Whether you squeeze in your run in the morning or evening when the sun isn’t up or simply like running in the dark when it’s cooler, running at night (or before the sun rises) requires special equipment and heightened awareness to ensure your experience is safe.
These must-follow guidelines will help you stay safe while allowing you to run in the dark.
Know Your Running Route
If you’re running in the dark, stick to a route that’s well lit, populated and that you know well. This way you’ll be able to see your surroundings and recognize if something seems out of place. Have a few “approved” routes so you can switch things up to keep unwanted watchers from learning your routine.
When exploring new potential paths check them out first during the day, then drive them again after dark to see what the area is like at night. If you have friends or acquaintances who run, you can also ask them for recommendations of new routes to try or certain areas they suggest avoiding.
Run with a Partner
There’s power in numbers, so if you have a friend who also enjoys running at night ask if they’d like to go together. You can also look for running groups in your area.
Running with others offers two levels of safety:
- You’re less likely to draw unwanted attention and you’ll be a much more difficult target
- If something does go wrong, even something as simple as tweaking your ankle, someone will be there to help you.
Carry the Essentials
You need to carry a lot of things when you go running outside in general – keys, ID, phone, etc. But when you’re running at night you need to take extra precautions. In addition to your regular haul, it’s important to keep an insurance card and cash on you, just in case.
If you’re worried about safety while running at night, carry pepper spray or a whistle with you as well. The right running belt will let you easily and comfortably carry everything you’ll need while keeping your hands free.
Skip the Music
The No. 1 rule of safe running at night is to be alert. You need to pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of any approaching vehicles in case they don’t see you. Having headphones in and music blaring will make it harder for you to listen to your surroundings.
If you absolutely need music while you run, try running with only one earbud in and keep the music at a reasonable volume so you can still hear nearby movements.
If you’re running on a route that has traffic, or even need to cross a road during your run, you’ll want to be sure you’re visible to approaching vehicles. Make sure you wear reflective clothes and a reflective running safety belt so you stand out in headlights.
Also be sure to wear a running light so you can see your way and oncoming cars see you. A strobing running light helps set you apart as in-motion and not another vehicle for extra safety. Wear a front-facing and back-facing light so you’re visible from both directions.
Set Up Your Cell
If you are involved in an incident or accident, you may be unable to identify yourself or share crucial information, like emergency contact information, what medications you’re on and your blood type. There are several mobile apps available for all types of phones that allow you to share ICE (in case of emergency) information on the lock screen of your phone. Newer operating systems are also starting to natively introduce these “medical ID” features. Take the time to download and set up one of these apps so your important information is always easily available.