it after dark.
3. Be seen
Make sure you wear the right gear so people can spot you! If you’re running near traffic it’s essential you are highly visible. There is some fantastic reflective gear available to keep you safe… it’s all about loud fluorescent colours, safety lights and reflectors!
It’s a must have! Ronhill’s Momentum Sirius Jacket (£70) is one of the best out there. It’s a lightweight, breathable, windshell jacket with 360 degree print reflectivity. The Activelite fabric has also been treated with a durable, water repellent finish to ensure water repellency in all but the worst conditions.
The Hi-Vis Tight
Gents, try Ronhill’s Infinity Nightfall Tight (£58) featuring highly reflective stripe graphics – front, side and back – to keep you safe and seen. Powerlite fabric with a high content of elastane provides excellent support with great stretch and recovery.
Ladies, team Ronhill’s Momentum Sirius Tight (£45) with the Momentum Sirius Jacket for a stylish matching set. Interlocking circle print graphics round the lower leg provide 360 degree print reflectivity. Regulite thermal fabric with a high content of elastane provides great stretch and recovery.
Check out Ronhill’s collection of hats, headbands, gloves and safety lights for added visibility and protection. The attachable Vizion LED strobe (£7) and Light Armband (at £18) are among our top favourites offering two lighting modes: permanent or flashing, and up to 150 hours battery power.
Being able to see the terrain you are running over is as equally important as being seen. Even if you’re running in a built-up area with street lights, you’ll encounter patches of total darkness, so often it’s safer to carry a head torch.
If you venture off road onto remote trails or rough tracks a quality head torch is essential. Head torch technology has improved dramatically over recent years with torches becoming lightweight, brighter and significantly less expensive.
Petzl’s top-end models such as the Reactik+ feature REACTIVE lighting technology, meaning they automatically adjust the light intensity to the needs of the user. For example, dimming the beam after your eyes have adjusted to a certain light level. Clever right?
Alternatively, if you’re after a fuss free headtorch the Petzl Tikkina at £20 is ideal. It’s compact and easy to use featuring one button to switch between three lighting modes – proximity, movement and distance vision.
Powered by batteries, or Petzl’s CORE rechargeable battery, it provides you with 150 lumens of light output. Great for running, camping, walking and DIY!
5. Keep warm
Be prepared for changing weather conditions. Always err on the side of caution and wear/take extra layers when running during colder months.
We recommend running with a waist pack so you can remove jacket/gloves/hat once you’ve warmed up and then if the weather changes or you cool down, you have plenty clothes to put back on.
Make sure you layer up with a suitable set of base layers. Thermal winter base layers come in a variety of weights and will keep you cosy on frosty mornings and snowy nights.
6. Run with friends
If you’re unsure about running alone in the dark, make it a sociable run and encourage friends and club mates out.
…your mobile phone and ID just in case of any problems. For the peace of mind, it’s well worth a little bit of extra weight.
8. Let someone know you are out!
Tell a family member, friend or flatmate where you plan to run and for roughly how long.
With a little bit of planning and the right kit you can get out and enjoy the darkness. Remember to stay alert, stay visible and have fun! For more advice on clothing and equipment that will help keep you visible head-to-toe this winter, check out our Best Reflective Running Kit blog!