Friday, March 23, 2018

Running in the Dark


How do you feel about being out and about in the early morning (or late night) hours? 

It's no secret that I do a lot of my running in the dark, often times before the sunrise. I'm not exactly certain when this routine began, but it has morphed into a pretty satisfying way of life.

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. 

Here are my top five tips for running in the dark. While these tips are not all-inclusive, they have worked for me in my setting.


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.


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 this with Meranda and Lacey and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0.  

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***DISCLAIMER***
Many of these thoughts, words, and images first appeared on a previously published post, Running in the (wee) Dark Hours (October 13, 2016).

33 comments:

  1. When I first got into running, I used to do before sunrise runs in the summer. But now I like my quiet mornings so I don't do that anymore.

    Interesting tip on watching the sidewalk!

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    1. I really like the peace and tranquility of the early morning....especially in the summer when all the birds come to life ;-)

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  2. I don't really run too much in the dark, I'm kind of scared to run in the dark to be honest. In the odd occurrence that I do run in the dark, I use blinking lights and the reflective vest.

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    1. If I lived in a bigger town, I'd be a little more fearful, no doubt. I just try to be smart about it...I'm not running too far from my house when I'm alone, and I make sure to always be aware of my surroundings.

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  3. I run in the dark! It's not my favorite, but when you gotta run, you gotta run!!

    As a driver, I try to be conscious of runners who wear dark colors and no reflective wear... I have almost run over a couple of people running on the opposite side of the street, and people in bikes wearing black. I would rather look like a Christmas tree, than not seen.

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    1. Seriously...why do bikers wear black??? At least most of them have blinking lights on their bikes LOL

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  4. Ya know, it's been so long since I've run in the dark that I'm really afraid of it now. I was looking at old pics (just two years ago!) and I was running in the dark all the time and thought nothing of it. I'm a 'fraidy cat in my old age.

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    1. Well, I'm older than you, Dear Rachel...what you trying to say? That I'm showing signs of senility? LOL ;-)

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  5. Great tips! Running in the dark, especially in the morning, can be scary in a quiet neighborhood! I do pretty much everything you listed!

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    1. It's really all about common sense, and your comfort zone. I agree...as much as I appreciate the quietness of the morning, it can be a little freaky if it's too quiet.

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  6. NO! I do not run in the dark unless it's in the evening and I can not make it back to my starting point in time...haha. But even during the day I worry about safety. I usually carry a pepper spray or one of those alarms because I run on trails and through the woods.

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    1. Now, if I was on trails, I'd be doing that in the daylight LOL I'd be more freaked out by animals than creepy people LOL

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  7. Great tips! I usually stay in my neighborhood when I run in the dark and I can run in the middle of the road. Its nice to not have to worry about bumps in the sidewalk or slopes on the road, and there are very few cars out and about that early.

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    1. When Barb and I do our 5:00 runs, we seldom ever see any traffic, especially in the winter. And, yes, the road is OUR's ;-)

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  8. I used to run in the dark a lot more often than I do now! I have a headlamp that got a lot of use; now I have those knuckle lights as well! Great tips.

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    1. Aren't the Knuckle Lights awesome? I just got some new ones yesterday and LOVE them.

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  9. I am a run in the dark person. Love all your tips. I'm all about extra lights (front of head, back of head) and I have night runner lights for my sneakers too!

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    1. I don't mind the darkness. Granted, I'd rather be out in the heat of day in full-on sunshine, but the early morning (and, on occasion, late evenings) are nice!

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  10. Great tips! I haven't really tried running in the dark yet since it's still kinda snowy/icy out there, but I'm hoping to when the weather gets a little better!

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    1. Oh yes...ice is a bit dangerous in the dark LOL

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  11. We have a group of about 8 women that do the early bird run at 5 and they do use all the safety equipment out there. Of course, I am all about safety in numbers!

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    1. Glad to hear there are more "crazy early morning runners" getting it done in the dark ;-) We all gotta stick together, literally!

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  12. Night time is for sleeping, Kimberly! Lol. These are great tips. So glad the days are "longer" now that we are done with Daylight Saving Time.

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    1. I agree...even with the time change, I can tell the daylight is coming sooner and sooner!

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  13. Yes I'm an in the dark runner! During the school year, at least. :) You offer mainly all of the tips. I have to totally agree that the sidewalk is NOT safer. Just the other day I hopped up on the sidewalk to give a car some space and I nearly tripped!

    I run at 6am, so I generally feel pretty safe in my neighborhood. Even though it is dark, I do see lights on in houses, there is the occasional dog walker, there is a church nearby where kids are being dropped off for day care, and there are people leaving for work. I guess I am making it sound like a busy little hood with people everywhere- it's not, but I do encounter people so I feel like if someone wanted to do me harm, they prob wouldn't have the balls as there are people here and there. I stick to the streets with lots of houses.

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    1. Ha ha...it's wise to be in a safe place with other people nearby ;-)

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  14. I have never run in the dark (well except for this one time we lost power so I hoocked my treadmill up to the generator and ran in the basement in the dark) these are great tips though!

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    1. I tried running on my treadmill recently in the very late afternoon, so it was almost dark in the room when I finished. Not as tranquil as running outside, just saying ;-)

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  15. These are all such great tips! I used to use a headlamp when I ran in the dark, but now due to my schedule I typically get my runs in during daylight hours!

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    1. I have never used a headlamp. I get headaches from my bike helmet...I fear that would happen from a headlamp as well (I must have a weird pressure point somewhere along the helmet edge on my forehead).

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  16. I need you to come lecture all my neighbors and show them the ropes! I see SO many of them out in the night in all dark clothing. I have almost hit a few also who were walking in the middle of the street!!

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  17. I usually try to avoid running in the dark, but its difficult to do at the height of winter when the sun sets as early as it does. Regardless of whether its light or dark out, safety always needs to be the #1 priority.

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  18. Great tips! I haven't run in the dark for so long.

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