Our Top Six Safety Tips for Running in the Dark

Runs during the fall and winter seasons require a little more planning that those effortless summer mornings when you can simply roll out of bed and throw on shorts and a tank. If you are a year-round runner, you are bound to fall prey to some early morning or late evening runs in the dark. Make sure to follow these extra steps to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable run from the moment you take your first stride. Our staff even chipped in their expert advice and personal preferences for staying safe in the dark. 


1. Ditch the headphones.

As nice as it can be to have pump-up music blasting in your ear as you conquer your morning run, your ability to get a feel for you surroundings is impaired when you are tuned into your music. Boston marathon qualifier Casey Ryan adds, “although it might help some runners zone out from the pain of a run, it is also letting your body zone out from whatever perils might be looming whether it be reckless drivers, or someone who might be out of line and could cause you harm.” So save your music jam session for right before you head out for your run and stay alert while you run the roads or trails.


2. Make reflective gear your new BFF.

Light up the night! Lots of running apparel and accessories now include reflective accents and features to make sure you can be seen by cars and other foot traffic. Distance runner and mom Caroline Pinkin recently started wearing a lightweight reflective vest on her early morning runs. “It goes over any amount of layers and I feel much safer,” she says. Casey shares that she sports a reflective headband that serves the dual purpose of keeping her hair back and allowing her to be seen. She also makes sure her outer layers have reflective components. Added bonus: wearing bright, neon running clothes is bound to make you smile.


3. Don’t be afraid to flash.

In addition to wearing bright clothing, there are a few other small items that can help you really stand out and shine through the darkness. Try clipping on a blinking light to your leggings, top, ponytail, hat or shoes to cut through the early morning or evening blackness. Nathan strobe lights or Amphipod vizlet LED reflectors are great choices for an easy, quick way to turn yourself into a human disco ball. Training coach Justin Dominick also suggests trying a handheld flashlight. He uses the Nathan Zephyr Fire and explains, “It is super bright and also has a blinking red light on the butt end of the light for visibility behind you. It has a strap just like a handheld water bottle so you don't have to clench it and its angled neck shines the light on the ground out in front of you.”


4. Take (mental) notes as you drive.

Check out what other runners and walkers are wearing as you drive. What stands out to you? What is visible and what isn’t? “Spend the time to pay attention. This will help it sink in as to what you should be wearing. And my philosophy is the brighter and more reflective the better. Light up the night people! Be seen not squashed,” says Kathy Logsdon, marathon finisher and 5K training coach. Definitely a good running motto to follow.


5. Run single (file) with a double.

Groups are easier to spot than an individual runner so try running in the morning or evenings with at least one partner for twice as much reflective and blinking. Running with someone else can also help ease your mind and keep things fun! Just remember to run single file along narrow road shoulders and other tight spaces to ensure you don’t interfere with traffic.


6. Switch up your location.

If you are feeling uneasy about running along the roads at night, try venturing to a local track with lights. Although not the most entertaining spot, you can run at ease knowing that you are in a well-lit area with no risk of traffic. Hopping on the treadmill is another great option, especially when you are trying to get in a very early run or a last minute jog before bed. Plus, both the track and treadmill provide great opportunities to incorporate speed work into your weekly running routine.


What are your top safety tips for running in the dark? Share with us in the comments below. Happy fall running!


*Thanks to Dawn Litrenta and her Across the Bay 10K Training Group for the photos.

About The Author: Lizzy Peper

Lizzy is the Marketing Coordinator for Charm City Run. Previously she worked as a part time Sales Associate for two years in the Timonium store. Lizzy ran competitively as a member of the cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams at Towson High School and Marist College. She co-captained the Division I Marist women's cross country team in 2015 and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Communication and a concentration in Public Relations. Check out her personal blog at pepinurstep.com.