16 essential tips for running safely in the dark

by Feb 25, 2019Healthy living

One of the amazing benefits of running is that you can do it anywhere, and most importantly: anytime. And thus also at night time!

This is absolutely perfect for people who are just too busy during day time, but still want to go for their beloved run.

I personally love running with the heat of the sun the most. But as I work during the day and live in a country where it gets dark between 18:00 and 18:30 year-round, that’s simply not always an option. So in those cases, night time it is!

But as you might guess, running in the dark is really not the same as running in broad daylight. There are definitely some precautions you need to take, to make sure your workout is as safe as possible.

These are the 16 tips that I recommend doing before and during any run in the dark:

1. Plan a familiar route

Firstly, I think it’s very important to plan your route before you are going, so that you won’t have any surprises and get lost in the dark. It’s therefore key to choose a route that you are already familiar with and have done before, so that you know exactly what to expect.

2. Let someone know you’re going for a run and where

Following that, it might be wise to let someone know that you are going for a run. Tell them where you are going and how long it should more or less take. This could for instance be a roommate or family member. Or if you live alone, you can text someone. If they haven’t heard back from you after the scheduled time has passed, they might want to check in on you to see that you’re okay and take action if necessary.

3. Run together

If you have the opportunity, it would be better to run with a buddy or even with a running group. This is always a safer option, because you can help each other instantly in case of an emergency. And next to that, you are less of a target for creepers when you’re not alone.

4. Run in a populated area

Also, it would be a good idea to only run in populated areas after dark. In that way, there are always people around, in case something happens to you. So make sure to take this into account when you are planning your route beforehand.

5. Mix up your routine

It won’t be necessary to run a completely different route every time. But it would be a good idea to mix it up once in a while. While the chances are very low, it’s possible that a creeper somewhere notices a pattern if you run at the same place, same time, and same days of the week. And my guess is that you don’t want a creeper targeting you. So let’s just not take that chance!

6. Wear bright colours

You might think this is an obvious one, and yet I see quite a lot of runners wearing dark clothes at night time. If I see them at all! Truth is, people driving their motorbikes and cars will just see you much better when you wear bright colours. This could be pink, yellow, orange, green, etcetera. As long as they are bright. Neon colours are the best, in my opinion. And on a side note, I’d say they are pretty stylish too. 😉

7. Wear reflective gear

Next to wearing bright colours, it would be even safer to also add reflective gear to that. There are so many options to choose from nowadays. You can find reflective gear in the form of bracelets, jackets, backpack covers, tape, socks, leggings, flip belts and a whole lot more. You name it, and they probably have it! The key here is to be seen as well as possible. So the more reflection, the better.

8. Use a headlamp

Wearing a headlamp when you’re running at night time is an absolute must, in my opinion. This gives you the absolute best chance to be seen by other traffic. Make sure to not use an insanely bright one, and to point it to the ground, so that you don’t blind the drivers coming towards you. Because that might even turn out to be more dangerous!

I personally bought my head light at Decathlon, it was really cheap and I’m very happy with it. You have 3 modes of varying brightness, and you can reposition the light so that it points towards the ground. I don’t know if it’s available in every country, but the name is: “Onnight 700-250 Lumens trekking head torch”.

9. No headphones/music

As much as some people love running with music and can’t imagine running without it, I still would like to encourage you to not do it after dark. Or if you really insist, just keep your headphone in only 1 ear on a low volume. You really need to have your full attention of your surroundings when running in the dark. You’ll be able to hear cars or bicycles approaching, or even footsteps that you don’t trust. If you can’t hear them, you can’t take action.

10. Run against traffic

I still see it time and time again: people running on the same side in the same direction as the rest of the traffic. Please don’t be that person. It’s extremely dangerous and asking for trouble. You are not able to see what’s coming up behind you and how close they are. Or what speed they have. And you can’t see if they have seen you at all. If you run against traffic instead, you can at least see all that. And as a result you can take quick action if someone is driving like a lunatic or if they obviously didn’t see you. You can hop out of the way or step aside quickly if necessary. Also, when you are wearing a head lamp, they won’t be able to see it when they are driving towards your back. But they will when you run against traffic.

11. Keep your eyes on the road

When running in the dark, it’s important to pay extra attention to the road and to watch where you are going. Carefully watch out for uneven steps, holes in the road, or sudden bumps, etcetera. Where I run (Thailand) I also occasionally come across snakes or centipedes, which are just a lot harder to see in the dark. Of course it will depend on your country what you might come across, but just keep your eyes on the road at all times, to avoid surprises!

12. Carry your ID

Always bring some kind of ID with you, in case something happens to you. This can be your normal ID-card, or for instance your driver’s license. If you have pockets with zippers, it’s fine to put it there. And otherwise put it in a little bag specifically made for runners, or for instance a FlipBelt. An alternative and more convenient way, is to go for a RoadID. This is a bracelet on which it is engraved who you are, along with your emergency information. Then you don’t have to worry about losing your ID or license during your run!

13. Bring your phone

I believe it is always a good idea to bring your phone, so that you can make a call in case of an emergency. This could be different types of emergencies. Perhaps you tripped and fell, and now need assistance. Or you think you are being followed and would like to alert someone. Maybe you’ve been hit by a car and they took off. Or you had an unfortunate encounter with feral dogs or another kind of animal. I hope you agree that it’s essential to have your phone with you in cases like this. You don’t want to be waiting for help to arrive, because that might just be too late.

14. Use satefy apps

In addition to just bringing your phone, it might be a good idea to also install some special tracking- and safety apps.

There are numerous out there, but an example of a tracking- and safety app is called “RunSafe”. It has the same options as a lot of other fitness apps, but it also includes GPS-enabled tracking of your runs. What’s furthermore great about this app, is that it has a panic button. When you press it, it will trigger a siren and strobe light, while at the same time recording videos, alerting the authorities and showing them your exact GPS location.

Similar to that app is another security app called “bSafe”, though it works slightly different. In case of an emergency, it will send an alert message to a list of emergency friends. The message will inform them about your exact location, so that they can take action immediately.

Of course you hope that you never have to use them, but it’s quite a reassuring feeling to know you have that option.

15. Follow your instinct

Above all else, follow your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut feeling. Night time is not the time to take risks to see if your instinct was right or wrong. If you feel scared of that person a bit further down the road, just turn back and run the same route that you came. If you don’t trust that group of dogs hanging around where you are headed, also don’t go there. Just turn around. It’s not worth the risk. And it’s also a good idea to follow your instinct even BEFORE you go for you run. Is there something going on outside that you know of? Or do you not trust the weather for that night? Then please just follow your instinct, and save your run for another day.

16. Last resort: use the treadmill

It is possible that you just do not feel comfortable running in the dark at all. If that’s the case for you, then by all means, don’t do it. It’s not worth the anxiety and stress. If the night time really is the only time you have available to go for a run, then choose a treadmill instead! Perhaps you have one at home or you’re thinking about investing in one for this reason. Or if you have a gym membership, then that’s the place to go for a safe relaxed run. 😊

Wrapping up:

As you can tell, there are quite a lot of things to keep in mind when going for a run in the dark. I believe they are essential to ensure your safety when running in the night time, so I’d suggest to use all of these tips, instead of just picking out a few. But once you’ve done all that a few times, it will become second nature, and you won’t even have to give it a second thought!

What do you think about these tips? Do you perhaps have other tips to add to the list? Leave it in a comment below! I’d love to hear your suggestions.

About Me

My name is Lenore and it is my mission to present women with tips and tricks on how to create a healthier lifestyle, but also on how to live more sustainably where less is more. So if you're looking for just that, you're in the right place!