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.
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 www.RoadID.com) 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.
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?