This post was originally part of Episode 331 released in November of 2016 and is more or less copy and pasted from that post. The audio, however, is a new take on the topic.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re probably aware that the amount of daylight hours is rapidly eroding as we approach the winter solstice.
If you’re a runner, and I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this, that means there is a very good chance you’ll be running in the dark in the coming weeks and months.
For some of us, running in the dark is pretty much business as usual.
I do the majority of my running before the sun comes up year-round, so if you’re new to running or don’t log many pre-dawn/post-dusk miles, here are some things I’d encourage you to keep in mind when you find yourself running in the dark this winter.
Safety Tips for Running in the Dark
Bring Your Own Light
I fought the idea of carrying a light with me for years.
It’s rare that I find myself running somewhere that doesn’t have ample street lights, so it never seemed necessary for me to carry a flashlight or don a headlamp for my runs.
Every once in a while, I’ll find myself running down a street that is pretty dark, but it’s usually only for a block or two at most so I just “made due”.
Since I got my Knuckle Lights a little over a month ago, I’ve completely changed my tune about carrying a light while running in the dark.
Not only does having a light come in handy when you’re in an area with no lights, but having a light also helps you see things hazards that aren’t clear from a distant street light, such as small cracks in the sidewalk/pavement.
The safety benefits of having a light with you cannot be overstated.
Just running through the neighborhood in the morning with the dog has become safer since I started carrying a light.
There have been a few times in the last month where the light alerts drivers backing out of their driveways that I’m approaching, and you and I both know that a car/runner collision never ends well for the runner.
Stick to Familiar Routes
This is a tough one for me to follow since I love to explore while I’m running, but it’s important to keep in mind.
When running in the dark, stick to places you know well and feel safe in.
The last thing you want to do when running in the dark is wind up in a sketchy part of town.
Odds are that you’ll be fine, but why take a chance?
Safety In Numbers
When you’re running in the dark try to recruit a couple of running buddies to join you.
How does running with other help make you safer?
Well, cars are more likely to notice half a dozen runners on the side of the road than just one. And if they notice you, most drivers are willing to give you some space.
And if, heaven forbid, there is a person looking for someone to assault they aren’t likely to take on a pack of runners.
Run with One Ear In
Another safety tip I’ve come around on recently, and this one applies whether you’re running in the dark or the daylight, is to run with one ear in and one ear out if you’re listening to music or a podcast.
To address the logistical question right up front: isn’t it annoying having the other earbud flapping around when you’re running?
However, there is a simple solution. I now wear a buff when I run, and I just put the earbud I’m not using “inside” of the buff so it doesn’t flap around at all.
Now I’m able to listen to some of my favorite podcasts while also being able to hear if a car is approaching.
I used to think I’d know when cars approach me from behind when running in the dark because they’d have their headlights on. But there have been several times I had no clue a car was behind me.
And that’s not a fun place to find yourself, believe me.
This should be somewhat standard no matter when or where you are running. Letting someone know where you’re running and about what time you plan to be back is a good idea.
Another good idea is to get a Road ID.
If something does happen to you during a run, a Road ID is vital to communicate important information with EMS as they arrive on the scene.
The Biggest Thing You Can Do to Be Safe: Think
No matter what time of day or night you are running, the most important thing you can do is think.
More often than not, accidents happen because of poor decision-making.
You’ve got a brain, use it!
Sadly, there is no way to make running 100% safe, whether it’s dark or not.
By make smart choices before, during, and after your run, there’s a good chance you’ll have an incident free run.
And those, my friends, are the best kind of runs.
What are Your Go to Safety Tips for Running in the Dark?
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