Running in the Dark

One particularly dark morning last week I sent a question out on twitter asking people where they run when it’s dark and how they stay safe. Looking outside my own window, I was too nervous to run my particular route that isn’t all well lit in the very early morning. Within minutes I had a number of tweets of encouragement from other runners, letting me know I certainly wasn’t the only one who was a little scared of the dark, and giving me lots of advice.

Here’s some of the tips for running in the dark that I thought you guys might find useful too;

  • High Vis is a must
  • Wear a head torch or bring a torch if it’s not lit by street lighting 
  • Change your route, running where it’s busier to make you feel safer
  • Stick to main roads rather than park
  • If you’re in London, run the between tube stations that are busy at all hours
  • Run with a friend or running group
  • Complete laps if necessary of areas that are safe such as up and back along the main road
  • Bring a dog with you (love this advice, just need to live somewhere dog friendly!)
  • Take your phone and use a GPS tracker so that someone knows where you are
  • Don’t listen to music- stay alert and aware
  • Try to run a little later in the morning, at lunch or earlier in the evening
  • Run commute
Taking lots of this advice on board, yesterday I borrow Tom’s head torch, dug out a high vis vest and dragged Tom out for a 3.5 mile run along the trail I love so much. 
Turns out I actually do not love it so much in the dark, even with Tom and a head torch. The 3/4 mile stretch that’s completely unlit was just not so much fun with only the head torch light to guide the way, and I was worried I’d step on something or roll my ankle on an unseen hazard. It confirmed to me that I need to find a ‘dark running route’ that I’ll feel confident running on my own. 
It was fun to get out for a run with Tom though- he’s actually training for his first half marathon! We’ll be running the Surrey Half Marathon on the 9th March- feel free to join us. Although he won’t let me help him with a training plan (yet), he’s keen to join me on a few more runs and even suggest we do another one tonight. I’ll make him a runner yet! If you’re looking for a beginner half marathon training plan I really recommend Hal Higdon’s Novice Half Marathon plans. If he does ever listen, I’ll probably give Tom a version of Novice 2.  
I’m planning on working with Gia again for this half marathon season, as I’m trying to run a sub 1.50 at the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon on 2nd March. I’ll then use the Surrey half as a recovery run/training for Paris if I meet my goal, or give sub 1.50 another attempt if I miss it at Silverstone. 
What are your tips for running in the dark? What’s your next goal race? 

3 Comments

  1. 8th January 2014 / 9:12 am

    When i was training for my first half (in Autumn, so it wasn’t even THAT dark) I got a bit spooked one night by some hoodlums – after that, the bf used to tail me on his bike while I ran! I found that was a good compromise as he is a non-runner, and it made me feel safe.

    This winter, I am forcing myself out into the dark too. I always tell someone where I am going and what time I expect to be back – and then call or text if I decide to run longer!

  2. 8th January 2014 / 8:05 pm

    Forced myself out for sprint intervals in the dark tonight – I like running in the early evening but not in the dark so winter is tough for my motivation (at least no rain tonight!)
    I stick to main roads and run laps of well-lit streets I know well, and always tell my family what time i should be back and carry my phone for safety.

    I will be running the Surrey Half as my second half marathon, but I’ve got the Canterbury 10 mile in 2 weeks as part of my training (hopefully I’ll feel more confident about it after that!)

  3. 9th January 2014 / 1:22 pm

    These are good tips, I don’t like running in the dark and I don’t feel comfortable enough in my new area to run in the dark yet.