As you probably know, I’ve been a morning runner for years now. Once I realized how much I prefer to wake up and get it done, I never looked back. Often times that means running in the dark. While I would prefer daylight or at least a sunrise, we are getting to the point in the year where that doesn’t happen before at least 7am. I thought I would share some tips for running in the dark in case you are wondering how to get your morning runs done during this dark time of year. These tips obviously apply to running at night as well!
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Best Tips for Running in the Dark
Focus on Safety
This post isn’t specifically about how to stay safe when running, but these two topics go hand in hand. Runner safety becomes even more important when running in the dark. Most of these tips are related to staying safe in the dark but also keep in mind general safety tips like letting someone know where you are going and when you will be back.
Use a headlamp or other lights
It’s definitely headlamp season now! I have a headlamp and knuckle lights, but I prefer to wear a headlamp in the fall/winter. During the summer I can get away with using one knuckle light. When it’s hot and humid I prefer not to have a band around my head. But on very dark mornings the headlamp does a better job of lighting the way (it doesn’t move quite as much) and it leaves my hands free.
Run in familiar areas
It’s important to know where you are going when running in the dark for many reasons. Depending on where you live, it may be best to stay close to home. The last thing you want is to get lost while out running in the dark!
Run on paved/flat surfaces
You should also consider the type of surface you are running on. I actually prefer running in the streets over the sidewalks because there are less bumps. Try to find a smooth surface that will minimize your risk of tripping.
Find well-lit areas
Even if you are wearing a headlamp, it can be really helpful to run in areas that are well lit. The headlamp will only do so much (lighting up the area in front of you) but if there are other lights around you can see what is further ahead as well as off to the side. There are a lot of street lamps where I run and if one of them is out I really notice the difference!
Leave the music at home
For safety reasons, try not to listen to anything while you are running in the dark. You want to be able to hear everything going on around you. If you must listen to something use either one earbud or headphones like AfterShokz that still allow you to hear your surroundings. And podcasts/audiobooks are probably a better option than loud music.
Wear light clothing and reflective gear
It is up to you to make sure that cars on the road can see you well. Stick with light colored clothing and add some reflective gear. I have a vest that works well because I can put it over any of my running clothes, plus it has a nice big pocket where I can put keys, gels, etc. Brooks Running also came out with their Run Visible collection recently which is amazing. They teamed up with 3M to study the best way to make these items so that drivers can see you. You will notice the reflective parts are mostly on the joint areas, which they have found works best.
Stay where there are other people
Try to avoid areas where you won’t see other runners, walkers, etc. If you run in a neighborhood there may be some other early morning dog walkers or even other runners. It’s comforting to know that there are other people around, some who you may even recognize from living near you or from seeing them most days while you are out running.
Bring your phone and Road ID
I think it’s always important to have these items, but it’s especially important when it’s dark out and you may need to get help for various reasons. I like to carry my phone in my Koala Clip, and I use my Road ID every day. These are simple things that can be so helpful when you need them!
Running in the dark takes a little more planning, but if you do it regularly all of these things just become part of your routine!
Do you run in the dark?
What other tips do you have for running in the dark?
Do you wear a headlamp when you run?
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs , and Laura Norris Running to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.