About 50 million people in the United States today run or jog — and with good reason. Going for a run is one of the best things that you can do for your health and well-being. It’s excellent for your cardiovascular health, toning your body, and producing positive endorphins that enhance your mood.
One of the most peaceful ways to enjoy a run is at night. However, the limited visibility means that there are some added safety precautions to be aware of.
These tips will help you master running at night while staying safe and sound.
Get the Right Clothing
- 1 Get the Right Clothing
- 2 What to Pay Attention To
- 3 Plan With Safety in Mind
- 4 Focus on Your Health and Safety
- 5 A Crash Course in Running at Night
First and foremost, you need to make sure you’re dressed for the occasion. Finding the right clothing is always the first order of business when planning out your run.
Here are the main points to keep in mind when it comes to selecting your nighttime running wardrobe:
Dress in Bright Colors
Visibility should be your highest priority when running at night. The easier it is for drivers to see you, the less likely they are to hit you. Wearing dark clothing can make it difficult for people to see you, and can cause confusion since you’re steadily moving.
Wear white, yellow, light green, or other bright clothing colors to avoid this as much as possible. Dress in these colors from head to toe to leave no room for doubt.
Get a Reflective Vest
Next, it might also make sense to purchase a reflective vest to go with your wardrobe. Reflective clothing makes you shine even more brightly and makes it virtually impossible for a driver or anyone else to not see you.
There’s a reason that road workers always wear reflective clothing, and the same applies to people going out and getting some exercise at night. Bright clothing matched by a reflective vest can help improve your visibility. Buy a vest that fits comfortably so that you don’t have a problem running in it. Make sure that the materials are durable and easy to wash.
Consider Buying a Light
Always stock up on additional equipment that can offer you more visibility. You can buy some light accessories that you can wear to make certain that drivers and other runners see you.
These accessories have bright LED lights attached to them. Many come with options for blinking patterns and colors. Some of the lighted clothing accessories that you can purchase include helmets and other headgear, lighted vests, and even lights for your shoes. This added touch can keep you safe and sound while you run.
Wear Durable and Comfortable Shoes
You need footwear that can keep you stable and vigilant. Your shoes need to bear the possibility of having to quickly maneuver out of danger, the possibility of stepping on an object that you couldn’t see, rain, potholes, and other conditions.
The quality of running shoes that you wear has as much to do with your safety as anything. Make sure they’re breathable, crafted with quality materials, and reinforced for comfort and protection. They should be a comfortable fit and should be tough enough to brave the elements.
Give yourself time to shop for the best running shoes in your budget. Look for brands that cater specifically to runners to know that your shoes are made by a company that understands the conditions that runners face. Try your shoes on first, if possible, or shop with an online store that has a customer-friendly return policy just in case.
Buy some shoes that last for a long time so that you can put the miles in and embrace the activity that you love.
Bundle Up If Necessary
Temperatures can go from comfortable to frigid quickly at night time. It’s often best to bundle up so that you don’t get caught in the cold by surprise. Find a jacket that you can slide on whenever you go on your night runs.
You can layer up underneath the jacket with a long-sleeved shirt on top of a t-shirt or compression shirt. This provides extra layers while still letting you move freely and fluidly. Keep in mind that your body will heat up as you run, so don’t overdo it with the layers.
Feeling a bit of a chill is fine, but bundling up will prevent you from getting bitterly cold.
What to Pay Attention To
You need to keep your head on a swivel when you’re out running by yourself at night. This will help you anticipate and respond to any situation that comes your way.
Here are some of the tips that you’ll need to keep in mind:
Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
Remaining aware of your surroundings is fundamental to running safety. Keep your focus and remain aware of your peripheral vision, taking note of everything that you see. Anticipate poor road conditions, odd behavior from strangers, and the traveling patterns of vehicles.
When you’re aware of your surroundings like this, it’ll improve your decision-making and allow you to keep yourself safe. Make mental notes as often as possible and recognize patterns.
Anticipate the Moves of Drivers
Part of staying aware of your surroundings involves anticipating what other drivers do. So, how can you do that effectively? First, use street striping, intersection patterns, signage, and traffic lights to guide you as you run. Always make sure that you’re running in a pattern that would make it easy for drivers to see you.
This makes it easier to anticipate their traffic patterns so that you can stay out of the way. For instance, you might approach a crossing intersection where drivers in the direction facing you must yield the right of way before making a left turn.
When drivers are busy waiting for other vehicles to pass so they can turn, it’s not uncommon for them to go as soon as they’re all clear, without considering pedestrians. Drivers might also run red lights or roll through stop signs.
As you run, always make provision for these kinds of mistakes and oversights. That way, you can leave as much space as you need to or can wait for eye contact and acknowledgment from the driver before crossing. It’s better to be prepared and act accordingly, rather than trusting every driver to take the correct actions.
Only Run in Designated Areas
It’s also important that you limit your running to designated or safe areas. Never run in the street, and when possible, run with the traffic in front of you so that you can see the driver approaching. Only run in the jogging lane if the area designates one. If you are running along a curb or crosswalk, leave enough room to avoid pedestrians.
Staying in areas where running is conducive will help you avoid unpredictability and danger. Many localities set aside space for runners so that they can move freely and without being disturbed. Be mindful of any signage that prohibits running in any particular area.
Run in Well-Lit, Populated Locations
You’ll also improve your visibility when you stick to well-lit areas. If you live in the city, consider running in populated neighborhoods or well-lit downtown or shopping areas. Not only are these areas well-lit, but they are also populated. You’re less likely to run into danger in areas where there are a lot of witnesses and help available.
Running in well-lit, populated locations will also make it easier to get help if you fall and hurt yourself, or experience any other health or medical issue. It’s also easier for emergency personnel to arrive and respond when you’re in these types of areas.
Don’t Have Your Headphone Audio Too Loud
For many people, headphones and running go hand in hand. There’s nothing like going for the runner’s high while zoning out to some music or a good audiobook. However, make sure not to zone out too much so that you’re fully aware of your surroundings.
You are more likely to be caught by surprise when you’re in your own world. Buy headphones that won’t shut the world out too much, keep your volume levels reasonable, and don’t get so immersed in what you’re listening to that you’re not aware of what’s happening in your environment.
Plan With Safety in Mind
There are also plenty of safety tips you can put into play before you even leave your house. Planning will get you ready for your run and will protect you as you engage in it.
Consider these planning tips to help you in advance:
Keep Your Phone Charged
Make sure you’re always connected and reachable. This starts with keeping your phone charged. Many people use their run as a private sanctuary to get away from the noise of the world. Bring your smartphone even if this is your MO. It’s better to have the phone charged and off, but ready to make a call if you need to.
Having your smartphone handy will also let you take pictures or gather other evidence if you happen to get into an accident or any other incident. Charge your smartphone to 100% before leaving the house so that you’re able to do this.
Let Someone Know You’re Going
Send a quick message to someone you know and trust and let them know that you’re going for a run. Get into the habit of also sending a follow-up message when you get back. By sending these messages, you’ll have someone aware of where you’re going and who can check back on you to make sure everything went smoothly.
Reaching out to this person will help you get quicker help if necessary, and it can protect your health and well-being as a whole.
Map Out Your Course in Advance
Make sure you know where you’re running before you head out. This way, you can check on the road conditions and develop some familiarity.
Charting out your run lets you know exactly where you’re going, what route you’re taking, and how many times. You’ll operate with more deliberateness in your run when you know exactly where you’re going. That will prevent wandering, getting lost, ending up in bad neighborhoods, or getting disoriented during your run.
Learn Street Names and Landmarks
Orient yourself at every point of your run by knowing where you are and what intersection you’re crossing into. Collecting landmarks as you travel lets you know where you are at all times. And if you’re familiar with the area, you’ll also know where you’re headed.
Being able to recall these sorts of details can also help you if you happen to get into an accident or other incident. Hiring a pedestrian accident lawyer is more fruitful when you are able to recount the incident and the most important landmarks.
Focus on Your Health and Safety
There are also several running tips you’ll want to keep in mind to make sure that your health is cared for during the run. Stay hydrated, making sure to take in several fluid ounces of water hours prior to running. You may also want to drink a sports drink or coconut water for electrolytes.
If it’s been a long time since you’ve eaten, grab a healthy meal or snack. This will help keep your blood sugar levels steady and will give you the caloric energy you need for your run.
Stretch and warm up first so that you’re less likely to cramp, pull something, or otherwise suffer an injury. Wear braces and other protective equipment if you need it, and pace yourself during the run.
Focus on your stride and breathing so that you can steady yourself and control your body as you run. Learn the proper running technique so that you can enjoy the process and prevent injuries.
A Crash Course in Running at Night
Running at night can be one of the most liberating things you do. However, you need also to manage your safety so that you can enjoy yourself. The tips above will help you avoid danger and injury and should be followed every time you run at night.
Check out our other articles for tips that can help you with your health and fitness.