Turning the clocks back brings shorter days and NOT running all winter is NOT an option if you want to avoid being on the 5 o’clock news so let’s talk about running safely in the dark (and the fog since we have had some dreary days here in NC). Since living in Apex I haven’t thought too much about running in the dark. I’m lucky (most of the time) that I can run mid mornings, but when I lived in Greensboro I ran several days a week at 5:15am. I also recently saw two posts on a Facebook running page discussing two incidents where people were running in the dark and not visible to cars or other runners. The good news is there are SO many cool products available to help keep us visible while running in the dark and most are easy and affordable! Let’s take a look.
In Greensboro I ran with a group of about 3-4 people. I honestly didn’t think much about us being visible to others and we weren’t afraid to run on roads, trails, or in neighborhoods. I assumed since we had safety in numbers all was well. While nothing bad ever happened many times our group would spread out so there went the “numbers” and to make matters worse some of us (not naming any names KEVIN) would show up wearing all black! We also all were members or worked at the Y and we had a few concerned members tell us they drove past us running and had trouble seeing us. We finally wised up and started taking precautions for our early runs. The easiest way to do this is with clothing. (Kevin thought the easiest way was to shave his head which would glow under the moonlight or put out a personal steam halo, but for the rest of us I would just recommend a new jacket). Wear the brightest clothing you have and purchase clothing with built in reflectors. I love the shift towards all the super bright running shoes and clothes in the last several years. You can look cool and stay safe at the same time. Try these illuminating capri’s (1) from Under Armour…bonus they will keep you warm as the temperatures dip (it is currently November 6th and 78 degrees, but don’t mind that). Under Armour has a whole line of reflective clothing including gloves and headbands. PUMA also has a reflective clothing and shoe line called Nightcat. I’m really digging this quartar zip running top (5) with built in reflective panels in the sleeves! I’m an Athleta girl myself and they have several options with reflectors too. Another cheap and easy option is to just get a refelctive “vest”. It looks more like suspenders to me, but such an easy way to add visibility. This ONE (2) has great reviews on Amazon and is $12! The other bonus to a vest is it is lightweight and can be worn year round.
Lights and Headlamps
Headlamps are an all around BRILLIANT idea for running! Not only will you be visible to oncoming traffic or people (run against traffic please) you will also be able to see where you are going. This is very important and I will use a couple examples to illustrate this. First, I will tell you a little story about my dad and his running in the dark experience. My dad is my dad. He’s tough and not much can take him down….until he met the “rope” on an early morning run. Dad was running the SAME sidewalks in his neighborhood he’d run or walked many times. This detail is important because even if you run the same boring route day in and day out you can’t take that for granted. I know I would run half asleep for the first few miles or distracted from talking. Anyways, dad is trotting along and then BAM…he’s on the ground. He completely tripped over a small rope about two feet off the sidewalk. Apparently there had been some construction on the sidewalk and he never saw that silly rope! I also think I may have been one of the only one in my old running group to fall at some point. So, don’t be Dad and get yourself a headlamp! Even better, get one that is waterproof so you can run in the rain or not worry about your sweaty head. I stumbled on this post from Monica at RunEATRepeat while I was researching running headlamps. She loves the UK LED Vizion Headlamp (4). Looks like a pretty good deal at around $30.
Other light options include armbands, leg bands, hats, hair bands…..ETC! There are so many options in this category. I have an LED Armband (3) by Night Beams. These are $25 a piece, but I have had mine for years and it still works great. The website suggests wearing one on each arm since you never know what direction a car or other runner will be coming from, and this will help keep you visible for up to a 1/2 mile!
Running in the Fog
It has been so rainy and overcast here in NC lately! One of the posts I saw on a Running page last week specifically suggested wearing bright clothing on a foggy day. She said she almost ran into a walker wearing all gray on a gray morning, but had no problem seeing the women in bright pink up ahead. Think of running in the fog the same as running in the dark just like you would when driving in both conditions.
A few more safety guidelines that are good practice no matter when you run are to always let someone know you are running and where. I do this all the time when I bike, but don’t give the same concern to running even though I should! A Road ID is always a good idea. This has all of your emergency information in case something happens and you can’t communicate (I know scary, but good to be proactive!). Running with headphones. Ugh. This is another one I don’t practice what I preach. I will say if you must have your music try to run with just one earbud in…maybe keep the ear closest to the road earbud free and keep the music low. Best safety advice of all is to run with a friend or group, especially in the early morning or later evening hours. My friends saved me from potholes, dogs, curbs and trees many times!! Stay safe friends and let us know your favorite safety gadgets!