Running in the Dark: Safety Tips & Gear Essentials
If you told me a year ago that I would be able to run longer than 10 miles, I would have laughed at you. If you told me 6 months ago that I would be waking up at 4:00 am on a week day to run those 10+ miles I would have told you that you were insane. If you told me two months ago that my beloved sunrise runs would turn into pitch black runs therefore needing reflective gear that made me resemble a cross between a construction worker and a miner, I would probably have scoffed at you. Honestly, the whole “all you need to run is a good pair of shoes” is a lie. If you’re in it for the long run (pun intended), you need fuel, you need a watch, you need a foam roller and compression sleeves and if you’re only time to fit in a run is at 4 am on a week day; you need reflective gear. Here are a few tips just in case you have to brave the dangers of the dark like me!
1. Run against traffic: This is kind of a basic well know rule but it is an important one. I always run against traffic especially because I live in the country and between rolling hills and pitch black roads, this at least gives me a small advantage of seeing oncoming traffic ahead of time.
2. Silence the tunes: Ok, maybe not completely silence them but running with ear phones in while its dark out is pretty dangerous. The sense of sight is already diminished so eliminating the sense of hearing would be pretty irresponsible. Fun running fact about me- I don’t wear ear buds. Ever. I always keep my music playing on my phone in my running belt. I mostly do this because I hate the feeling of ear buds but it also gives me a safety advantage especially in the dark.
3. Bring a cell phone: Also a no brainer. I always have my cell phone handy even when I am out for a short run. Not only is it how I track my run but it is also essential to have in case of an emergency. You never know what creeper is gonna come rollin’ up while you’re plowin’ along. I had a strange truck drive by suspiciously on my run this morning- you better believe I had my phone ready to dial 911.
4. Have identification with you: While it might not seem like a necessity, it is important to have identification in case of injury or an accident. This is the one thing that has been recommended to me over and over again since I began running and I just have yet to purchase a Road ID. As I am typing this I think I might just bite the bullet and buy one now!
5. Travel a well-lit, well known route: Well-lit is important for obvious reasons and I say well known because it is much easier to get lost in the dark if you try to travel an unfamiliar route. Also, when you are aware of your exact location you can relay that to 911 in case of an emergency (like a random weirdo or an accident). Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of street lights on all the roads I run so having my own source of light is imperative. We will get to that in a second.
6. Wear reflective gear: Did you know that in street clothes you are only visible to other cars by a mere 200 feet? Wearing reflective gear adds an additional 1000+ feet to that visibility and adding a headlamp increases your visibility even more. Which brings us to the gear part
Here are my most recent purchases to ensure that I stay safe while running in the dark hours of the early morning:
Amphipod Pink Xinglet
This reflective vest has both front and rear reflective surfaces, is made of chafe free material and is easily adjustable to fit any size. I wore it this morning for my 13 mile run and can confirm that it was very comfortable to wear, I barely even noticed it was there. I also found it really easy to adjust and didn’t have to fuss with it too much when putting it on. While I haven’t tried other reflective vests, I would recommend this one if you are looking to purchase. I bought mine off of Amazon.
Nathan Strobe Light
My next purchase also from Amazon, was this strobe light. There are two settings; either just a steady light or flashing with a battery life of up to 100 hours. It is also weather proof and clips easily onto your shirt or belt. I clip mine directly to my xinglet vest
Princeton Tec Fuel LED Headlamp The final and most expensive piece of gear I bought was the Princeton Tec Fuel LED Headlamp. I purchased this one from my local Fleet Feet store because I wanted to try it on before I bought it, though the price on Amazon is comparable to what I paid there. The headlamp has 4 different modes: high, medium, low and flash with between 146 – 50 hours of battery life depending on the mode. It is also waterproof and comes with a 5 year warranty. I wore it during my run this morning and can report that it was comfortable, did not chafe and provided me with ample light even when it was pitch black.
Here is what I looked like with the entire ensemble on: Sexy right? I took this at about 4:15 this morning feeling like a cross between a construction worker, a miner and well, a super hero. Where is my damn cape? 😉
QOTD: Do you run in the dark? What safety measures do you take?