Now that the days are shorter (read: total darkness at 6 p.m.), you might think your running regimen needs to hibernate until the spring. We're here to say, not so fast.
Running post-dusk can obviously bring some safety concerns into play, but as long as you play it smart, you can still get in a great workout. We asked RRCA certified running coach Amanda Loudin to share tips on how to run at night the right way, so there's no need to fear the darkness.
Ditch the Headphones
You might have a go-to workout playlist (is there a human out there who doesn't get motivated with Katy Perry's "Roar"?) but once the sun sets, you're better off keeping the headphones at home. One study found that traffic accidents involving pedestrians wearing headphones tripled from 2004 to 2011, with a whopping 70 percent resulting in fatalities.
"They are a huge safety issue. You need to have your senses about you so that you can be alert to traffic, animals, other runners, and yes, people with bad intentions," Loudin says. Skip the beats and get in tune with your body and surroundings instead.
Watch for Traffic
If you're sharing the road with cars, your best bet is to run against traffic so you can see what's coming, Loudin says. You'll be able to dodge things much quicker this way, since your back won't be turned to oncoming vehicles. She notes that headlights coming your way can temporarily blind you, so keep your head down once you see the car approaching you.
Slip Into Something Brighter
Black is always in season, but with night workouts it's an absolute no-no. Everyone's vision is worse after the sun sets, so it's important to make yourself seen — to other runners, but especially to drivers. Instead of dark colors, opt for bright yellows, oranges, pinks, and greens. "You can also add a reflective vest or head lamp for extra visibility," Loudin says. "Look for pieces that have reflective tape or purchase it to stick onto existing gear."
Keep Your Routes Safe
This is age-old wisdom, but Loudin stresses that where you run is a key part of safety. "I run at 5 a.m. many mornings, and when I do it alone, I have my "safe" route, which is the one that is well-populated with houses and other people out walking and running at the same time," she says. Mix up your trails and pick up a running buddy for some strength in numbers.
Don't Forget ID
You might only tote a driver's license or ID to happy hour, but it's also a good call to bring it along when you pound the pavement, in case of an accident or emergency. It may feel a tad morbid, but is a best practice that all runners should make a habit. Many runners also like Road IDs, nifty bracelets with your name, medical information, and emergency contact. They're easily identifiable and can make your run a lot more comfortable.