If you read my last blog The Thrill of Night Running you will know that I love running at night and think everyone should get out there and experience the adventure of running in the dark. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have its challenges.
Here are my top tips for staying safe when running in the dark:
1. Stay alert…
…and use all your senses. Turn off your tunes and be 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 night running gently with some easy well-lit runs before you brave the 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
An obvious hazard for night running is the risk of not being seen, so make sure you wear the right gear so people can spot you. If running near traffic it’s essential you are highly visible. There is some fantastic running kit available to keep you safe… It’s all about loud, fluorescent colours, reflective material and flashing lights!
It’s a must have! Ronhill’s Vizion Radiance Jacket is one of the best out there. It has integrated (yet detachable) LED lights which are compatible with a range of Ronhill running products.
The lights have three modes; slow flash, fast flash and constant. The jacket is wind resistant, water repellent and breathable making it great for changing weather conditions.
The Hi-Vis Tight
In the same Vizion range Ronhill have developed a running tight with laser dot technology which is super reflective. Everyone needs a tight with shiny panels to light up their pins!
Shoes are not to be forgotten/out shone by clothing brands. Saucony’s Reflex Series consists of reflective editions of leading Saucony models. Designed with fully reflective midsoles and 360-degrees of reflectivity throughout, Reflex are a top choice for night running. I have the Reflex Zealot ISO² (neutral shoes) but there’s also the Reflex Ride 9 and the Hurricane ISO²s (if you’re after a stability shoe).
Look to brands like Nathan for lightweight and functional reflective accessories.
The Nathan Light Bender LED band is my favourite. It’s comfortable and wraps around your arm to provide full visibility in a choice of cool colours.
Equally important when out in the dark is being able to see the terrain you are running over. 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 pack a head torch.
If you venture off road onto remote trails or rough tracks a good head torch is essential. Head torch technology has improved dramatically over recent years with torches becoming lightweight, brighter and significantly less expensive.
Petzl’s latest models 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?
5. Keep warm
Be prepared for changing weather conditions. Always err on the side of caution and wear/take extra clothes when running at night.
I tend to take a waist pack so I can remove jacket/gloves/hat once I have warmed up and then if the weather changes or I cool down I have plenty clothes to put on. It is a good idea to 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.
That’s it! 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!!
Read our Best Reflective Running Gear blog next, for more detail on clothing and equipment that will help keep you visible head-to-toe this winter!