Since running in the dark is a year round scenario I decided to do a mini separate post to the Winter Running Tips because although a lot of your winter running will be at nighttime, these tips apply year round
Take a running partner – If you don’t feel safe going out in the dark on your, take a friend with you so that you can watch out for each other and have some company! Also it will give you something to do other than listen to music (see below) as well as making you more likely to be seen.
Choose well lit routes – I nearly didn’t put this on there because it goes without saying but making sure you run in an area that has its own lighting is not only safer but makes running easier as it is one less thing to focus on!
Join a Running club – They may have access to floodlit tracks during the winter and you will probably gain running partners. Also clubs will know the best routes for running in your area and at the very least will keep you from stumbling around.
Make yourself seen! – Whether it be torches, reflective gear or headlamps make sure you can be seen, don’t be another statistic, do all you can to make sure you are safe in the dark. For ideas on how checkout the Winter Running Kit Essentials
Loops- Nighttime is the worse time to get stuck away from home. It is better to do shorter loops of a familiar route than do a “there and back again” type run. If you have a track or a park nearby you can try doing laps of that until you are used to it.
*TIP: If you decide to go far away from your house then take emergency money and identification in case you get caught out!*
Try out new routes – Not only could you get lost and find it a lot harder to get back, you don’t know how the road surface might change (could there be pot holes?, does the curb run out? is there less street lighting?) and this could lead to getting injured and stranded where you are unfamiliar. Save new routes for the daytime.
Get hung up on your speed –You are a lot more cautious and naturally run slower because your vision is impaired and so it takes you longer to adjust to your surroundings. If you are running slower than you imagined don’t worry. Instead aim to do easy or recovery runs at nighttime so you don’t have to worry about doing personal bests.
Have a routine – It is beneficial to have variety in a training program, so doing different routes at different times is a great way to do this. Also I hate to say it, but doing the same route at the same time has it’s safety risks, so it is best to mix it up to avoid anyone who might have “taken an interest”
listen to music – Consider running without music in the dark because you need to be aware of what is going on around you that you can’t see. Not everyone wears reflective clothing (dogs for example don’t usually wear any clothing) and you never know who might be trying to get your attention that you cannot see. I hate going music-less so if you feel you cannot run without it then only put one headphone in at half the volume, see? compromise!
Substitute long distances – Try to avoid long distances at night (unless you are specifically training for them) because you don’t always run at your natural gait, you could be stop starting due to hazards or uncertainties and over longer distances you can start developing deficiencies which leave you more prone to muscle strain or injury.
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