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5 Tips For Running in the Dark

Whether you are a veteran runner or just starting, we all have our preferred time of day that naturally works within our schedules: early am, midday, after work. However, you can fit in a run is usually based on the natural rhythm to your day. But with our nights getting longer, running with no natural light will become a reality soon enough. A hurdle many runners face every year about this time is acclimating into safely and successfully running outside in the dark.

Running with no natural light presents it’s own unique set of challenges. It’s almost like running in a different world, with different hurdles, and using a different set of tools. It can be an exhilarating change up to your routine, no doubt, but it can cause you to plan ahead even more. Read on below as we highlight five tips to help you transition to running sans sunlight!

1.) Headlamps & Illumination Are Your Friends

It’s not a big secret; the trusty headlamp has become a massive help to nighttime runners from your casual three milers to ultra and trail. These tools sit snuggly around the skull to help illuminate your path. Their brightness can be adjusted, and some even have a blinking feature to alert drivers to your presence if you are in need. They also shouldn’t cost a fortune, are long-lasting, and are widely available: found in most camping stores or the outdoor areas of major department stores. You can also bring an additional headlamp for your hand to help with added depth perception.

2.) Know The Path

Pre-Dawn or Nighttime is probably not the right time to forge new ground in your running regimen. Stick to paths you know well already, are well lit, or are marked as part of a predetermined course. This isn’t the time for surprises for your footfalls! If your regular running loop takes you through higher traffic areas, maybe work to find an alternate path during the daylight hours so you have a better idea where you’ll be heading.

3.) Dress Appropriately

The sun may shine brightly during the day, but when that sun is gone the air can turn chilly quite quickly. Dressing appropriately is a balance in figuring out layering and level of coverage on the skin that will not only keep you warm but also comfortable as you run. Another tip is to make sure to wear at least some bright colored clothing. Investing in reflective wear, tape, or some safety wear can help keep you safer as you run at night and alert drivers to your presence.

4.) Keep Others In The Loop

If you are running solo, tell people where you are going, and show your spouse or someone close to you where you will be running. If you have a smartphone or smartwatch, turn on the location share feature, which can share your real-time location with those you invite. If you are running pre-dawn or after dusk, maybe invite along a friend or bring along your canine companion to join you. It’s always a good tip to let others know where you are heading and when they can expect you back.

5.) Limit Your Distractions

Most of us love to run and listen to our favorite playlists, audiobooks, even podcasts. Running in the dark is a bit different; it should heighten and engage all of your senses, including your hearing. On average it takes 30 to 45 minutes for your eyes to be fully dark adapted to night vision. Which for some of us that could mean the entire time we are out for our run. Since most of us have difficulty seeing our surroundings clearly with limited light, our other senses usually engage to help support. In these instances, it’s best to leave the earbuds at home and listen to your surroundings even more than usual.