Just because it's getting dark doesn't mean you have to cut your runs short. A little extra preparation can help you run at night, stay safe, and keep up with your training goals.
As adults we don't always wander out into the dark, but night runs under the moonlight can be both mesmerizing and peaceful. Running in the evenings is also a great way to relax after a stressful day at work. It allows you to view your surroundings from a different perspective, even though you may have run the same route in the daylight.
Here are some night running tips to keep you safe after the sun goes down.
1. Bring a light.
Whether you prefer a headlamp, a chest lamp, or a handheld flashlight, bring something along to light your way. Headlamps are great because the beam follows wherever you look. Some people do not like running with headlamps because of the shadows they can create. If this is the case, use a light source at waist level.
2. Be visible.
Always try to be seen, especially if you are running where there is vehicular traffic. When running trails, don't forget about the mountain bikers. They enjoy the trails after dark as well. Almost all running gear these days include reflective patches. Ensure yours does. If not, consider running in a reflective vest.
3. Know the route.
It's easy to get confused and disoriented when night running. Some areas may seem familiar and then completely alien a few minutes later. Try running your route during the daytime, paying attention to markers that you can identify in the dark. Another option is to run the route with someone who is familiar with it.
4. Lift your feet.
The shadows caused by flashlights and headlamps can throw off your depth perception, causing some people to trip and stumble. Practice lifting your feet with every step until it comes naturally.
5. Leave the music at home.
You want to stay alert during your night runs and headphones can distract you. Your sense of sight is already impacted, so you want to use your sense of hearing as much as possible.
Night running is about feeling primal, being one with nature, and listening to your body's movements. Get the most out of your experience by staying aware, alert, and calm.Sign up for your next race.
Robert Shackelford is a barefoot/minimalist ultra runner who loves the moon. You can follow his blog at shackalacka.blogspot.com