Last Updated: December 19th, 2020
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Attacks on runners are not unheard of.
If you are planning to run in the dark then the below tips can be life-saving for you.
Below I’ve provided 21 tips for running in the dark which I’ve gather from my experience and from my local runner pals.
If you still don’t feel safe, you can carry some personal safety devices especially made for women runners.
They will keep you prepared to deal with any unpleasant situations.
Now without further ado, let’s begin.
1. Wear bright-colored clothes
Image Curtsy: owayo.com
When you are running in the dark, especially in a high trafficked area, you need to be easily visible from a distance.
If you do so, you will be visible to any vehicles coming your way.
This will give them enough time to maneuver around you and you will be easily able to avert any accident.
Colors that are visible from a distance are:
- Neon colors
- Aqua, etc.
You can use any bright color of your choice.
However, stay away from colores like, black, grey, deep blue, deeper shades of green or any other dark colors.
2. Reflective gears
What if you have suddenly made a decision to run in the dark?
You have a couple of days until you start and you don’t want to spend a lot of new clothes.
Here is the easiest and the most cost-effective option.
Use a reflective gear.
They shine immediately when light falls on them making you visible instantly.
They work perfectly even in low light conditions and can be life-saving at a fraction of cost.
For example, BESEEN LED Arm Band will cost you one-fourth of any running jacket and will still keep you perfectly safe.
Another option that is gaining rapid popularity is Trace360 which comes with optical fibers. They are lightweight and ultra visible.
However, this option is a bit more expensive but is totally worth it.
If you are runner who frequents in the dark, this may be ideal option for you.
These vest remain illuminated on their own and all the time. They are not dependent on light falling on them.
3. Use a headlamp
Image Curtsy: roadrunnersports.com
Reflective gears are one thing and probably one of the most important lifesavers.
However, they will not illuminate the path when there is minimal to low light.
Your only option then is to rely on a good headlamp.
Headlamps are very inexpensive and very high lumens ones are also available at below $15 bucks.
For example, the below Rechargeable Headlamp comes with 6000 lumens with 4 lighting modes, including strobe.
However, it costs near to the above price and is long-lasting. Also, it is water-resistant.
No products found.
It illuminates the road ahead and helps you avoid any potholes.
Also, it makes you visible to on-coming traffic and is good for avoiding accidents.
4. Stop playing the battery game
The only issue with a headlamp is it can die on you in the middle of the run.
And most of us are aware of that.
So, what do we do?
We indulge in the battery saving game.
We constantly play, with the brightness and different modes available just to extend the battery life a little bit.
However, it has potentially two problems:
First, it hardly saves any battery.
Second, it diverts your attention from your run and that can give rise to a serious problem.
Carry a backup light.
If you feel that flashlights are bulky, you can always use knuckle lights.
And if you want a more hands-free option, you can always use a chest lamp like ALEVECO LED Chest Lamps.
These are also fairly inexpensive and will not burn a hole in your pocket.
Plus, everyone will be able to see you and you will be able to avert accidents.
5. Keep all your lamps charged
This seems to be no brainer.
However, most of us forget to charge our headlamps or other lights related to running.
Then when we are on the run, we start playing the battery saving game.
The result is obvious, we are standing in the middle of the road with our headlamps turned off.
We are forced to cut short our run and have to head back home, utterly frustrated.
However, it’s easy to do it, if you piggyback it with you running.
Keep the lamp charger, near to your door.
The moment you enter your home put the lamp on charging.
This will take a couple of days conscious effort, however, then it will become effortless.
Also, you will not run into the situation of ‘out-of-charge’.
6. Ditch the headphones
When you are out in the dark, you need all your senses to be working for you.
You need to be very alert to your surroundings.
However, if you use a headphone or an earphone, you cannot hear anything that is going on in and around you.
Also, it is very easy to get into the zone and let go of any alertness.
What happens then?
You open yourself up for potential dangers.
What can you do instead?
Just ditch your earphones and leave them at home.
If you must listen to music while you run, keep the volume low and wear it only in one ear.
This way you will be able to hear whatever is going on in your surroundings and can take immediate action if needed.
7. Carry Road ID, Cellphone and Cash
An emergency may hit anytime.
You should be able to deal with it then and there.
God forbid if you suddenly lose your consciousness or something unforeseen happens…people around you will take you to the hospital.
However, they will not know, whom to contact or what is your medical condition or allergies.
Wearing a Road ID like the one below can help to avert this situation.
Last update on 2021-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The same goes for your Cellphone and cash.
If you need to call someone to help your cellphone must be with you.
Also, ready cash will help you to escape a situation in a taxi almost immediately.
8. Hold the cellphone in your hand
You are out for an early morning or a night run.
Suddenly you need to call someone due to some emergency.
Every second counts…
You have to unzip your armband take out your phone and make the call…
In the process, you lost a lot of precious time.
Instead, hold the cellphone in your hand and run.
It will save a lot of time during emergencies.
9. Know your running route beforehand
Running on the same route, again and again, is hellishly boring.
So what do we do?
We switch it up.
It also provides you with additional safety as we will see later.
However, if you have not researched the route properly, during early mornings or during late nights, it can be dangerous.
But how to research?
First of all, as was mentioned in this article, if there are any known incidents that happened on that route.
If so, what kind of measures have been taken?
How is the neighborhood?
Is it safe for a woman to venture out there during dark hours?
If possible drive through the route after sunset with a buddy.
This will give you a feel of how that place is after sundown.
If it is not deserted and there are a lot of people, then you should add that route to your list.
Else, skip it.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
10. Avoid deserted areas
If you call for help, people should be able to hear from you.
In a deserted area, that is hardly possible.
Even if you scream at the top of your voice, no one will come to your rescue.
Also, a lesser number of bad incidents happen when you run in a crowded area.
If you don’t find a new route or want to stay safe, run in that populated area in a loop.
You will get the help you need in time.
11. Be mindful of your surroundings
You should never let your alertness go.
This will help you to pick up clues about the development of any unpleasant situation.
Also, if you are not aware, you may run into an oncoming vehicle.
If you are mindful, it’s easy for you to spot any vehicle in front of you.
Not only that, you may misstep or accidentally step on a pothole.
Torn ligaments and months of suffering…just because you were not mindful enough.
Pay attention and you will be able to avoid such accidents.
12. Run on the left side of the road facing traffic
Always run on the left side of the road facing traffic. (Not like the above picture)
Adjust it based on your country’s traffic.
You will be able to see oncoming traffic.
Sometimes, drivers don’t pay attention to the road or may miss spotting you.
At that time, you should be able to react quickly.
If you are able to see the oncoming vehicles, jumping off the road will be easier in case the car doesn’t stop on time.
13. Tell someone when and where you are going and stick to it
When heading out at night, tell someone where you are going and how long it will take for your return.
A call or a text will do. While you are at it, let them know the route you are taking.
They should be aware of when to expect you back.
If you somehow extend your run, they will check on you to see if you are safe or not.
Also, some of us have the habit of trying out a different route as we please.
If you are one of them (I’ve been guilty of it), then please don’t.
Unknowingly you are putting yourself in danger.
Also, you will subject your friend and family members to unnecessary anxiety even if you are perfectly safe.
14. Buddy up or join a local runner’s club
It is rightly said that:
There is safety in number.
No matter how cliche this may sound, this is true.
In our language there is a saying:
Eka r boka, somaan kotha…Allow me to explain…
Being alone and being stupid are the same thing…
In an emergency, you may not be able to think straight.
If you are in a group or with your running buddy, you may be able to think of something or device an escape plan.
So, if you are planning running in the dark, join some runner’s club.
15. Be prepared
What if there is no runners club in your locality?
Well, then be prepared.
Arm yourself with pepper spray or a taser (check the law of your state for that).
However, this has a significant disadvantage.
If you are a woman, it is comparatively easy to overpower you by your attacker.
Once he has overpowered you, he will be able to use your weapon against you.
So, you need something which can be strapped to your palm and can be operated extremely easily.
Check out, Grip It pepper spray. It can be strapped to the fingers of your palm and the spraying pin will be just below your thumb.
Last update on 2021-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
It has a spraying distance of up to 25 feet.
I found this to be one of the most secure ways of using pepper spray. You will never lose the grip of it.
16. Carry some water with you
Water will serve a dual purpose.
First of all, it will protect you from dehydration.
Secondly, if you face any minor accidents or fall down, you will be able to clean yourself up.
This will instantly make you feel a bit better and the germs may halt spreading.
17. Vary your route and time
This I’ve touched up in another article…that you should become unpredictable.
Unpredictability adds to your safety.
If your predator cannot predict when and where you will run today, he cannot plan your attack.
You can switch up the routes you have selected and the time you will run.
18. If you don’t feel comfortable, leave
We human beings have safety GPS build right inside us – out gut.
It can sense the unconscious clues of danger from miles away.
Tune into your body…
If your internal GPS is sending you danger signals, just leave.
Don’t reason with it and don’t be curious.
Whether it is right or wrong doesn’t matter…
It sensed the danger and you will obey it. Period.
19. Carry some basic first-aid with you
If you fall down you may not get medical attention immediately.
Also, if it is a minor cut or bruise you can take care of it then and there.
The only thing you need is a small medical kit.
You can create your own.
Keep some band-aid, a small amount of antiseptic lotion and little amount of cotton or gauge.
This will come handy, just in case…
20. Watch the news
Although in the past I used to say, that watching the news is a waste of time…
However, now, I’ve changed my opinion…
It is very important no matter where you run…
You should be aware of any wild animals venturing your running route or not.
If you are running inside the city whether there is any new development happened for which you should avoid that route altogether.
The news is the only source that can provide you with this up to date information.
21. Avoid technical terrains
As was mentioned earlier, light and shadow can play a lot of mind tricks.
It can hide stones and roots and ditches.
Also, unknowingly you may land on some loose surfaces.
This will be a tough situation and it will be very difficult for you to navigate.
Needless to say, your chances of getting injured are wayyyyy higher than in such trails.
It is best to avoid such terrains in the dark.
You can always venture there in the daylight if you want to.
Dangers of running in the dark
We all know that there are dangers of running in the dark.
However, most of us focus only on one aspect of the danger – Humans.
So, here I’m summarizing, the different types of dangers that you may face when you run in the dark:
Human attacks – This is the most common and most dangerous one.
Every year we hear news of joggers being sexually assaulted and murdered by some random strangers.
According to DailyNews, a whopping 43% of female runners are attacked as compared to 4% male runners.
The attacks can range from verbal abuse and catcalling to rape and murder.
Most of the time you will not know your attacker or he will not know you…but that will not stop them from attacking you…
Animal attacks – These are more common on trails than in the cities.
Depending on where you are running you may have to deal with a skunk or bear.
These encounters are unfortunate…however, animals are more well behaved than humans.
They will not attack you until they feel threatened in some way.
Most of the time, maintaining distance and letting them pass maybe your best option.
Insect or snake bites – This is also mostly applicable for trail runners.
Many times they may not be fatal and will leave some irritation in your skin.
However, some snake and insect bites can be fatal. Some of the more poisonous snakes are a rattlesnake, Indian cobra, common krait, Saw scaled viper.
Their availability depends on the part of the world you are in.
For example, Cobra is mostly available in India and is considered to be one of the deadliest snakes.
They can spit venom which is a neurotoxin. This will stop many of your organs to stop functioning, especially your diaphragm.
It will paralyze it causing severe respiratory problems. Also, if this is a King Cobra, then it can stand very tall and can directly strike at your chest or on your head. The survival rate is very low in such cases.
However, these kinds of attacks are rare and in most cases, you will have sufficient time to react and get the antidote.
Potholes and uncovered pits – This is a huge problem when you are living in the cities.
Sometimes I don’t understand whether there are potholes in the roads or roads in the potholes. (lame joke, I swear it sounded way better when I said it aloud in my language).
Anyways, when you are running in the dark, you will not be able to see these obvious pitfalls.
And will end up having sprains or broken bones.
Roots and stones – On the trails it a fascinating play of light and shadow. This will many times camouflage the roots and stones.
They will hide well and will wait for you to trip and fall.
You will return home with bruises and pain.
Claustrophobia – This happens for someone who is afraid of closed spaces. This is also true if you have to deal with pitch dark.
There will be immediate suffocation and choking feeling and you need to see light immediately to be normal.
This can happen on trails on a new moon night. The natural light will be so low that you will feel the darkness covering you like a blanket.
Car sneaking up from behind – This not necessarily is a human attack, however, the driver may not be able to see you.
These situations result in a lot of accidents and at times may be fatal.
Getting lost – If you can’t find your route back to a known place, then it can create a lot of anxiety.
Sometimes you will make very unwise decisions that can further complicate the problem.
These are the times when your GPS or other tracking software can come handy.