by Mbio Staff December 19, 2018


"It's downright disturbing." That's the reaction of Richard Retting, author of a report on pedestrian safety for the Governors Highway Safety Association. He was reacting to the statistic that 5,984 pedestrians in the USA were killed by motor vehicles in 2017.

Running at night might be part of your training schedule but it can be dangerous! What can you do to reduce the risks? Read on to learn 10 tips for a safe and effective night run.

Why Are You Running at Night?

While running at night may have certain risks associated with it, that doesn't mean that it is always more dangerous than running during the day. There are many variables to consider. It's not helpful simply to say don't run at night.

For many people, a night run is their only running opportunity. If you have a busy schedule including child or elder care responsibilities night time might be the only time you have for running. If your working life means you work nights you may have to fit in your running around a more nocturnal lifestyle.

A hot climate can make daytime running much less attractive. Running in the cool of the night is a better option. For some insomnia sufferers, taking a run at night is more attractive an option than incessant restless tossing and turning in bed.

If religious observance of fasting during daylight hours means that blood sugar levels are low during the day, running at night may be preferred. This means food can be taken well before running and after running without breaking the fasting rules.

In short, there are many reasons why running through the night may be right for you. The important thing is to take sensible precautionary measures to ensure your safety. That way you can get all the benefits of running, avoid harm and enjoy the experience too.

1. Prioritize Safety

Runners have many reasons for running. Very often a key reason is related to health and fitness. It is self-defeating to put your health and fitness at risk when some simple precautions can be taken.

Being conscious that there are safety hazards when running at night helps reduce their potential to harm you. Make proper preparations for running, follow the guidance, and stay vigilant throughout. The normal running safety rules apply but be aware that the consequences of getting it wrong are often increased at night.

A thorough warm-up, the right shoes, and clothing, proper hydration and running within your capability are normal considerations for any training run. Pay special attention to them when running at night. Prioritize your safety.

2. Follow the Light

The main hazard at night is lack of light. Finding well-lit routes to run is one way of reducing the risks associated with running at night. Having a well-lit route provides a number of benefits.

Being able to see where you are placing your feet reduces the likelihood of trips, slips, and falls. These incidents are common causes of injuries and can put you out of action for long periods while you recover.

Better lighting also means you are more visible to others. Motor vehicles and others are less likely to collide with a clearly visible runner than one hidden in the shadows. There are some things you can do to improve your visibility but there is no substitute for better overall lighting.

Dark places and poorly lit streets are more attractive to people who may want to attack you. Being visible to others is a deterrent to would-be attackers. Seek out the light and places where you will be able to see other people and be seen by others.

3. Loop It Up

Let's face it, the scenery on a night run is not generally that special. After all, it's dark. Having a scenic route is not the priority.

Instead, choose a route that suits a night time run. Better still work out a circular route that you can do multiple times as needed. Better to run twice around a two-mile route than once around a four-mile route.

If you need to stop it's so much easier if you are never more than a mile from home. Let friends or family know your route. If an emergency happens, they can find you easily.

4. High Visibility Clothing

The range of reflecting clothing available for runners is huge. A reflective vest is the minimum level of safety clothing you need. You can also get armbands, neon clothes, reflective shoes and more.

Aim to attract attention. You should light up like a beacon when caught in the headlights of a car. Light colored clothes will complement the reflective safety gear.

5. Use Your Head Light

Other road users should not have to rely on shining a light on you and getting a reflection. You should also have your own light source. This will make you visible and also light your way in the dark.

A head torch built into a headband will provide a stable and effective light for running. It will light your way to make sure you don't run into anything and will help you find a safe surface to run on.

LED lights can also be built into a running vest or a waist belt. Clip-on lights can attach to running shoes or clothing. Lights which shine white in front and red behind offer greater protection still.

6. Rest Your Tunes

One of the great pleasures of running is listening to your running playlist while you run. You plug in your headphones and switch off from life for the duration of the run and tune into some great music. For some, this is a time to catch up on your favorite podcasts or the radio.

When you are running at night you need your wits about you. If your visibility is reduced you must use your other senses to compensate. That means being able to hear what's going on around you.

Don't inhibit your hearing by listening to music or wearing headphones. Keep listening for vehicles, other people and potential hazards while running. Save the tunes for daytime running only.

7. Manage Your Carb Intake

Unless you are in a regular routine of running at night and build your lifestyle around this take some time to consider your nutrition. Daytime running generally fits into your normal eating pattern. You don't eat just before running and you replenish the expended energy by eating after running.

Night time running regimes may also need some thought about eating times. Make sure you have eaten enough prior to running to supply the energy you will need. Snacking or meals should not be too close to the running time.

Plan your run so that you can have a meal or at least a snack soon after your run is complete. Take the same care over your hydration. Don't assume you can run at night and maintain normal daytime eating habits.

8. Head into Traffic

When running near traffic follow these simple rules of road running. If there is a sidewalk, use it. If there is no sidewalk, always run against the direction of traffic.

This maximizes your visibility to the traffic but also means you will be aware of oncoming traffic. It's hard to be aware of vehicles and their relationship to you if they are approaching you from behind. Don't rely on drivers seeing you from behind.

9. Do It Together

Running with other people can be a great experience. It helps with motivation and increases the sense of fun and even mutual challenge. More than this, it's safer to run in the company of others.

In the event one of you gets into trouble the other can call for help or even fetch it. Two runners, properly dressed, are more visible than one. Two people are a greater deterrent to an attacker than a lone runner.

10. Carry Identification and Your Phone

In the event that something happens, you should have the resources to do something about it. Having a phone is a useful way of calling for help. Make sure that you are running in an area that has a signal and that your phone has a full charge.

A smartphone is an attractive target for a would-be thief. When you take a phone running with you don't flaunt it. Keep its use to a minimum and keep it well hidden.

If you do have an accident, it may be useful for someone to identify you and contact loved ones. Carry some identification including details of someone to contact in the event of an accident.

Keep up the Night Run

For all the risks of running at night, a night run is preferable to no run at all. The beneficial effects of running for cardiovascular health, psychological health and general wellbeing are well known. Be sensible, have fun and keep the night run in your schedule.

To learn more about how running can change your life, click here

Mbio Staff
Mbio Staff

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