I thought I’d cover night running in this article because for most of us, we can’t avoid it for a few months of the year at least.
There aren’t many people who are going to put their hands up if I ask, ‘who prefers running in the dark?’. Yet there are some pretty cool advantages if you want to make the best of it.
You need to take some extra safety precautions and know your routes well, but weather permitting you can get some great training in at night.
Here are some of the advantages, safety precautions to be aware of, and reasons why night running may just become your first choice when training going forward.
Benefits of Running at Night
Depending on how you look at it, there are actually some benefits to running at night in the dark.
Admittedly, it’s still not for everyone, but here are some things to think about to make the most of late night running:
Unless you hit the trails away from the bustle of the city when you run I’m sure you’ve been distracted by all the buzz going on in the day.
Being able to focus without interruption is vital to your training and being able to make those small improvements that add up.
There are fewer things to catch your eye when it’s dark, it’s also quieter allowing you to calm your senses and concentrate on your breathing.
Headlights from cars, overhead street lights, and a few night owls should be the worst of what you have to look out for.
Taking into account where you live, how well you deal with different temperatures and weather conditions, cooler temperatures at night might be exactly what you’re looking for.
If you burn easily under the hot sun then this is also going to be a huge advantage. Don’t forget to still take plenty of water however and keep well hydrated.
Keeps Your Runs Interesting
If you’ve been running for some time during the day you’ve probably done everything you can to mix it up and keep it interesting.
Although your focus should be firmly on improving your times, breathing, how you prepare and how well you’re progressing. We’re all susceptible to getting bored if we’re running similar routes and seeing the same sights.
Mixing up night and day runs might give you that little boost of motivation you need with the change of scenery it brings.
It’s a Productive Use of Time
Finding time to get a quality run in when you’re not rushed or thinking about all the other things you should be doing is the biggest challenge for most people who work, have a family, etc.
What are you usually doing in the evening when it’s starting to get dark?
Probably starting to wind down and maybe even relaxing after a long day, especially if you’ve been for an early morning run.
Night running is the only time some people can make for themselves, so if it’s a good time for you, make the most of it.
Running at Night Safety Gear and Tips
Along with the obvious, the main difference between day and night running is safety.
There is a lot more hazards and potential for injury running while it’s dark. The main issues are the lack of visibility, both on your part, and that of others around you.
There is some gear designed to help you out here, and there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re as safe as possible:
Wear Reflective Clothing
There is plenty of reflective clothing designed to make you more visible while running at night. It reflects when vehicle headlights in particular shine onto it and allow motorists to see you very easily.
If you don’t want to wear a top or bottoms that are reflective then you can just use clips that go around your ankle or wrists.
Take a Flashlight
Strap a small flashlight to your arm if you don’t carry a backpack, or you can wear a head torch which is just a small light that wraps around your head.
Either way, while running at night it’s important to have a source of light, especially if you’re running off the main roads with few or no street lamps.
Know Your Route Well
Night time isn’t the best time to start exploring your neighborhood and going down roads you haven’t been down before.
Ideally, you will have run the route in the daylight so you know exactly where you’re going and what to expect. Being aware of any areas that are less than friendly when darkness falls is also a good idea.
Let Someone Know Your Route and How Long You’ll Be
As you would do when going off hiking, let someone know where you run and how long for when running at night.
It’s a safety precaution that will almost never be needed, but it’s also one of the most important things you can do.
Just because temperatures are lower at night it doesn’t mean you can leave home without plenty of fluid.
This is where hydration bladders really come into their own over bottles. You can keep your hands free, run without a backpack, and sip as you run so your focus can be on the road.
Night running can be fun. It’s something a little different, adds some variety to your running schedule and can give you that little motivation boost you may just be needing right now.
I recommend mixing it up with some runs while it’s dark if you have all the bases above covered.
Don’t be put off by all the safety tips, with some forward planning and common sense it shouldn’t be scary to run at night.
Have fun and happy running!