This is a gross time of year. The days are getting so short that it feels like bedtime at 7pm. This creeping darkness makes it hard to motivate myself to run in the evenings. Worse still is the fact that I don’t see well in the dark. I never have. As a result, I haven’t been running very much lately! But I have a 10K race in just over week so I need to get out there.
On the plus side, this time of year allows me to dig into the depths of my running wardrobe and reunite with some long-forgotten winter running gear. But winter running calls for more than a well-coordinated outfit. Here are a few tips to keep you safe this season as you shift to running in the dark.
1. Ditch the headphones. Winter running calls for a little more awareness than other times of year so leave your music at home. This will ensure you’re not caught off guard by people, animals or traffic. Peeing yourself in terror because an off-leash dog scared the shit out of you is a great way to ruin a run.
2. Wear some lights. This is my favourite tip because there are so many great accessories for running in the dark to help you light up the streets and keep you visible. I LOVE the Nathan light spurs. These attach to the heels of your shoes and while running, they’re hard to miss. They can glow a consistent green or flash.
I also love the Million Mile Light. These are a battery free safety light for runners that’s powered by motion. They only light up with the specific motion of running, not walking. You can also get a headlamp, though that does have the tendency to blind oncoming cyclists or other runners.
3. Wear bright or reflective clothing. A high visibility vest, or running clothing with reflective accents is perfect. Most outdoor winter running gear will have plenty of reflective elements built-in. If not, make sure you are at least wearing bright colours. You may feel like a ninja in black head-to-toe lycra, but you’ll feel slightly less badass when you get hit by a car.
4. Run with a friend. You know what they say: safety in numbers. It’s true. Try to avoid the solo night runs this winter. There are plenty of excellent running clubs in London so why not try one out. Friends + safety. It’s a win-win.
5. Pick a well-lit route. Unless I can sneak away for lunch time runs, this may mean that I have to stay off my beloved Regent’s Canal for a while. Well-lit routes are rarely the prettiest or most scenic, but they are the safest. Best to keep on the beaten path this winter.