10 tips to help you stay safe running in the dark

10 tips to help you stay safe running in the dark


The season for running in the dark has arrived. Along with holiday candy comas and face-stuffing festivities, we endure the challenge of keeping up with fitness while battling shorter days and low-light conditions. Don’t fear the darkness! Get out there! But first…

Check out these 10 tips to help you stay safe and seen while running in the dark:

BE BRIGHT – We can all thank the running industry for continuing to offer head-to-toe options flashing back to the neon colors of the 80s. Thank goodness! Wearing the most illuminating colors on the run is the brightest move you can make. The science behind how our eyes react to color is fascinating. Bright yellow is best for dusk while neon green is a more visible color as eyes adjust to the darkness. Of course once it’s pitch black, those neon colors are ineffective and the retroreflective pieces take over. A car’s headlights pick up the mirror-like surfaces of the reflective material, making you shine like the star you are! (Want to geek out about the science of colors and how fluorescents work? Read this.)

Here I am wearing the Brooks Bolt Jacket and Bolt Hat.
Love these fun, reflective accessories like wrap bracelets and headbands too!
eat happy run healthy reflective running in the dark

Oh, and I just ordered one of these bad ass lighting/reflective vests to try — the Tracer360 from NOXGEAR. A fellow November Project member was wearing one at a workout, and the functionality looked awesome. I’ll report back.

GET LIT – Now that cars and cyclists can see you, let’s make sure you can see the road. Headlamps are probably the most widely adopted, hands-free approach. I don’t particularly like the feeling of a headlamp, so instead I reach for the Nathan Fire 300 Hand Torch. It’s more than just a really bright light with these additional features:

  • The batteries are rechargeable. #winning
  • 359 lumens with 4 lighting modes, including a strobe
  • Grip-free running with the hand strap
  • Loud warning signal button for safety!
  • Red blinking backlight
  • Weather-proof

MAKE EYE CONTACT – When approaching an intersection, never assume a driver sees you or is going to stop. Aim to make eye-contact with them. Don’t be bashful! Aim your light directly in the drivers face to get their attention. It might startle them, but trust me, they would rather see you than hit you.

BUDDY UP – Not only are running buddies the best accountability partners, but safety in numbers is always a plus, especially when you’re a woman. Four eyes are better than two when keeping an eye out for curbs, cars, and creepers. Furry K-9 friends also make awesome running buddies. BONUS – They’re a pacer, an alarm, and a weapon all in one!

Meet Tamara — my run buddy extraordinaire.
4 1/2 years of running together,
and neither of us has ever been a no-show.
 photo ragnar.jpg

TUNE IN – Save your favorite tunes for post-run dance parties. Focus on staying aware of your surroundings. Keep your mind and eyes focused, and listen for cars, dogs, cyclists, or other threats. Be 110% aware.

FACE IT – Always run against the traffic. You’ll gain more reaction time if you can see what is coming towards you, and we all know how unpredictable drivers can be. Neighborhood sidewalks are sometimes major tripping hazards, but if they are available it’s always safer to use them. Lights on, awareness engaged!

CARRY A PHONE – For many of us, running is the only time we can check-out from the crazy connected world we live in. I get it! But there are scenarios when safety comes first, and running in the dark alone makes up as one of those times. I can think of so many reasons why this makes sense: an emergency, you’re lost, you need to be picked up, to send location (see below), etc. If you don’t like the traditional arm or waist belts as phone holders, the iRing is a super cheap, handy (pun intended) device that keeps your phone within reach and secured in your hand. It also doubles for a stand and a car holder to boot!

 photo iRing.jpg

LEAVE A LOCATION –  Leave a note or send a text informing someone of which running route you’re taking and when you expect to return. Or, leverage the power of technology. One of my favorite functions on the iPhone is the ability to share locations. My husband’s phone is linked to mine so he can always see where my phone is located — also a good idea if you tend to misplace your phone! But leave the live tracking apps alone, they are a predator’s dream come true.

 photo note.jpg

BE UNPREDICTABLE – Running the same route, at the same time, over and over again is not only boring, but it’s also dangerous — STOP! Vary your route and running times to stay unpredictable.

CARRY AN ID – If anything should ever happen to you, this makes a terrible situation better. 

QUESTION: Have another tip for staying safe while running in the dark? Share below in the comments section.


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