Fall has just barely started and already there are less daylight hours. We haven’t even turned the clocks back yet, either! It won’t be long when it will be dark both in the morning and early in the evening so there will be no escaping running in the dark unless you’re lucky enough to be able to run in the middle of the day.
With today’s technology there are many things you can do to stay safe on the road when it’s dark. Here are some of my top tips and specific products for running safely in the dark.
- Wear reflective gear and lights. There are at least dozens of different kinds of lights alone that you can wear. Some of my favorites include NoxGear and this vest I got from Amazon:
Although I don’t own any myself, I’ve been told Oiselle has some super-reflective running gear. It’s best to place lights and reflective gear on both your front and back and focus on your head, arms, and ankles since these areas move the most when you’re running and are more likely to alert drivers. Blinking lights are also great for helping get the attention of drivers who may be drowsy if it’s early in the morning or if they’re distracted by their phone. Don’t forget to wear a light that not only lights your body up but also one that illuminates your path so you can see where you’re running.
2. Let others know where you’ll be running if you can’t run with someone else. There are many good apps for letting a family member or close friend track you by GPS when you’re running. Strava recently made Beacon, their version of this free; it was previously only available for those on the premium plan. Some Garmin watches also have this feature that allows others to follow your running route in real time. You can also always just go old-school and tell someone where and when you’ll be running and what time you expect to be home.
3. Choose your route wisely. If there are no street lamps where you run it will be considerably darker, even with car lights going by. The safest place to run is on the sidewalk but if you have to run in the road make sure you’re running facing traffic, never with your back to oncoming cars. I cringe every time I see someone running or walking in the road with their back to oncoming cars.
4. Be aware of your surroundings. If your wear headphones that go over or in your ear, leave one ear open so you can still hear around you. I love AfterShokz, which are bone-conducting headphones, which means I can hear both my music or podcast and my surroundings at the same time. They were truly life-changing for me as a female runner who is hyper-alert to my surroundings but still likes to listen to podcasts and music when I’m running.
Also, don’t assume a driver sees you, especially if they’re making a right-hand turn. I’ve seen so many drivers not even turn to look my way on their left when they were making this turn. It’s scary to think about how many people have been hit by drivers this way. I always assume the other person doesn’t see me and will go out of my way to avoid getting in their direct path.
5. Be prepared to protect yourself if necessary. This tip isn’t just for running in the dark but any time. There are multiple ways to protect yourself in the event someone approaches you and you need a form of self defense. Pepper spray is readily available at many running and outdoor supply stores, as are small alarm devices. You can also look up self defense classes in your area. It’s always a good idea to learn some prevention techniques, how to spot dangers, and gain self confidence.
That’s about all I have on safety tips. What about you- do you have a tip I missed?