With the start of a new year in full swing and the list of resolutions that comes with it, lots of people will be turning to running as a form of exercise to get healthier this year. However, due to the hecticness of the working week, finding time to run can be a challenge and therefore choosing to get your daily dose of movement in the dark is sometimes the only option.
Thankfully, the experts at Runna (a new personalised running coach app, backed by British Olympian Stephanie Davies and ex-Made in Chelsea star, double world-record holder and ultra-athlete Joshua Patterson) have put together a list of their top tips for running safely in the dark, helping to calm the nerves of those heading out for their daily workout.
Plan your route – Planning your route is a super simple and effective way to get the most out of your run while staying nice and safe. If you’re able to set your route to go through neighbourhoods and pedestrianised areas, you can focus on running on busy roads in well-lit street lamp areas and avoid the dark paths and you’ll know exactly where you’re going. You can also plan to meet a friend along the way or end the run at your favourite coffee shop!
Bring your phone – You’d think that running is the perfect time to shut off from your screen, however, your phone offers a wide range of valuable perks while on a run. Among others, you can use your phone’s built in flashlight for increased visibility, you can make use of your live GPS if you take a wrong turn and, of course, you can also use your phone to alert your friends and family if there is anything wrong or amiss and keep them updated on your whereabouts.
Invite a friend – Bringing a friend on your run offers extra motivation and support, as well as safety in numbers. To take it a step further, organise a weekly run with a larger group of friends or even people that you see running the same route as you on a regular basis. If you’re unable to bring a friend due to scheduling difficulties, ask if you can use them as your ‘checkpoint’ to check in with on the course of your run.
Avoid loud music – Listening to music, though often great for most forms of exercise, can result in you becoming less aware of your surroundings. Running without headphones is ideal, but for those who desperately need some form of sound, listening to an eBook or podcast on a medium volume level will allow you to listen out for any oncoming cyclists or traffic.
High-visibility jacket – Running safely in the dark is just as much about protecting yourself from others as protecting others from yourself. Wearing a high-visibility jacket or piece of clothing helps make sure that any oncoming cyclists or traffic are fully aware of where you are and which direction you’re running in.
Run against traffic – Running against traffic might seem a little crazy but actually gives you more control over your safety. In the event of needing to take action, you won’t have the appropriate time to react if a vehicle is approaching from behind.
Adequate lighting – Whether it’s planning your route where you know there will be street lamps or buying your own headlight, make sure there’s plenty of visibility where you plan on running. Everyone is only a stealthy pothole or sneaky curb away from a trip to A&E with a sprained ankle, which isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun evening.
Stay hydrated – While running at dawn or dusk is often cooler, don’t trick yourself into thinking you don’t need to drink as much just because it isn’t as hot. Dehydration can lead to a loss of strength and stamina which, needless to say, greatly impacts your ability to run.