The winter is the ideal time to build a good base through training, but it is also the time when you might have to run in the dark. If you don’t want to spend the winter months on a treadmill, it’s important to consider how you can stay safe while running in the dark.
We have put together our 9 top tips here for you, but we’d love to hear if you have any more titbits of safety advice.
Check out our Time To Reflect range too, to ensure that you can be seen.
1. Be bright, be seen
When you run in the dark, it’s very important to make sure road users can see you. Make sure you are lit up and visible from a distance. Wear bright, fluorescent and reflective clothing (such as this a long-sleeve reflective running top). Wear lights on your arms, legs and feet too, to make it easy for drivers to work out you are a runner from a distance. They are more likely to notice moving lights on your limbs than static ones on your torso alone. Wear a head torch to help with your vision, as well as making you more visible.
2. Run against traffic flow
Running against the traffic gives you the most chance of seeing cars approaching and keeping safely out of their way.
3. Cross behind cars at junctions
If you have to cross a road at a junction and a car is waiting, make sure you cross behind it. The driver may not be expecting a pedestrian, and might not notice you approaching in the dark. They are likely to start to pull out as soon as there is a gap in the traffic. Crossing behind them is the safer option.
4. Choose some headwear
Wearing a peaked cap is a good idea when running at night. The cap will take the force of any stray twigs or branches that you haven’t seen in the dark. It might save an eye injury! Or consider a hat with reflective elements (like these beanie hats) to help you stay both warm and seen.
5. Stay aware
When running in the dark it’s more important than ever to be aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear headphones, as it’s important to be able to hear traffic or people approaching.
6. Carry ID and your phone
It’s important to carry some form of identification with you in case of an accident. ID bracelets or dog tags are a good idea, as they’re not another thing to try to cram into the back pocket of your tights. Carry your mobile phone fully charged in case of emergencies and add an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact so that responders know who to call.
7. Run in the dark with a friend
Running in the dark is always more pleasant with company, not to mention the old adage, ‘There’s safety in numbers’. See if you can find someone locally to run with (you can see if there is anyone local to you in our Community Group). Perhaps you could join a running club and take advantage of their group runs. Even running with a dog will make you feel less vulnerable.
8. Join the club
Running clubs come into their own during the dark nights of winter. Running in a group doing organised sessions will not only feel safer, but could also improve your running in time for spring. Most clubs will have different paced groups to cater for all abilities. Check out your local running club to find out what they offer.
9. Pick your route carefully
Trying a new route in the dark isn’t very sensible. Try to stick to well-lit roads that you know well. That said, it’s also important to vary your routes. Don’t run the same routes, at the same times, each week. You don’t want to make yourself too predictable.