If you are an outdoor runner, odds are you have to run early in the morning or late in the day. Running in the dark can be a bit scary at first but if you prepare and are aware, you can get out and back safely.
Here are a few of my tips for safe running at night or in the early morning hours.
Wheels Always Win
Use crosswalks, make eye contact when crossing in front of vehicles, be aware of cyclists screaming down the hill behind you and most importantly, let anything with a wheel have the right of way.
Light it Up
I am amazed, AMAZED at the number of people who run in the early morning and late evening hours that wear dark colors head to toe and do not carry a light or have a stitch of reflective gear on them. At the MINIMUM, please grab a small flashlight. If you are running against traffic turn the beam to face cars and if you are running with traffic (this is important) let the light shine behind you. That’s right. Turn that beam so it’s behind you and cars, bikes and those crazy fast moms pushing jogging strollers will see you.
Every now and then I’ll run one of my normal weekday loops and I’ll see some creepy-looking person walking down the dark part of the street. I have no desire to show Stranger A that I’m some super brave chick so I just cross the street and then turn my head back a few times. I do this for 2 reasons, 1) to make sure they know that I know that they’re there and 2) so if they start chasing me I have time to react. Crazy thoughts go through my head when I run alone.
Check your Volume
I love loud banging music like the next person but when I’m running in the dark I tend to keep the volume low so I can hear if anything is going on. Dogs or other animals charging or Creepy People (see above) trying to get me.
The Wild Side
This one I didn’t even think about until I ran into a coyote that I swear to God started to follow me. I live in an area near a ton of open space so people often see deer, skunks, racoons, bobcats, coyotes and even a mountain lion (if you believe the comments on NextDoor) that come down from the hills. I’m not saying you need to stop running outside but be aware that you could face something furry on a dark run and you should know what to do. In my case, I turned and shouted “HAAAAA” about 10 times and then ran to the maintenance person cleaning the bathroom at the Civic Center lagoon. Who, I am not embarrassed to say, laughed at me. Whatever.
Needless to say I have given that loop a break for a few weeks. Better safe than sorry, I always say.
Good luck with your running and be safe out there.
Now go run!