Most of us don’t have time in our busy schedules to fit in a run in the middle of the day, which means it’s usually squeezed in before or after work. The bad thing is when daylight hours are shorter you typically end up running in darker hours.
While the thought of going for a run in the dark may make you feel a bit uncomfortable, there are a few things you can do to help you stay safe out there. The next time you head out for a run, take extra precaution and follow these do’s and don’ts.
Do maximize visibility
When it’s dark outside, it’s far more difficult for drivers to spot you, so the last thing you want to do is wear dark clothing or something that will make you blend in with your surroundings. Instead, wear something white or bright, and that’s easy to spot, ideally with reflective panels or strips. If you don’t have these built into the clothing, then you can always opt for a reflective vest instead.
Don’t try out a new route
The worst time experiment with a new loop course is when it’s dark out. Not only are you more likely to feel a bit paranoid at every little noise due to the unfamiliar surroundings, but it’ll also make it more difficult to spot any potential hazards along the way.
That’s not to say you should stick to the same journey every night, as you don’t want the wrong person to notice a pattern. Mix things up by picking different routes and leaving at different times each day, but stick to routes you know well and are comfortable running at night.
You may even want to test out a few loop courses in your neighborhood while it’s still light out to ensure they’ll be safe to run at night. While you’re testing these out, keep an eye out for the following:
- Wide roads with plenty of space to run
- Street lamps to light your way
- Possible danger or obstacles, such as potholes
The more acquainted you are with your routes, the better. Not only will you feel safer and more relaxed on your run, but you also minimize any potential risks.
Do illuminate your way
The last thing you want to do is injure yourself because you couldn’t see where you were going. Stick to well-lit areas whenever possible to help reduce the risk of tripping and falling or making yourself an easy target. You should consider investing in a head torch or running lights to help you better see your surroundings.
You should also run against traffic, so you can spot cars heading your way more easily and move out of the way if necessary. Plus, if you’re wearing a headlamp you will make it far easier for drivers to spot you too.
Don’t listen to music
You may be used to listening to your favorite podcast or tunes while running to help keep you going and keep your pace, but you’ll want to ditch the headphones when it’s dark out. With limited lighting, you’ll need to rely on all your senses to spot potential dangers.
Do run with a friend
You know what they say, there’s safety in numbers, and this couldn’t be truer at this time of the year. If you can, run with a friend or consider joining a running group. Not only will you have someone else to help spot potential hazards, but they will also help keep you motivated.
Don’t neglect to tell someone where you’re going
In the unlikely event that something happens to you while you’re out running, you’ll want people to know where you’ve gone. Tell them when you’re heading out, what route you’ll be taking, and when you plan on being back. Don’t forget to let them know once you’re back to avoid them panicking if they haven’t heard from you at the expected time.
That being said, don’t post on social media before you head out for a run. While this may seem like the easier and more convenient option, it could end up making you a target. There is no point changing up your routes and running times if you just put all that information online.
Do use safety tools
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, even if the likelihood of something happening is small. Tools such as pepper spray or a personal alarm can scare away or stop an attacker, so take these with you for added safety. You should make sure you know how to use them first, so you can quickly react when the time comes.
You should also consider a self-defense course, so you’re in the best position should someone try to attack you. You want to be able to respond quickly and smartly should you ever find yourself in this situation,
Don’t leave your phone at home
Whenever you go out for a run, always take your phone with you. If something were to happen or you start to feel unsafe, you can use your phone to call for help. Most phones now come with an In Case of Emergency, or ICE, option, where you can leave important details such as emergency contact and medical information on your lock screen.
Your phone will also come in handy should you ever get lost and need the help of your GPS map. Plus your phone can also be used as another source of light should your headlamp run out of power.
You should also consider installing a couple of safety apps. SafeTrek is an app that has a safe button you can hold if you’re feeling scared. If you think the danger has passed, you can let go of the button and enter your pin. However, if you were to release without entering your pin, local police will be notified of your location.
Alternatively, you can install bSafe, which offers live GPS tracking so others can see where you are in real time via the map on your phone. You can even send out an alarm with your location or set a timer alarm so friends will be reminded to check in with you if it’s gone past the expected time of your return.
Besides your phone, you should also take your ID with you or carry something like RoadID on your wrist or ankle. This wearable form of ID allows you to include emergency contact information, as well as anything else that may be relevant such as your name, birthday, and medical information.
Do trust your instincts
Finally, you should always trust your instincts. Always pay attention to your surroundings and if you start to feel uncomfortable or like something isn’t right, then try heading to an area with better lighting or make your way home.
While some of these safety tips for running in the dark may seem a little extreme, it’s always best to be safe, especially when you’re dealing with poorer visibility. That being said, don’t let it stop you from doing what you love. As long as you take the proper precautions, you should still be able to enjoy your daily runs!