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Running In The Dark: 10 Safety Tips + Practical Advice For Your Next Run

As dedicated runners, we yearn for the satisfaction of checking off our daily workouts in our training plans, feeling pleased to have completed our runs, and each day taking another step towards our current goal. 

Whether you wake up at the crack of dawn and hit the pavement or trails to start your day, or are an evening or nighttime runner, working off the stress of a long day, our routine is critical, and we will stop at nothing to get our runs in.

Depending on your schedule, you may end up running in the dark just once in a while, or perhaps you’ll find yourself running in the dark every single day. Whether it’s before the day begins or after the sun goes down, there may be a time when a dark training session will be in your cards. 

If running in the dark is part of your schedule it is critical that you are doing it safely. Taking the necessary precautions can ensure a safe, risk-free run that allows you to enjoy your training instead of stressing abut it.

In this guide, we have compiled 10 top tips for running in the dark to ensure a safe, fun training session.

Ready?

Let’s jump in!

A person running in the dark.

10 Safety Tips For Running In The Dark 

#1: Wear Bright and/or Reflective Clothing  

While running in the dark you want to be visible. Being seen is being safe, and using bright-colored, and reflective clothing is the way to go. 

There are an endless number of running jackets and running shirts in those famous neon green and pink hues, along with other gear covered in reflective material. 

You can choose from a large assortment of running shoes, visors, hats, vests, and belts with reflectors already tied into the design, or you can buy reflective armbands or ankle bands that will provide the same purpose. 

Using bright-colored and reflective clothing and gear will help ensure that you are seen by cars, pedestrians, and other runners and avoid any type of collision.

Related Article: The 7 Best Reflective Running Jackets Of 2022

A person running in the dark.

#2: Run In A Well-Lit Area 

Running in a well-lit area will help you be seen, and help you see where you are going.

Roads with sufficient street lights, town centers that are bright with store lights and signs, or even a public park, track, or stadium that is lit up in the evenings or early mornings can be great options for running in the dark. 

If you can’t count on your surroundings having the ideal amount of light for a safe run, our first tip of wearing reflective and bright clothing is a must, along with our next tip. Carrying a light! 

#3: Use A Headlamp

If you cannot run in a well-lit area, be sure you can light your own path to avoid accidents, trips, and falls. There’s nothing worse than not seeing a small lip in the sidewalk and taking a nose dive on what seemed to be even, flat terrain

If you will be running in the dark often, invest in a comfortable, powerful headlamp that will illuminate your path and let others know you’re coming.

There are endless options to choose from. To help you decide which ones to look at, we have a list of the current five top headlamps of 2022. Take a look here to get an idea of what you should be looking for.

If you don’t have access to a headlamp, there are various options, including knuckle lights, chest lights, clip-on lights, waist lights, or even a good old flashlight. Choose the option that works best for you while running in the dark; just make sure you can be seen and can see

A headlamp.

#4: Plan Your Route In Advance 

When running in the dark, knowing exactly where you are going is vital for your safety. Plan your routes ahead of time, according to the type of workout you have for that specific day. 

Choose routes you are accustomed to running, ones you have previously run during the daytime, to ensure you are familiar with the footing, turns, intersections, and terrain. Be familiar with the general surroundings so you know exactly what to expect.

Ask yourself the following questions when planning your next route for running in the dark:  

  • Is the route safe? (Terrain, general surroundings)
  • Am I familiar with the area?
  • Is the area well-lit? 
  • Do I feel comfortable running in this area?

Feeling comfortable and confident with your route is important to have a successful and safe run.

Two people running in the dark.

#5: Run With A Buddy

For most, running with a buddy is almost always a lot more fun than running alone, but when you are running in the dark, it also makes the experience safer.

Two people dressed from head to toe in neon and reflective gear will be seen much better by cars and other traffic than just one.

Strength in numbers will also be a great advantage for any other unpredictable risks. If you can run with one other person, great, but if you can run with a whole group, even better! 

Understandably, not everyone can train on the same schedule, as most of us are trying to sneak in training sessions whenever we possibly can with our crazy lives and schedules. Therefore, if you can’t run with others while running in the dark, be sure and use our next important tip:

A person on his phone at night on a track.

#6: Use A Tracking Or Location Feature

There are various applications where you can be tracked on your watch or phone in case of an emergency, an example being Strava Beacon. This feature allows you to be tracked by up to three contacts of your choosing throughout your run. 

When you start your run, your contacts will be sent an alert by text message containing a link. They can then click on this link and track your entire run while watching where you are on a map. This is an excellent option for those who find themselves frequently running in the dark, as you can feel assured people will know where you are at all times.

#7: Let Someone Know Where You Are Going

If you don’t have access to any of these applications or don’t run with a watch or phone, be sure to let at least one person know that you are going for a run. Tell them where and when you’ll be running, and the approximate time you’ll be out there, just in case.

A person running in the dark.

#8: Run Against The Traffic 

Even though this is a pretty common safety rule in general, running in the dark makes it even more important. If your route forces you to run on the road because there are no sidewalks or paths available, be sure you run against the traffic.

This way, you will be able to see oncoming cars, trucks, bicycles, and any other vehicles or pedestrians out there.

#9 Stay Aware 

Another general rule when running is to be aware of your surroundings. Running in the dark makes it even more crucial to do so as you need to anticipate and be prepared for any possible problems.

If you can, run without headphones so you can hear absolutely everything around you.

If you absolutely must run with music or your favorite podcast, use only one headphone to leave the other ear free to stay aware of your surroundings. Keep your music volume low enough so that you can clearly hear what’s happening around you. 

Not only do you need to be able to hear what’s happening on your route, but take notice of what’s happening as well. Keep an eye out for anything that doesn’t seem quite right. If you feel something is suspicious, either cross the street or turn around and return the same way you came to avoid any problems.

Even though our next tip isn’t exactly something to do while running in the dark, it can be the best option in some cases.

A person running on a treadmill.

#10: Run Inside 

When in doubt, run inside. 

If you cannot follow these tips due to your location, timing, or gear, decide to run inside under these circumstances. 

If you have access to a gym with a treadmill or can set up your own treadmill at home, you’ll have nothing to worry about. 

Of course, almost all of us would prefer to run outside, get some fresh air, and be stimulated by our outdoor surroundings. However, your safety should always come first, so if you have to make the sacrifice and run inside, do it, but make it fun. Put on a movie you’ve been dying to see or crank up those tunes to get your adrenaline pumping. 

Follow these 10 tips the next time you find yourself running in the dark as staying safe will help you relax and enjoy your run. 

One of the most important tips for me is ensuring someone knows where you are in case of any kind of emergency. It may not even be because something truly dangerous has occurred, as it could just be a twisted ankle that has left you limping along the side of road. Bringing your charged phone along and using running apps is a great way to stay connected.

For a list of running apps that can help you plan routes and set up location services, check out our guide to the 9 Best Apps For Runners.

A person running in the dark with a headlamp on.
Photo of author
Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community, she is known for her ear-to-ear smile, even under the toughest racing conditions. She is a UESCA-certified running coach and loves sharing her knowledge and experience to help people reach their goals and become the best runners they can be. Her biggest passion is to motivate others to hit the trails or road alongside her, have a blast, and run for fun!

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