If you are an all-year-round runner, the chances are good that you will be pounding the pavements at some point during the dark in the winter months. Whether you jog in the dimness of dawn or dusk, staying safe and visible is more important than ever at this light-starved time of year. Here’s how to achieve this.
Make sure you can be easily seen by others when running during darkness. High visibility clothing that is bright and reflective is ideal in this scenario. Choose hi vis vests, jackets, shorts or trousers for maximum visibility impact. In addition to reflective clothing, make sure your running shoes are equipped to tackle winter conditions.
In addition to wearing high visibility clothing, such as hi vis vests, to make you stand out during dark runs, consider carrying a portable light with you. Lights can be worn as headwear or attached to clothing or backpacks to improve your visibility ahead and ensure you can be safely seen by others.
If you usually prefer running trails off the beaten path, it might be a sensible idea to change your route during winter. Isolated areas are more risky during darkness, and if you get into trouble in any way, there might not be anyone around to help. Stick to more populated, well-lit areas for winter running sessions.
Running and listening to music often go hand in hand for some joggers, but if your ears are tuned into your favourite beats, you can’t properly focus on your surroundings and any hazards lurking nearby. In the darkness of winter, all of your senses need to be on full alert, so ditch the music. If it is company you need on your runs, bring a like-minded running friend along or jog with your dog instead.
Running against the traffic is arguably a sensible suggestion at any time of year, but it is especially important during winter when light levels are poor. By being able to see what is in front of you, you can dodge any oncoming traffic or hazards. If possible, stick to running routes with pedestrian pavements and paths.
Winter darkness isn’t the time to experiment with new running routes, so stick to where you know so you don’t get lost. It is harder to retrace your steps and find your way home when it’s pitch black. For additional security, tell people at home where you’ll be running and always carry your mobile phone with you and some form of identification. Trust your instincts and choose familiar, safe routes. Vary your routines so you aren’t vulnerable to getting attacked by someone who may have been watching you.