9 tips for running in the dark

It’s not a secret that I’m scared of the dark.  (And if it was a secret, it’s not anymore.) In the winter months in New York, there is just SO MUCH DARK. According to the iPhone weather app, the sun rose at 7:13am today and will set at 4:30pm. That is way less than 12 hours of sunlight. Which brings me to the point: if you run in the winter and you have a desk job, you have to run in the dark (whether that means morning or night).

I am in a severe “I hate the treadmill” phase, so I aggregated some ways to play it safe and smart while running outside in those pre-dawn or post-sunset hours.

1.  Run with a friend. Four feet are better than two. As much as I love a solo run I feel safer when I’m not alone on a dark or isolated running path.

2. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. This is a security blanket as much as anything else. If you’re going out into the dark of night, let someone know where you’re going and what your route will be. It’s a smart precaution.

3. Wear bright, reflective clothing. Make it easy for cars to see you. Some reflective clothing for you to shop here. Oh did I just give you an excuse to shop?

Nike reflective running gear

Nike reflective running gear

4. Pick a well lit route. Pro Tip for New Yorkers: The lower loop of the park (60th to 72nd) has bright lights and depending the hour, cars. This 1.5 mile path along the Park Drive is well trafficked by runners and bikers and I feel pretty secure running here after dark. It is (for some) a short loop, but I ran around it more than once to get in some extra miles.

the well-lit lower loop of Central Park

the well-lit lower loop of Central Park

5. Lower your music, or ditch it entirely. Kanye is my favorite running buddy, but it’s not smart to mute your senses by blocking out the sounds around you with music. If like me, you don’t like running without your jams, either lower the volume or run with only one earbud in.

6. If it’s really dark, consider wearing a headlamp. But nothing too bright. A biker in the park blinded me with his helmet light and I nearly lost my footing. So ideally a light you can adjust.

running with a light from Trail Run mag.

running with a light from Trail Run mag.

7. Carry a phone. Now that I have a Garmin and an iPod shuffle, I don’t love running with my phone, but it’s smart to have in case of emergency.

running in Central Park at night

running in Central Park at night

8. Always run against traffic so cars can see you coming.

9. Find a running group. Many running stores (Jack Rabbit, Lululemon for examples) organize runners to meet for post-work jogs. If you don’t have a friend to run with, consider stopping by your local store (of if you’re in NYC check out this list) to avoid running alone.

Resources:

Any other sunlight-free running tips to share?  Leave them in the comments!

2 Comments

  1. December 23, 2015 / 1:01 am

    Great tips! I have to run in the dark all winter long – our sun rises sometime after 10:30 and sets around 3 here in Alaska, so if I want to run when the sun is “out” (not up – it’s really low on the horizon) I have to run at lunch. My headlamp and bright running jacket are my BFFs in the winter!

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