Thursday, October 13, 2016

Running in the (wee) Dark Hours


With the quickly diminishing daylight, most of my runs are happening in the dark, pre-sunrise hours.

It's crazy how fast the shorter days/longer nights crept up on me. It wasn't that long ago (it seems like a couple weeks ago, but it's been a bit longer) when I was leaving the house in the dark and returning with a beautiful sunrise behind me. Those beautiful sunrises are now happening 90 minutes later, as I leave for work, which means I'm spending more time in the dark (than in the daylight hours) logging my miles.

That's not all bad.

I live in a somewhat small Iowa town (population is just over 10,000). Although I'm comfortable running in the dark, there are numerous things I do to ensure I'm safe. I respect that everyone has their own level of comfort when it comes to personal safety, and not everyone lives in an area as conducive to being outside in the dark as I do.

While these tips are not all-inclusive, they are working for me as I continue with my training for the Route 66 Marathon:

1- Be seen. High-viz colored clothing (white, yellow, lime green, etc.) are ideal. Some clothing has reflector strips, and most running shoes have them as well.



There's a plethora of accessories available to use as well... Knuckle Lights, ViziBelt, clip-on head lamps, etc.
Knuckle Lights in my hand, ViziBelt on my waist

2- Watch where you're going. Sidewalks may seem safer than the road, but there are a lot more cracks, bumps, and debris to encounter. If you run on the street, it's safest to run on the left side of the road (facing the on-coming traffic). That said, depending on the time of morning (or night), running in the middle of the street might be something to consider...the surface will be smoother (from the wear and tear of vehicles) and should be relatively flat (no side sloping, as you may encounter on the shoulder).

3- Run a familiar route. I have several routes of varying distances, but I try to stay fairly close to home when it's dark outside. Also, I try to utilize well-lit streets. I live a few blocks from our college's main campus...and there are street lights almost every 20 feet. The central campus sits on a span of several blocks, and it's an approximate mile in distance around the circumference...often times, I just do several laps around this area.


4- Mix up your routine (once in awhile). Although I have my familiar routes, I seldom ever run them in the same sequence. I run the route(s) clockwise one day, and counter-clockwise the next time. Sometimes, I run the big loop in a figure-8 pattern. I also try to head out at different times. I doubt there's anyone casing my route, but (on the off-chance there is) varying my routine will keep them guessing.

5- If you can, do bring a friend! Occasionally, I can persuade my friend, Barb, to join me. Trust me, the two of us are quite a sight with our blinking lights and belts in the wee dark hours!


Other things to consider:
***Have a phone with you (for emergencies)
***If you listen to music (like I do), have the volume low, so you're able to hear your surroundings
***A subtle way to "be aware" without looking scared is to watch the road for shadows. Ironically, the more street lights, the more shadows you will see (in every direction)
***If running in the dark is just not your gig, then stay inside. It's not worth the anxiety.



Are you a run-in-the-dark runner? Any favorite tips you'd like to share?

I'm linking up with the DC gals (Mar and Courtney and Cynthia), for their grand finale on their awesome Friday Five link-up. Please head over and check out their blogs, as well as all the other linked blogs.




35 comments:

  1. I admire you ! Not only am I scared to run in the dark, but I have a problem with depth perception in the dark. Just not worth it.

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    1. The dark is certainly not for everyone...especially if you have depth perception. That would be another layer of trepidation.

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  2. I'll run in the dark when I have to--but I always run in the road because the sidewalks around here are like land mines.

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    1. I don't trust the sidewalks, especially this time of year when they're covered with leaves. Even with a flashlight, you never really know what's there LOL

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  3. There are no sidewalks where I live. Luckily I rarely have to run in the dark, but there's almost always someone else out there running or walking their dog if I do.

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    1. I am always amazed at the number of other runners (and dog walkers) I see at these early hours! We're all crazy!

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  4. Excellent tips and thank you for linking up with us this final time!

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  5. All great tips. I try my best to avoid running in the dark, but sometimes your schedule doesn't allow for any other choice.

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    1. Exactly. I'd rather run in the dark and get it done than spend the entire day wondering if I'll have a chance to do it or not (or if I'll even feel like it).

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  6. Kudos to you for getting those runs in so early.
    What is your opinion when running on a one way street? I've always ran on the sidewalk going with traffic. Do you think that matters? Should I be facing traffic? -M

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    1. I would treat a one-way street like any other street...run against the traffic(if you're on the actual street). If you're on the sidewalk, though, I don't think that matters.

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  7. I've been struggling getting up in the morning now that it's dark out, even though I do love running and watching the sunrise. Instead, I've been fitting in my runs after work to the sunset, but I need to get back to my morning runs!

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    1. I love my early morning summer runs, and this is the longest (in the fall) I have ever kept it up. Most mornings now, though, it's still dark when I return home ;-(

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  8. I always run in the dark with my knuckle lights - but i use to have a bright flashlight I liked. I love how quiet it is and I can see car lights coming so it is easy to move out of the way. I know where most cracks and dips in the road are now LOL

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    1. I agree...the car lights leave little to the imagination. I also enjoy the peace and calm of that time of day.

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  9. Never go out without my Knucke Lights - and I have added some colored light gadgets too - on my shoes and on my jacket front. Good tips!

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    1. I love my Knuckle Lights, too! They are so bright, I usually only take one of them. They're great for walking the dog ;-)

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  10. I used those knuckle lights at Ragnar and I felt much more secure running in the middle of the night. Other than that, I really try to avoid it! :)

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    1. The Knuckle Lights are slick! Running in the dark is definitely not for everyone (and not everyone has an ideal place to do it).

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  11. I totally agree with all of these. Sidewalks are nice but I ran on sidewalks this morning (in daylight) and there were SO many cracks and uneven spots! Also, I totally utilize the shadow game! I'm glad I'm not the only one. Sometimes I run without a headlamp just so I can see better overall. Plus then someone can't really stalk me if they can't see me... just sayin...

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    1. I have often wondered about not being seen...it would have its advantages depending on the area. #greatminds

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  12. I almost always run in the dark of early morning. For one thing, in Florida, it's so much cooler than waiting until after the sun comes up. For another, I have to get everything done in order to get little man ready for school (although Mr PugRunner is an amazing help if I am running behind).

    I do tend to stay closer to home, especially when I am running at 4 and 5AM, and then will venture further as the hour gets later. I am a complete scaredy cat, and even with my RunLites, I jump at the slightest shadow. I'm a big ol' sissy.

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    1. I also venture farther as the light increases...lately, though, I'm out there so early it's still dark when I finish LOL

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  13. Great tips. I stick to light colored tops and a reflective belt. Another thing is to assume cars do not see you. Better safe than sorry!

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    1. I didn't think to mention that, but you are correct...never assume anyone (or any car driver) sees you. I don't trust a lot of drivers in the daylight either.

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  14. I am with you- out at dark thirty! I always have my flashers on and try to wear a lighter colored top. The rest is up to me to watch my neighborhood- I know their patterns now :)

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  15. I do run in the dark a lot, mostly I am lucky enough to have friends with me so that makes me feel a little safer! Great tips!

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    1. I really like the dark, but not for every run. I wish I had early morning daylight year-round ;-)

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  16. These are all great tips! I don't run in the dark very often, but when I do I am always extra careful!

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  17. Great tips! I do some early a.m. running. When a street light went out, I called the light company. It felt great to see that they fixed it soon afterwards. Plus, I felt safer!

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    1. That's great they responded so quickly! It's reassuring to know your call meant something!!

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  18. So important to stay safe while running at night! These are all really great tips!

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