How To Safely And Successfully Run At Night
One of running’s best features is that we runners can do it almost anywhere at almost any time. It doesn’t matter if you live in a city gridlocked with traffic or have endless mountain ranges at your disposal; if you have the will and interest to run, as well as somewhere to go, you’re all set. Similarly, since running doesn’t necessarily require a gym membership, we runners have the freedom to run at virtually any time of the day or night – whatever fits our schedules best – flexibility that many people who participate in other sports do not have.
If you’re going to be running at night, however, it’s imperative that you take extra measures and precautions to ensure your safety. Just like our mothers taught us, just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it, after all. The guidelines below suggest some ways that we runners can ensure that we’re taking our safety into our own hands when we’re running at night.
Plan a route in advance, and tell someone. Realistically, it’s always good to share your planned route and how long you expect to be gone with someone you trust, in the event that you don’t come home on time, but this is especially true if you’re running during nighttime. Ideally, run in an area that you’re already familiar with (perhaps from having run it during the daytime) so you’ll already know its relative safety before experiencing it at night. Consider running only in heavily-trafficked areas – places where other runners or pedestrians are present, if not also bikes or vehicular traffic – so you won’t ever be alone. Likewise, think about running somewhere that is well-lit.
Be as lit-up as a Christmas tree. As a runner, it’ll be far easier for you to see moving traffic and people than it will be for them to see you. Purchasing a headlamp, reflective vest, and other safety accouterments like knuckle lights will help ensure that other pedestrians and drivers can see you from far away. Be sure that you adorn yourself with lights that blink, as dorky as it sounds, because you will be far more visible to others than if your light doesn’t blink.
Don’t dress like a ninja. Closely related to the above advice about being as lit-up as a Christmas tree, do not be a
ninja runner: a runner who wears only black. While it is surely flattering and slimming, it also makes you incredibly difficult to see! In addition to wearing the above-mentioned accouterments, consider also buying apparel that has reflective elements built-in so that drivers will be able to spot you from far away. Save your all-black attire for daytime, when people can actually see you wearing it, and when your safety isn’t at stake.
Bring ID or wear identification. Anytime you’re out for a run, but especially when you’re out at night, consider wearing or bringing your ID so that in case of an emergency, medical personnel know who you are. Many companies, such as RoadID, offer runners identification bracelets or shoe tags, in case you don’t want to physically carry your ID with you, and some identification tags even offer runners the option of linking to an online system that lets you list your emergency contacts, allergies, and medical conditions. It’s a small price to pay when your safety could be on the line some day.
Don’t listen to music, or if you do, leave one earphone removed. The name of the game when you run during nighttime hours is to ensure that all your senses are as sharp as possible, and needless to say, when you’re running with earbuds in your ears, you’re removing one of your key senses – and one that could save your life. If you insist on running while listening to music or podcasts during the night, at least remove one earbud, and/or keep the volume on low, so that you can hear other pedestrians and vehicles.
Consider animals’ behavior at night. If you’re running trails during dark hours, be sure that you’re knowledgeable about which animals you might encounter during the night and how they behave. Some animals may be more aggressive at night, so be sure to do your research before hitting the trails for a nighttime jog.
Bring a buddy – animal or otherwise. You can find relative safety in numbers, so if at all possible, consider enlisting a buddy – a friend or your dog – to run with you if you’re running at night. The same guidelines apply here when you’re running in a pack, too: be sure that everyone is dressed appropriately, be sure that you tell someone your intended path and time away, and be sure to leave the headphones at home. Even if you’re running with someone else, you still might want to consider bringing a phone with you in case an emergency arises.
It’s not impossible to successfully and safely run during the nighttime hours, but just like anything else with running, a little planning can go a long way. Safety is the most important concern that you have to take during the nighttime, simply because it’s harder to see runners jogging along when it’s dark out, but with some smart apparel and route choices, you may find that nighttime running is even more relaxing and enjoyable than daytime running.