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10 ways to stay safe on early morning runs

running at night“The early bird gets the worm.”

I’ve always subscribed to this theory. I love running in the morning because I have fewer excuses at 6 a.m that will cause me to skip my run. But there is one big reason that used to stop me from running first thing in the morning: it’s dark.

Running in the dark is scary, but with a few safety checks in place I feel much safer out there on the road. Here are some things to keep in mind when running before the sun comes up:

  1. Be visible. Wear bright, reflective clothes (neon colors and white are easiest to see in the dark), light bands or clips, and anything else that will enhance your visibility. Go overboard – wear several blinking lights if you have them – because it’s difficult for drivers to see a runner in the dark. Ensure you’re visible from the front and the back.
  2. Make sure you can see, too. It’s best to stick to well-lit routes so you can see your surroundings. But even the most populated areas will have dark spots. Carry a flashlight or invest in a headlamp or knuckle lights so you can see the road in front of you.
  3. Stick to the sidewalk. You’ll be much less likely to get hit by a car this way. If there are no sidewalks in your area, always run against traffic so you can move out of the way if you see a car coming.
  4. Vary your route. Don’t run the same route at the same pace at the same time every day. Being predictable makes it easier for a predator. 
  5. Don’t share your running plans on social media. Resist the urge to post “about to head out for a run” on any social media sites. And don’t post a screenshot of the map of your route afterwards either. You don’t want the wrong person to see that information.
  6. Keep your pace slow. Don’t trip up. If you’re new to running in the dark or there’s a lot of branches, trees, or other debris in your path, it’s a good idea to keep your pace slower than normal. 
  7. Carry your phone. If you get into trouble, you’ll be able to phone for help. If you have an iPhone, download the “Find my iPhone” app and share your log in information with a loved one. If I’m not back from a run in time, my husband can log into the app on his phone with my credentials and find out exactly where I am.
  8. Run with a buddy. There is safety in numbers, so invite a friend to run with you or join a local running group that trains in the early morning. If you must run alone, say hi to every runner you pass. Other runners will be more likely to remember you if you communicate in case something should happen.
  9. Don’t run with music. Music is a distraction and reduces your awareness of your surroundings.
  10. Trust your instincts. If a street looks too dark, don’t run down it. If a person walking towards you gives you the heebie jeebies, turn around. If you have a feeling like someone is following you, call the police. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so trust your gut.

Experienced morning runners, what safety tips do you have to add?

Written by Jen Matz.

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