Though running at night is not ideal as it does pose higher risks to your safety, people run at night all the time. If you are having trouble sleeping, are trying to avoid late-night snacking, or you only have time to run at night, you need to be prepared so that you can stay safe.
Here are 16 tips for running at night – Safely:
Wear Bright Colors
Wearing brightly colored clothes like florescent yellow and green will help you to be visible to drivers and other people who may be out late. If you are going to run at night, one of the best things you can do to be safe is to make sure you can easily be seen.
Even if you are running in a park, wearing bright colors helps others to know that you are another human and not a wild animal. Get you some brightly colored running clothes, or you can invest in some wearable reflectors so that you can protect yourself by making your presence known.
Don’t Wear Headphones
Wearing headphones or earbuds (check out my review on earbuds) is a necessity for a lot of people when working out or going on runs. Listening to music to get pumped up, listening to a podcast, or even reading an audiobook are common practices. If you are going to run at night, it is best to leave the headphones at home.
This is because you need to be aware of your surroundings. You need to listen to vehicles, other people, and even animals that you may encounter. If you cannot hear them, you are an easier target. Save your music, podcasts, and audiobooks for indoor workouts, or at least those done during the daytime, for optimal safety when running at night.
Run Against Traffic
If you are running on a street, make sure you are running towards the cars. In other words, run the opposite direction that the cars are driving. This allows you to see oncoming cars, in case they don’t see you. That way, you can get out of the way if you need to. Obviously, if there are sidewalks it’s ok to walk or run in either direction on the sidewalk.
Get a Running Buddy
Safety in numbers is almost always true. Especially when you are doing something at night, if possible, get a running buddy. Even if you run with a few feet of space between you and in total silence, having another person around you will help to ward off potential attackers.
Run in the Light
If you are going to run at night, choose a well-lit location; places like the boardwalk by the beach, a public park with lots of lights, or a neighborhood with streetlamps that stay on all night. Again, if you are visible to other people and drivers, you are safer.
Wear Reflective Clothing
There are so many choices of running clothes nowadays, and some are actually meant to be worn at night. Reflective Shoes, Clothing, Hydration Packs, Socks, Armbands, Running vests all have reflective options to choose from. The way the reflective material works is when light is shown directly on the reflective material, it reflects an array of light that can be seen by the non-runner. Cars are far more likely to see a light reflection off your running gear rather than a non-reflective neon yellow shirt. Not only does the reflective clothing trump bright colors, although you should still wear bright colors, the reflective material can also be seen from a further distance.
Light Yourself Up Like A Christmas Tree
To absolutely make sure that cars can see you throw on some LED lighting to make you stand out that much more. Also, you can throw on a headlamp or a waist lamp to give yourself that much more light to run and to be more easily seen. Running vests and ankle clips also have LED light options so that you can be seen from all directions including the rear. There are also clip-on blinking LED lights that you can clip to various clothing for added bling effect.
If you celebrate Christmas and it’s the holidays, you can always throw on some battery-operated Christmas lights and look like a running Christmas tree – your choice of course!
Avoid Running Just Before Sunset
Even though you’ve put on bright colors, donned reflective running gear, and you’re lit up like a Christmas tree, cars still might have trouble seeing you during the last hour up until sunset. The sun has just enough light during sunset so that your reflective materials don’t give off much of a reflection. Also, many cars don’t have their headlights on until after the sun sets – thus no reflection on your gear. Your better off waiting until twilight or dusk which comes after the sun actually sets (When it’s darker).
Avoid Dangerous Areas
If you know that an area is known for crime or is not even considered safe during the day, avoid it when you are going for a run at night. If you are new to an area or are unsure of whether specific areas have higher crime rates, you can easily search for that information online.
Just look for something like “crime in (insert location),” or you can search for more specific crimes like muggings or things of this nature. Do your research, be aware, and stay safe.
Related: How To Stay Safe When You Run
Ideally, you will not need something like Mace to protect yourself, but it is better to be prepared in case you do find yourself in need of something for self-defense. Small cans of Mace can easily be tucked in a waistband or slipped in a pocket so that you can easily access it if you need it.
Make Eye Contact with Drivers
If you are crossing the street while running at night, make eye contact with the drivers of vehicles you may encounter. If the driver makes eye contact with you, you know that they have seen you.
Carry Your Phone
You may or may not usually run with your phone, but you need to carry your phone if you are running at night. If an emergency occurs and you need to call for help, it is better to have it than not. If you don’t want your phone disrupting your run, put it on do not disturb.
Use a Run Tracker
Use a run tracker either on your smartwatch or on your phone, and let a family member or friend know your username. This will give the police something to track if something happens to you. With GPS tracking your run, police will have more information and know where to start looking. Ideally, they don’t need this, but it is better to be prepared.
Be Mindful of Your Surroundings
Pay attention to what is happening around you. Yes, it is okay to go for a run to clear your head or to think about things that are keeping you from sleeping, but you still need to be mindful of your surroundings.
Watch Out for Dogs and Wild Animals
Stray dogs are not necessarily dangerous, but you should be aware of them and any other wildlife you may come across while running so you can avoid them. If you leave them alone, they will probably leave you alone.
Only Run Familiar Areas At Night
Let’s say you’re out of town and you need to log some miles but you have no idea where to run. Don’t go for a run where you aren’t familiar with the layout or environment. You’re better off finding a 24-hour gym and hitting a treadmill where you can pay a fee to run for an hour in safety.
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