Don’t Fall Behind When You “Fall Back”! Attack the Night with these Six Tips for Running in the Dark

6 Tips for Running in the Dark

Daylight savings ends tomorrow, November 5. As we prepare to “fall back,” keep in mind that the earlier sunset and chillier weather will have an impact on your winter exercise routine.

In low-light conditions, running can be a tad bit more dangerous than usual. Hazards along the road or trail could lead to missteps and possible injury. You’re not afraid of the dark, are you? Well, never fear! We’ve compiled a list of the top 6 safety tips for confronting those bumps in the night.

1. Chase the sunset.

Okay, so our first tip for running in the dark is… don’t! If you can work it into your schedule, just change the time of your run.

Take it from longtime runner Marie, 35: “There’s nothing like being outdoors just as the sun sinks below the horizon. It’s the perfect time for running. The temperature starts to cool down, and the orangey-pink sky looks amazing.”

To catch that beautiful view, you can look up when the sun is scheduled to set in your area at timeanddate.com.

2. Take your time.

Ambient darkness can cloud your field of vision. Misjudge one outgrowing root or jagged sidewalk, and you’re toast. When faced with low visibility, slow your pace to leave time to react to a hazard.

You can also try a technique called “march running.” This is a combination of marching and running, in which you raise your knees up high, keeping your feet parallel to the ground, and set them down right underneath your body. You won’t go far, but you’ll be working different muscles, and avoiding treacherous rocks, stumps, and hidden booby traps.

Kidding. Of course there are no hidden booby traps…

3. Weigh your options.

So, you’ve got two choices for running at night – trails, and roads. Which is safer in the dark?
Both options have their pros and cons. Roads are generally better lit, so you’ll have greater visibility. They’re also usually paved and free from debris and wildlife.

On the other hand, road traffic can be dangerous. Always wear light-colored clothing and invest in visibility gear to warn cars of your presence. Pick up a reflective vest at your local sports gear supplier, or try the new Safety Skin, a glow-in-the-dark product that rolls on like deodorant. It’s cost-effective and you can apply it directly to your skin.

Trails are darker, and may have more bumps, holes, puddles, hills, and – let’s face it – animal droppings to navigate. Plus they can be a little spookier! (Blair Witch Project flashbacks, anyone?). You can brave the trails with the right equipment, which brings us to…

4. Use headlamps, and more headlamps!

All these stumbling blocks can be thwarted with the good use of a strong headlamp. You need to be able to see the path right at your feet, to about 15 feet out in front. Try the Petzl Reactik+ or the LED Lenser SEO 7R, with adjustable brightness that can give you just enough light while conserving battery power.

Some runners, like Phillip, 41, wear two headlamps – one on the head, and one around the waist – for better depth perception. Wacky-looking, for sure, but guess who’s enjoying those eerie late night forest vibes?

5. Layer your layers.

As soon as the sun goes down, the temperature starts to drop, and if you live in a dry area, it can drop fast. Anticipate the cold and dress for the occasion. Keeping warm takes less of your energy than trying to warm up after getting cold.

6. Recruit your running partner.

There’s truth to the adage “safety in numbers”! A friend can be there for you if you happen to get hurt, and the presence of a second person is likely to ward off anyone with nefarious intentions. It’s also just more fun to run with a buddy, and it helps to pass the time.

Running at night can be a little disconcerting, but with these tips in mind, you’ll soon be howling at the moon with renewed confidence. Embrace the new adventure, and have fun!

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