Staying safe in the dark

Man it is dark out there now.

When I got home from work (this was about 5pm) it was so dark, and as I was going out for a run it meant I could try my new super cool high-viz running vest.

You get the idea 🙂 I did about 4.5 miles in 45 mins, so I kept it pretty speedy- but I had quite sore shins when I got home. Hmmm. Cue lots of stretching. The vest was good though- stayed in place (my big Ikea one keeps coming undone as the velcro is a bit old now and it flaps all over the place), and as it is like a string vest it did not make me overheat or anything.

Anyway I was pondering running in the dark, and how to stay safe. I did a post last year and I was thinking of more things to add. I was also chatting briefly to Bronagh about keeping warm/ running in the dark on Friday (she popped around to pick up her prizes- very exciting to have my first mini blogger meet!).

I think staying safe has lots of meanings;

  • Staying seen by traffic.
  • Seeing the roads/ surface you are running on.
  • Being safe personally.
  • Keeping warm.

Being seen

First of all you need to be seen by traffic- this is so important (when I drive in my car I realise just how hard it is to see pedestrians, whereas when you are out in the street lights it does not seem as dark I don’t think). So bright clothes, those little reflective snap bands on your wrists, cool yellow hats- just don’t wear all black!

Cross roads at sensible places (I always run on the pavement, never the roads) and make sure if cars are slowing down, it is because they have seen you and not because it is coming up to a junction and they are looking up the road. Make eye contact with the drivers!

Even if the green man is showing, still look! I see so many cars go through red lights (and in the dark they are less likely to see you). So be cautious.

Seeing the roads/ pavements

I stick to places lit by street lights- I have a few routes that I have discounted now that it is dark, because they are unlit and I cannot see the ground, which is super weird.

You could get a head torch if you have to run on un-lit roads.

Being personally safe

First up, know your area. There was some stuff in the local paper a while back about a flasher (up by the old railway line) and so I would not run there at any time, but certainly not now it is dark.

I like to run around a local park, and in the summer it is full of people fishing, walking dogs, running, walking etc, but in the winter it is deserted. Plus it is not lit and a long way from the roads.

Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back- if you live alone you could text a friend when you leave and when you get back. I always leave a note for Andy if he is not back from work.

Consider a personal alarm. I had a free one once, but the toggle thing came out easily and I was worried it would go off while I was running accidentely!

Carry some spare change (in case you need to call for a lift) or a phone. (This is my personal target as I am terrible at remembering mine).

Have some personal ID on you (in case the worst happens and you need a passer by or paramedics). These road ID’s (from are a great idea as you can have medical info as well as contact details on there.

Be aware of your surroundings- if you listen to music then have the sound very low- I can always hear my footsteps.

Don’t always do the same route at the same time (a bit freaky but you never know who is watching).

Stick to busy routes- I like near me as there are people catching buses, leaving work, and lots of cars on the road so I never feel alone. I feel much safer at 5/6 pm than I would at 8pm, so I run as soon as I get home from work (and try to leave earlier on those days).

Join a club, run with a buddy or go to a track.

Keeping warm

Not quite the same, but still important! Plus if you are warm (or not freezing) you are more likely to go out on a run in the first place.

Remember that your body diverts heat from your extremities to keep your organs at the right temperature, so ears, toes, fingers etc get cold quickly.

Last year when it was frosty I would layer up like crazy- tights, capris, shorts, long sleeved top, t-shirt, jacket, gloves, ear warmer…

I suffer from chilblains and was told to only wear one pair of socks- the nurse told me that a lot of people wear lots of pairs of socks but this restricts the circulation more so makes the situation worse. Plus I have to warm up at home for a bit before I get in the shower. So I have thick running socks (they are better for blisters anyway) and layer up your body so your core stays warmer.

Be careful of frosty surfaces! Last year when it was really snowy and icy not many paths were clear, so for a while I made do with a Jillian DVD! But I soon went stir crazy and in the end found 1 mile of free pavement- so I just ran that up and back as many times as I wanted to for my runs. Boring yes, but at least I was not slipping on the ice.

Also if you take water with you, you could make it lukewarm when you leave, so your hands don’t freeze. By the time you go to drink it, it will have cooled anyway. I am sure I read this somewhere but not sure where!

Anything I have missed off?

How do you stay safe when running/ exercising in the dark? 

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17 thoughts on “Staying safe in the dark”

  1. These are all things I have been taken into consideration lately, this running in the dark malarky is new to me! I have a fluro jacket now which I tested out Saturday, but I do worry about personal safety sometimes living in a village, I hardly see anyone when I am about, but theres not much I can do about that! There is a stretch of road I run on that is unlit and deserted, but it makes up a big bulk of my run, so not sure what to do about it! I am considering investing in a head lamp, although there is something quite freeing about running in the pitch black, although I do get a big uneasy sometimes!

  2. Very good reminder post of staying safe, thank you.
    After last weeks run in the dark and only the odd lamppost light out I realised how easy it was to trip on the pavement. Since then I have been looking lovingly at hubbys headlamp he has to go up Kilimanjaro but I may look weird wearing it ?!?!

  3. These are really good tips. I always wear a hi-vis when I go running in the evening now. I mainly go running with my running club when it’s dark, which makes me feel much safer. If I’m one my own I stick to the ring road where there are loads of cars passing all the time and people walking about.
    I’m not looking forward to icy weather as I HATE ice! I have my trusty Jillian DVD though and I might look into joining the gym at work for a while if the weather gets bad for a prolonged period.

  4. These are really good tips. I had the same in that I didn’t realise how invisible I was on my bike till I struggled to see other cyclists. Now, as well as lights and reflectors, I wear a hi-viz vest thing too. Mine’s a random council freebie, yours looks much better!
    I hate the dark though; it’s so unmotivating; I’ve been trying to rid Inka before work because at least there’s some light!

  5. I like to wear my road id and since I live in a state where I’m away from most of my friends and family, I try to remember to text a friend here to let them know I’m running and where so someone will notice if I don’t come back!

  6. Thanks for all the tips! I try to run in the morning, when the sun has just risen, to avoid running at night. Even though I’ve lived in the same neighbourhood practically my entire life and crime’s pretty low, I’m still super cautious.

  7. Great post.
    If you take your phone with you, you can also have ICE as a contact (In case of emergency). Apparently ambulance crews know about this and can ring your next of kin if you’re in trouble. Similar to the road ID I guess but free 🙂

  8. My vest thing was only £6 from Sweatshop, and I had a £5 voucher so £1 well spent I think! 🙂
    Shaman I have heard of the ICE thing before- my Dad emailed it to me I think! Need to put in a number on my phone. I suppose so long as you don’t have a pin number for your phone then the crew could find it.
    Lara- you may look weird with a head torch, but better that than you twist your ankle (or worse) and are out for weeks.

  9. These are excellent tips! I’m really hoping on running as long as possible outside this year and I really must get some high vis gear, carry some ID and money, I often imagine worse case scenarios but rarely ever plan for them! I’ve just ordered some new thermal running gloves and a new wide head band to cover my ears so I’m hoping that will help! Oh – had one of your pumpkin cakes this morning for breakie – delicious!

  10. Great tips Maria 🙂 I’m really reluctant to switch my runs from outdoors to the treadmill as I find running in the gym so boring, but this means doing all my runs after work in the dark :-/ I already take my phone and have a couple of pound coins stashed in my running tight pockets for emergencies, but safety in the dark is definitely something I should be more aware of. I guess we’re quite lucky in Hatfield in that there are plenty of well-lit pavements around the business park so we can always just run around there endlessly and still feel quite safe!

    I also want to add another big thank you for the goodies I picked up on Friday. I’m saving the cereals for when my current box is finished but I’m really looking forward to trying the granola. Your brownies were by far the best choc brownies I’ve tasted (and boyfriend-approved too!) I was going to freeze a couple for treats later on but they’ve already all been eaten! Thank you again 🙂

  11. Nicole- good plan!
    Bronagh- thanks for that 🙂 Glad you liked them- we will have to meet up again properly! And yes you are right the business park is at least well lit and busy so pretty safe I think.
    Laura- thermal gloves sound good. Glad you like the pumpkin cake too 🙂

  12. I find it really scary to run in the dark, and last year I avoided it entirely by running during my lunch break. This year, so far, I’ve kept to running on busy, populated roads, with lots of people, and not running after 8pm. Also, I can’t find the link right now, but I’ve seen these water bottles with built-in storage space for keys/money/id, which I think is a great idea.

  13. I used to have a bottle like that (it was a Nathan one) but it is past its best now. Lunch hour running is also a great idea- something I did not consider as I would not be able to do it- I forget that other people can!

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