As the days get shorter, many of us have to run in the dark to be able to get our training miles done.  The treadmill is always an option but many runners groan at the thought of having to run on the treadmill for any length of time.  These 9 tips will help keep you safe as you head outdoors in the early morning or late evening darkness.

  • Wear bright or reflective clothing.  The brighter, the better.  It can be hard enough to see in the dark and with all of the distractions around, you just can’t be too careful in doing everything possible to make sure drivers see you.  Reflective tape is inexpensive and easy to use and reflective vests are easy to slip on as you head out the door.
  • Run on the left side of the road.  This rule applies during daylight as well but is especially important in the dark.  Because you can’t tell if a driver actually sees you or not, it’s better to be able to see oncoming traffic and be able to react to it.
  • Wear or carry lights with you.  A head lamp is easy to wear while running and emits a lot of light.  This enables oncoming cars to see you clearly and lights your way to see where you are going.  Smaller lights are also available that clip onto your clothing and can flash to alert others of your presence.
  • Skip the music.  I love listening to music when I run but it’s just not safe to listen in the dark.  Because your vision is more limited, you need your other senses to be more alert.  Hearing cars or people coming behind you allows you to react sooner.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.  Being aware of what is going on around you is key to keeping you safe while running in the dark.  There could be cars, people, obstacles on the road or even wild animals.  Always trust your instincts too – if you feel uneasy or unsafe, leave the area.
  • Run with a friend.  Running with a friend is just more enjoyable anyway and makes the miles fly by.  Each of you may notice different things but there is safety in numbers.  While it’s not always possible to run with someone, at least let someone know when you leave and when you return, and which route you will be taking.  It’s a good idea to carry a phone in this situation too, just in case you need help.  There are also apps available that will allow someone to see your actual location.
  • Vary your routes and times.  Many of us are creatures of habit when we leave the house for a run.  But switching up your schedule and the roads you run will prevent someone from becoming familiar with your training habits.
  • Choose a well-lit route.  A well-lit route allows you to see what’s around you better and gives others the opportunity to see you better.  While it’s not the same as running in daylight, you’ll definitely be safer if you can be better seen.
  • Carry identification and emergency contact information with you.  This may not seem important if you are just going out for a short run but you may need help for some reason and if you are unable to talk, you may not be able to give life-saving information.  If you don’t want to carry around your drivers license, there are other ways to carry this information with you, such as shoe tags or bracelets.

Do you run in the dark?  How do you stay safe?

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