So I mentioned about this the other day, and got loads of tips from other people commenting, so I decided to put it all together into one post.
I think there are 2 main parts of being sensible when out running in the dark-
1- be seen by the cars and don’t get run over.
2- Stay safe from any potentially dodgy situations.
Being seen is the easy part- wear high viz clothing (such as my lovely IKEA jacket which is great as it goes on over any clothes and was way cheaper than any proper high viz running jacket). You can get loads of things now, like flashing lights, Reflectors to clip onto clothes (especially ankles and wrists which move more so would catch the light more).
Wearing bright clothes instead of black will also help you to stand out, but I always think when I am driving in the dark, it is hard to see pedestrians on the pavements, so it’s good to remind yourself that drivers won’t neccessarily see you as well as you can see the cars.
Make sure you run along well-lit roads will help you be seen and staying safe. I tried a run out last year during dusk, mostly along busy roads (on the pavement) but in one place the pavement dipped away from the road, through a field and across an old railway line, and I didn’t feel safe being out of sight of the cars.
When you are crossing a road (I feel like this is a green cross code lesson now)- don’t assume that cars slowing down have seen you- it might be for something else- make sure you cross at traffic islands or proper crossings. And even if the light is red for cars and green for you, still look. I seriously have seen sooooo many cars drive through red lights and each time I am so relieved that I looked before crossing.
Make sure you stay on the pavements- I know some people run on roads, facing the traffic etc, but I just think when it is dark then it is really not safe.
Telling someone where you are going is always a good idea, and taking a mobile phone with you (tucked away in a hidden pocket) is also a good idea.
I think running in early evening, when there are loads of people about, is much better than late on. Near me there are loads of big office buildings and bus stops, and between 5 and 6.30 it is full of people walking to the bus stops, and the roads are busy with cars, so it feels safer. No doubt after around 6.30/7pm the street are desserted and it would not feel particularly safe any more.
I also try to change my route, so I avoid underpasses and alleyways and things like that.
Having no earphones in, or having them turned down extremely low so you can hear people around you would also be safer.
Running with a friend or a running club is also a good idea (though not always possible).
Taking some kind of alarm (I suppose more for women really) would also be a good idea.
I have read before not to become too much a creature of habit- that is doing the same route at the same time on certain days, just in case someone takes extra interest.
Lastly- if you see anything in the local paper of interest, then perhaps alter your running habits (we had a spate of attacks at around 6am last year, so I made sure I didn’t go out at that time, and if I was to, I would avoid those areas).
Gosh that is a lot of things we runners need to think about! I used to belong to the gym, but there was a 15 minute time limit on all cardio machines, and there was always a queue for the treadmills anyway, so its not an option now, and wasn’t really an option then, but I suppose if you belong to a gym then finding quieter hours to use the treadmills there would be a good idea.
I hope I have included the tips from everyone that commented- thanks again for some really useful advice. Running in the dark can be done, we just have to take some sensible precuations.
Happy winter running everyone 🙂