A blog by runners. For runners.

Running safety: see (and be seen) when running in the dark

Safety tips for running in the darkIt’s official: the light-filled days of summer have ended. Morning runners have likely noticed the sun doesn’t come up quite as early. Before too long, evening runners will be in the darkness, too.

Running in the dark presents several challenges – the main one being you can’t see in front of you. If you’ve ever run on a low-lit route, you know what a hardship it can be. Uneven sidewalks, stray branches, steep drop-offs, animals, and even other runners can pop-up out of nowhere and startle you. If you’re not careful, you could get seriously hurt.

Follow these tips so to see better in the dark

Wear or carry a light
Leaving home in bright, illuminated safety gear is a must if you’ll be running in the dark. But while many of these products do an excellent job of making us visible to others, they don’t light up the area in front of us so we ourselves can see. That’s why it’s also important to wear a head lamp or carry a flashlight on your runs. You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy some fancy piece of equipment – if you have an iPhone and don’t mind running with it in your hand, just use its built-in flashlight feature.

Look up, look down, look all around
Sometimes, it’s great to get in the zone and just run. However, save those workouts for daylight hours. When running in the dark, you really have to be aware of your surroundings. Keep shifting your gaze from ahead to down to side-to-side so you spot obstacles. On the same note, don’t run with music when it’s dark. You want to minimize distractions so that you can stay alert.

Follow a route you know well
If you run the same loop you’ve been running for years, there will be fewer surprises. You already know where every uneven part of the sidewalk and pothole is, so you know to be extra careful in those areas. If possible, choose a route that’s lit well with street lamps. However, be mindful not run the same route every day. Switch it up so that potential attackers don’t learn your patterns.

Run with a buddy
Not only is there more safety in numbers, but having an extra set of eyes to look out for obstacles comes in handy. You may naturally look ahead when you run, and your running buddy may do a better job of looking down. Together, you’ll make the perfect pair for running in the darkness.

Assume no one can see you
Ok, this tip won’t help you see better, but it’s so important that we had to mention it. Assume no one can see you. Don’t speed up in an effort to beat a car across an intersection. Wait for all traffic to pass before you cross a street. If possible, try to make eye contact with drivers before you make any moves. And, even though it’s best to vary your running surfaces, stick to the sidewalk during nighttime runs instead of running in the street. It could save your life.

Written by Jen Matz.