While there are few things that can compare to a pre-dawn run in the cool, crisp morning air, there are certain precautions that need to be taken to ensure that your morning runs are safe runs.
Here are some important things to remember about running in the dark:
- Visibility is KEY - Reflective materials are your best bet for being seen in the dark. Most running shoes have some reflective material sewn into them already, but that's hardly enough to attract a motorist's attention. Something that is closer to eye-level to the motorist will help greatly. An inexpensive, blaze-orange mesh running vest with reflective stripes will help you to stand out against the darkness. Blinking red lights or blinkies, are beneficial, but most of them are rather awkward and they only help with your visibility in the direction that they are pointed. Reflective material on the other hand, is visible from a much greater angle. Another added benefit to reflective materials is that the battery never gets weak and dies.
- Know where you're running - Scout out your running route before you run it. Know where your road crossings are and any potential things that will disrupt your footing.
- Run on a well lit path - Unless you're willing to carry a flashlight with you while you run to light your path, stay one lit paths or streets/sidewalks. If you're constantly running with your head down because you can't see the road and don't want to trip over anything, you're going to create undo stress on your neck and back.
- Be especially wary of strangers - Less car traffic means more of an opportunity for those with less-than-noble intentions to do ill will toward you and go unnoticed. Also, it's a very good idea to let your family or co-workers know your route and estimated time or return just in case something should happen.
- Leave the headphones at home - Don't compromise your safety for the sake of entertainment. While this could be said for any run on public streets or a public park, darkness creates an additional hazard since you're not as visible as you are during the day. Giving up part of your sense of hearing just isn't worth it.