I always say that I run at “o’dark-thirty” but in the summer months it actually is light out for my 5:00 am (ish) runs. Now that we are heading into fall, it is dark until 6:30 am, and even people who run in the evenings may find themselves running in the dark.
(sunrise out my backyard window)
As much as I love to run in the pre-dawn hours, I know that running in the dark is inherently dangerous. Here are some safety tips for running in the dark.
- Run on a well-lit path. Maybe this isn’t really a tip for running in the dark, but it is safer if you can see where you are going, and if others can see you.
- Dress to be seen. Wear light clothing, reflective gear, and a head lamp or knuckle lights if it’s really dark. (Check out night-gear.com for some ideas.)
- Run facing traffic. It’s never a good idea to run in the street in the dark, but if you have to, make sure you are running on the left side of the road, facing traffic. A car or truck coming up behind you in the dark may not see you until it’s too late.
- Run defensively. Sure, pedestrians (including runners) have the right of way, but being “right” won’t be much help if you get hit by a car. If you are running in the road, move as far to the side as you can if a car or truck is approaching, and move to the shoulder, grass or sidewalk if that’s what it takes to provide ample clearance. Don’t hesitate to stop running if traffic gets busy. Surviving your run is much more important than hitting your target pace.
- Assume that drivers do not see you. This is a good safety tip any time of day, but is particularly important when you are running in the dark, at dawn, or at dusk. You may think that you are visible, but drivers may not see you in the dark or dim light. Stop before you cross a street and watch for cars turning right–they are looking to their left for oncoming traffic, and may not even think to lookout for the runner to their right.
Do you run in the dark?
Do you have other safety tips?