» 5 Tips for Running Safely in the Dark

5 Tips for Running Safely in the Dark

April 12, 2012 | Steven McElwee

The best time to run for me is when my family is in bed. I wake up at 4:30 AM and hit the streets before 5:00 AM. Running this early has allowed me to be consistent with my schedule, since few things interrupt this sacred time. But it is dark. Very dark.

At first, running in the dark was intimidating. It didn’t seem natural. But after several months, it has become my favorite time to run. There are very few cars on the road. Everything is quiet. And on a clear morning, the stars are beautiful.

If you want to try running in the dark, here are five tips to keep you safe:

1. Choose a well lit route.

Find a route that is well lit by street lights. Running in a rural area without adequate lighting can be dangerous, but street lights provide adequate lighting and keep you aware of your surroundings.

2. Assume cars have the right of way.

At crosswalks and intersections, you may have the right of way, but I have found that few cars stop at stop signs. Most only look in the direction opposite of their turn. You cannot trust a car to follow the law or even to extend a courtesy to let you go. Run defensively.

3. Wear highly reflective clothing.

My wife laughs at me when she sees me in my morning gear. I wear as much reflective clothing as I can. I top it off with a reflective yellow vest that I bought at Lowes, and I wear a blinking red light that I attach to my clothing. Maintaining a high profile will help you to stay safe arround traffic – even if you look funny.

4. Watch for wild life.

In the dark, even docile animals can terrify you. I spot deer, cats, racoons, and even skunks. Watch out for all wild life and think through scenarios for different types of animals. If you spot them first, you can usually stop and let them pass without incident. If it makes you more comfortable, carry a small flashlight so you can spot critters at a distance.

5. Cary ID.

Carrying ID will not keep you from getting hurt, but if you are injured or have health issues, it may save your life. You can buy an ID bracelet or necklace. If you are cheap, like me, you can just carry your driver’s license. ID will allow medical responders to learn what they need to about you and provide the care you need.

These are my top tips for running safely in the dark. What are your tips?

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