9 top tips for running safely in the dark
Running is a wonderful way to stay active. It’s free, you don’t need much equipment and you can easily fit it around your daily routine.
But with fewer daylight hours (usually when you’re at work), it’s important to take extra care in the winter months.
Whether you're an early morning or evening runner, these top tips will help you stay safe while running in the dark…
1. Choose a familiar, well-lit route
Stick to main road pavements and well-lit areas you know well. That way, the streetlights will keep you visible to traffic and other pedestrians while helping you avoid any nasty surprises. Pick a route you know is properly maintained so you’re sure to be on firm footing - you don’t want a slip, trip or fall to set you back or cause an injury!
2. Wear reflective gear
Invest in highly visible and reflective running gear and accessories. Go shopping and pick up a hi vis vest or jacket (that’ll keep you warm and dry too!) or gear with reflective logos on it. You can also get reflective armbands or even reflective tape for your clothing and shoes. You don’t have to spend a fortune to make yourself more visible to drivers, cyclists and other pedestrians.
3. Use a headlamp or torch
Even well-lit routes will have darker patches so a good quality headlamp or wearable torch is a great investment and you’ll find loads of options that aren’t too expensive. Wear one on your head or strapped across your body, whichever you find most comfortable. It not only helps you see the path ahead but also helps others see you too. Remember to make sure it's charged and ready before you head out. You can also get rear lights too.
4. Leave the headphones at home
Lots of us love listening to motivational music while running but, when you can’t see as well, it’s even more important to hear what’s happening around you. Be vigilant and stay alert to your surroundings so you hear approaching vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians or other potential hazards. Embrace the calming stillness of the dark nights and save your headphones for the day or the gym.
5. Take your phone
You may not be listening to your Spotify playlist but you should still take your phone in case of emergencies. As well as being able to call for help, you can share your location and even guide people to your precise location with apps like what3words. Make sure to keep it somewhere secure and watertight.
6. Watch your step
Take extra care to watch out for icy patches and slippery spots, which can be harder to see in the dark. Footwear is important here too; you’ll want to invest in running shoes with good traction for winter runs. Ensure your shoes are in good condition before you set out. Check the weather forecast too and make sure you’re appropriately layered.
7. Slow the pace
Since it’s harder to spot obstacles or hazards (curbs, loose flags, potholes, ice etc.), it’s safer to go a little slower when running in the dark. So don’t push yourself too hard and instead take the opportunity to take in your surroundings and enjoy the relative calm of a winter’s night.
8. Bring a buddy
Sure, running is a good form of solo exercise but sometimes it’s great to have a running buddy to keep you company. There’s safety in numbers plus you can have a catch-up on the go and keep each other motivated (a little friendly competition never hurt anyone!). Or why not join a group run?
9. Tell someone your plans
If you’re running alone then it’s a good idea to let a friend or family member know your running route and what time you expect to be back. That way, if you’re not back in time, they can give you a call to make sure you’re ok - or check your route to see if you’ve run into any trouble. It’s best to have that safety net in case of an emergency. Varying your routes can also stop anyone predicting your routine.
Want to join a group run? We have regular runs all across Wigan Borough including Couch to 5k for those who are taking their first steps.
To find out more about Be Well and stay up to date with all things health and wellbeing across Wigan Borough, make sure to follow us on Facebook (external link), Instagram (external link) and X (external link).
Posted on Friday 1st December 2023