Five Saftey Tips For Running In The Dark

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Dress to be seen. Wear light clothing, reflective gear, and a head lamp or knuckle lights if it’s really dark.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

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9 Responses to Five Saftey Tips For Running In The Dark

  1. MizFit says:

    I dont but I DRIVE and walk and everything assuming no one sees me.

  2. I try to not run with music – got to stay alert!!

  3. roctherun says:

    I showed up to run trails yesterday at 6:30… WOOPS I totally forgot my headlamp, and trails are PITCH black that early…. no good.

  4. Carrie says:

    Great advice. I always tell my kids to never assume that the drivers see you.

  5. David H. says:

    No music when it's dark. You'll survive. 🙂

    As for reflective clothing/strips, there are different grades/varieties of reflective strips — many are essentially useless on the road. I wish running companies would step it up a bit and let people know what it is they're really buying.

  6. Heather Iacobacci (@ says:

    Great tips. I have been seeing more of these as it just seems dark all the time now. I do run in the dark and always wear a blinking light and carry my mace. And definitely with David H. No music.

  7. Janice - Fitness Cheerleader says:

    When I ran Ragnar this past Spring my night run was at 10 pm on some very dark paths. We learned quite quickly while they require each runner to wear a headlight and blinking tail light – I now use both of those on my early morning runs (on the rare occasion that I manage to get out of bed early enough to get a run in before work).
    Janice – Fitness Cheerleader recently posted…Things I’m Loving This WeekMy Profile

  8. Oh, I don’t really like running in the dark. Also, I’m not up that early 🙂
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Looking forwardMy Profile

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