This is my first blog for Run 4 It so here’s a bit about me. My name is Steph Provan and I started running nearly five years ago, actually it was four years and nine months. I could probably tell you to the day but suffice to say it was a significant event in my life (not that I knew it at the time). I remember my first run very clearly, it was at night and it was exhausting! My second child was fifteen months old and I needed exercise. Prior to having children my main form of exercise was mountain biking but with the time constraints of two small people I was struggling to get out enough. I decided to go for a run around the streets of Aboyne where I live. It was January so it was cold and dark. I didn’t even have a head torch but stuck near the street lights. I ran flat out (not fast but flat out for my fitness) for 30 minutes and felt great, afterwards.
It was a revelation. I could get the same buzz from running for 30 minutes which took me three times that on my bike. I was pretty much instantly hooked and started going out two or three times a week in the dark evenings once my children were tucked up in bed.
Since then running has become a very important part of my life and I have competed in many races focusing mainly on the Scottish Hill Races and local trail races but also running 10ks, cross-countries, mountain marathons and duathlons.
Having run my first ever run in the dark I am definitely pro night running. So for those of you who are not sure about venturing out in the dark here is why I think you should:
Dark ‘n’ Daring
We live in Scotland and it is dark, a lot! From October until April if you don’t run in the dark it can be really difficult to keep up a consistent level of training. A lot of us, who either work full time or have young children, have no choice but to run in the dark. And although I started running at night out of necessity, now I most definitely do it for fun. It feels like a totally different experience to running in the daylight and the reward for persuading yourself to go out in the dark is even bigger.
Feel the Speed
When you run with only a head torch to light your way you only see objects that are relatively close to you and so the landscape zips past quickly giving you a heightened feeling of speed.
The lack of sight also helps keep you stay in the ‘here and now’. If you can’t see the top of the hill or the end of the long straight you tend not to think about it and just run in the moment.
One of the thrills of running at night is that instead of relying on your vision, as we tend to do during daylight running, your other senses become enhanced. I would ditch the headphones if you run with music and enjoy the sounds of the night. Smells and even touch can become amplified as you bound over the ground in the dark.
I have literally never gone for a run and regretted it and sometimes I think the less inviting the run – and let’s face it cold and dark isn’t hugely inviting – the better you feel for having done it.
After a busy day with all the usual stresses an evening run can be the best way to relax, clear your head and put life back into perspective.
I love going to bed and knowing that as soon as the light goes out I will be in a lovely deep sleep that only comes from being physically tired. Exercise improves sleep quality so when you wake up you feel more rested and raring to go.
That’s my two cents. Now hopefully I’ve convinced you to get out there and ENJOY night running and races?!
Night Running Events
There are a growing number of events taking place after dark catering for all abilities. Here’s some to consider checking out:
The Illuminator Half Marathon + is a dark 15 mile run or walk over rugged hill trails through the spectacular scenery of Glen Tanar Estate. Half way round there is an impressive light zone which illuminates the ancient Scots pine trees in a vibrant display of colour. The race starts and finishes in Aboyne on the 29th of October 2016. See you there!
The Supernova Kelpies is a fun filled 5k which gives competitors the opportunity to explore the home of two 30-metre high horses. Entrants are given an LED head torch to wear (and keep) and loud fluoro colours are compulsory! The race is taking place at Helix Park, Falkirk on the 12th and 13th of November 2016.
The Mighty Deer Stalker is a mighty tough night obstacle race. Mostly natural obstacles including river crossings and steep scree climbs mean, this race is certainly a challenge. With two distances to choose from and a post-race party, known as the Mighty Beerstalker, there is plenty incentive to sign up and get training. The race is taking place at Innerleithen on the 11th of March 2017.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out my next blog: Top Tips for Running At Night for advice on how to stay safe when running after dark!