Once the sun goes down, running along streets or out in the trails becomes dangerous to say the least. Not only can you not see well, but, and almost more importantly, those coming at you, most specifically fast moving automobiles, can’t identify you either.
With this in mind, those of us who have to squeeze in training around busy work schedules, or who live any place where the sun sets for four months of the year around 4:30 pm, need to take into consideration our own safety.
So, before you head out into the evening or early morning hours to get your run in, think about these six ideas to get you home in one piece.
1. Run what you know
In the dark, stay with what is familiar. Deciding to do a brand new five mile loop you heard some friends talking about is not the best idea. Knowing the turns and the specifics of a given course let you run a little more at ease in the dark rather than trying to navigate a new moment over and over.
2. Know what’s ahead
Skip the trails, even if you know them well. Too many unpredictable situations. Instead, run more or less flat, even surfaces that minimize the decisions you need to make.
3. Judge the weather
Sure a little rain won’t hurt you, but roads get slick for both you and cars when the water pours down. Sometimes the ego and desire need to take a backseat to true safety. When the weather gets to be too much, try the treadmill or head to the gym.
4. Make no assumptions
It is easy to think the cars coming at you or from behind can see you; hey, you can see them, right? Well, don’t assume they can. Even if they are paying close attention, drivers may not see you in the shadows or you could be hidden in some glare off their windshield. Be extra cautious, even if that means stepping off the side of the road and disrupting your run.
5. Get bright
Although this one is pretty obvious, it needs to be said. Break out the reflective gear and neon apparel. You won’t win any fashion contests, but you’ll survive. You may even want to clip on a blinking light to your belt or shoes.
6. Grab a light
Make like a miner and wear a headlamp or carry a flashlight to illuminate the way. Not only will this help drivers see you, but it will also give you the chance to see the road ahead. Nothing like a sudden pot hole to take a vicious bite out of your ankle when you least expect it.
Overall, make yourself obvious and always keep safety at the forefront. No training session, regardless of how crazy or dedicated you are, should trump the idea of returning with all your limbs and fully intact.