Friday, June 14, 2013

In the Still of the Night

Once in awhile, scheduling gets away from me and I'm left wanting to run well after sundown. If Matt can come with me, he'll often join for the safety of it. But tonight he was going to the gym, so I found myself alone, much to his dismay.

Nothing like zero visibility for a good run, right?
I planned to run my go-to nighttime route, which is a well-lit neighborhood loop about a mile around with a nice parking lot. However, when I pulled in, a police officer kindly informed me that the lot now has rules about parking there after dusk, and I was in danger of being towed. He was very apologetic, but that didn't change the fact that my once dependable well-lit path was now obstructed.

I was able to drive not too far and park in another well-lit area. I ended up running a loop that took me into that nice neighborhood (now complete with a sentinel police officer!), and gave me the two miles I was hoping for.

Here are some tips for running after dark:

1. Before you go, tell someone where you'll be and when to expect you back. (I often let Matt know that I'll text him when I'm back to the car so that he knows as soon as I'm done and can stop worrying.)

2. Carry MACE and your phone. Again, this is something that I recommend for any solo run, but holds especially true for nighttime runs. I love my jogging MACE; it doesn't impede my workout at all. 

3. If we're talking about a summer nighttime run, of course you're going to want some bug spray. Those mosquitoes can get nasty.
I love this bug spray! It dries quickly, smells nice, and keeps those bitey critters away!
4. Run where it's busy. I prefer residential streets or well-traveled roads. In theory, if I need help, it's not far from me.

5. Run where there's sidewalk.

6. Leave your headphones off. It's really important to be able to hear everything going on around you, especially because darkness automatically means your eyesight is impaired (unless you're part galago).

Built-in night vision: cute or creepy? You decide.

7. Run against traffic. This is a rule for any time of day, really, but is especially important to abide by after dark. If the driver of a car can't see you, at least you'll see him or her.

8. Wear reflective gear. Again, you want to be visible!

9. Stay on familiar paths. Nighttime is not the time to go exploring. You're more likely to get lost, and you want to be somewhere you know is safe when running in the dark.

10. Last year I posted this about running safety, and those rules still apply as well!

I do love a good nighttime run. Usually, my senses are all hyped up and my adrenaline gets moving. This means my nighttime runs are usually faster and leave me feeling like I've accomplished something real. After all, I could have said it was too late, but instead I chose to get out there and get the run in.

For training purposes, especially during the school year, I need to run in the mornings. And I like having the whole day open after a morning run. But I will always be a night owl, and nighttime runs will always be my preference.

What are some safety precautions you take while running alone?
Are you a morning or evening runner?
What's the most random time of day you've fit a run in?



  1. Oh, I love nighttime runs. But I haven't done any in a long while. I'm a morning person at heart, really, so to run at night always meant creating a second wind (and then staying up much later than I otherwise would). And since having kids and also moving to the city it just isn't worth the effort or the worry.

    1. I definitely have trouble sleeping after a run if I go too late. It's a good way to get a second wind if I need to pull an all-nighter haha!

  2. Good safety tips. You can never been too protected on a run! i love getting runs out of the way so my entire day is free. If I don't I usually don't get the run done!

    1. Agreed! The benefit of a morning run is knowing it's done and the day is yours!

  3. I hate running after dark. It always freaks me out, but I also don't live in town so there's no street lights or anything. I usually run in the evening (when it's light :)) Great tips though.

    1. It can definitely be a little scary, but I love that the adrenaline of fear gets me moving faster!

  4. Replies
    1. You're welcome! I hope you find it useful :o)