Today’s post is inspired by something I saw a few weeks ago, on the way home from work, once the sun had set and it was completely dark outside. My colleague and I were driving home from work on a busy road, whose speed limit is 60 mph (about 100 km/h). This road isn’t lit up at all. In fact, the only roads that are lit up in Scotland are those in cities, towns, and some stretches of highways and motorways. To put things into context: I rarely used my brights when I drove in rural Canada. In Scotland, I always use my brights when I drive in the countryside.
My colleague and I were approaching a town, where the speed limit drops to 40 mph (60 km/h). Up ahead, we saw a faint blue light, bouncing. My colleague was driving, so he slowed down to be cautious, neither of us knowing what the source of the light was. Within 10 feet of the car, we could make out the faint outline of a man, running, his only source of light being that tiny, faint blue light. He wasn’t wearing reflective clothing, nor was he wearing anything brightly coloured. AND, he was running against traffic on an incredibly busy, fast road, despite there being several quieter, and safer, options. I really hope this runner is still a beginner, because that’s the only explanation I can think of when looking at the amount of risk he had created for himself. It seems common sense to be smart in the dark had evaded him.
And that’s just what today’s post is about: tips on how to be smart, in the dark, as a runner.
1. Wear reflective clothing. All over.
There is an abundance of reflective running clothes out there, it’s hard not to miss really. Every major running clothing brand makes their own version of reflective items that runners can use to be seen at night. Nike and Puma seem to specialise lately in both ultra-reflective jackets and tights.
My friends Amy and Wendy from running both wear a Puma running jacket that has a reflective cross-hatch design that appears when cars pass us.
I usually wear my 2XU compression tights to run because they have many silver X’s on both legs, front and back.
2. Wear bright clothing.
Bright pink, orange, yellow or green; any colour that will make you stand out and allow others to spot you. While fluorescent running clothes aren’t necessarily reflective, at least they’re another medium that allow you to stand out. You may not think they’re totally stylish – I don’t – but fluorescent running tops, jackets, tights and/or accessories make the difference. Even fluorescent shoes will help!
3. Fire up your run!
Wear some kind of light device(s) on your person to show traffic that you’re a runner, you’re there and to be careful of you. I love the Nathan Perfect Gear devices for this, especially the Dome Light hat with lights in both the front and back, (the ponytail holder is also very convenient).
I also wear a Nathan Light Bender arm band and a Nathan Light Spur, which fits around the heel of my shoe.
Basically, with reflective tights, sometimes a bright top, and all these devices that light me up, I can’t be missed! Hence #fireupyourrun!
4. Run in well-lit areas.
This means towns or cities, lit up by street lights. I’m guessing most runners do this anyway, but I’m going to include this tip, just in case. I personally wouldn’t run in an unlit area because I have a fear of landing on a rock and rolling my ankle. I’ve done this before, so my fear is justified. I’ve also run past people and people with animals, walking in the pitch black, and just their presence scared me!
If you like running in the dark, I can’t stop you from doing it, so…
5. Choose less busy roads to run along OR run on the sidewalk
This is more so for lit up areas. It just makes sense really; even in rural places, where there are less roads, there’s still more than one way to get from point A to point B. Try to use the less busy route.
6. Tell someone where you’re running
I think this tip should be done whether you’re running at night or during the day. It’s always good to tell at least one person when you’re leaving, where you’re running and then, when you return, that you’re back. Pat and I always tell each other our routes if we run on our own, and we have a system where one knocks on our living room window, which tells the other that they’re home. We’re really advanced like that 😉
One way that I can help you be safer for night running is through my latest giveaway! The lovely people at 2pure (aka Ellie), have given me two Nathan Zephyr Fire 100 handheld, running flashlights for two of my amazing, lucky readers. These lights have a suggested retail price of £44.99 (about $69.45 USD, $87 CAD or €61), and they’re handheld, with the light tilting downwards. They have a beam distance of up to 67m, they’re water resistant and come with an emergency siren, just in case. The light has three modes – low, high and strobe – and comes with a rechargeable battery.
I got to try out a Zephyr Light this autumn and winter, and I would recommend using it as a means to light yourself and your running surface up, in partly lit areas; I wouldn’t recommend it for completely pitch black running conditions.
I’ve got two lights to give away: one will be for UK readers only; the other will be for a reader from Europe, Canada OR the USA. To enter, please leave a comment below on how you stay safe when running at night, as well as your country of residence. The giveaway closes Monday, Mach 2nd, 2015; I will choose two winners randomly and announce it on the blog.
Don’t forget to enter and leave a comment!
How do you stay safe when running at night?
What safety tips would you give new runners?