How to keep yourself safe when running in the dark.

Man and woman running at night - wearing hi-vis clothingAs the nights draw in and the days get shorter, the likelihood is that you'll find yourself doing much of your running in the dark.

This throws up a few problems that you might not find during the summer months. Firstly, it's dark so it's harder to see where you are going! The second issue (although this applies all year around) is that running alone in the dark can make some people a bit apprehensive. Some runners will avoid it all together. There is no need for this extreme reaction however.

Below are a few tips that you can do to help keep yourself safe on the run. The information below is adapted from the Kinetic-Revolution website, a great resource for runners.

Dress for the dark

It's important that you can be easily seen by other road users when you are out running at night. A good high-visibility vest or jacket is a must. It isn't a shield of steel though, you do still need to look where you are going, especially when crossing roads!

A headtorch to see where you are going is also a great idea. In addition, on rough ground or trail, its advisable to take a small handtorch to spot the tree roots and bumps in the road.

Winter running always seems a bit less appealing, especially when it’s cold and wet, but remember to dress for the middle of the run. Over dressing can be as uncomfortable as getting too cold, so take into account the extra high-visibility layer before putting the extra jumper on.

Plan your route

If you live near a town, you can usually find a route that is 100% lit with street lights. Consider starting from where you work or a local gym. Keep in mind any road crossings or subways and avoid them if you can. When running at night, if you need to pass a busy path, be sure people headed your way - whether in a car or on foot - can see you.

Share your route

Let someone know your route before you go. If you can estimate, let them know about how long you expect it to take. If it’s been hours, they’ll know where you’ve been and can look for you or call for help. An unexpected injury or strain can mean a long walk back, so it’s a good idea to carry a mobile phone and spare change.

Vary your route 

Try to change the time of your run, the direction and vary the route slightly. Don’t make your run predictable to others, especially if running at night alone.

Posture

Running at night with a headtorch, especially on dark roads, can improve your posture. Tilting the light downwards means you have to run with your head up. Be aware of where you are looking and avoid looking at your feet.

Pacing in the dark

Running in the dark takes a bit more care, so expect the run to be a little slower than a daylight run. By all means, run to pace if you have a well-lit route, but take account of the difference - especially when off road.