As my dear husband drove me around town searching for “the perfect hill” for my training, it became apparent that safety concerns were not just on my mind, but on his mind as well. It is getting darker so much earlier, and the mornings are dark so much later. For us working moms, these are the only times to run during the week. And running in the dark is new territory for me!
Last week, I was walking with my mother and a car actually stopped to thank my mom for wearing a reflective jacket. The driver said she would have hit us if it wasn’t for my mom’s reflective wear. In our community, there are many older drivers and a runner is an unexpected scare on the dark country roads.
But then came the real wake-up call. You see, my husband is a Captain in our local Fire Department. Just recently, he had a very scary call. A young woman was hit by a car while running. She did survive, but is in critical care. My husband noted that she was wearing a Lululemon outfit, similar to mine (he knows my wardrobe well!). Unfortunately, the colours were very dark…like many of mine. She wasn’t wearing any reflective clothing. Imagine the surprise to both the driver and runner. Shudder.
This made me think – as a newbie to running, what should a runner consider while running in the dark?
1) A BRIGHT AND REFLECTIVE RUNNING JACKET/VEST
This call has had a tremendous impact on my family. The next day, we were out buying the brightest Saucony running jacket we could find – it is not only neon pink (which, truth be told, was a selling point all on its own!), but it is reflective AND comes equipped with pink LED lights on the breast and back. My sole sister has since picked up the matching jacket so we can light up the night in Disney World – and in the months of training during dark winter runs.
Some runners have told me to purchase a headlamp. Fortunately, my BRF recently pointed me in the direction of a trendy new invention: knuckle lights. Since then, knuckle lights have also become an early Christmas gift! Between these and a headlamp, the pink knuckle lights won out as they are just way cuter! They also provide a sense of security while lighting up the path.
In today’s technological age, runners have the benefit of being able to bring their phone with them on runs. It provides me with a sense of relief that I could contact someone immediately. The thought of twisiting an ankle is scary. The thought of doing just that on a dark country road with no one to help in range is horrifying.
4) RUN SMART
I used to just run…without a plan. Now that I am getting more focused on distance, as well as having to run during the dark hours, I plan out my run before I go. My family knows exactly where I am running and I don’t deviate. They also know when to expect me home. I also stay away from unpopulated areas while running in the dark.
5) CAREFUL WHAT YOU POST
I hate that our world has taken away our innocence. There are bad people out there and it is essential not to be naive about this fact. I never post when and where I will be running, on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else. Often, I will switch up my days and location (especially due to my husband’s work schedule). As well, I try not to let my running fall into a pattern.
When I do want to run in the country, my family will accompany me on early weekend runs. The kiddies are in the backseat of the van with breakfast in hand while my husband drives each kilometer mark. As I am running, they are thoroughly overjoyed at Mommy’s game of “catch up” and my husband is just as happy seeing me run…safely.
6) KEEP 2 EYES OPEN and AT LEAST 1 EAR!
I was running the last .5km of a 10km run. I was thoroughly spent and I am convinved it was only my go-to power song, Pumped Up Kicks, that was pushing me to run home. That was until I was almost scared out of my wits! Out of nowhere, an older gentleman on his scooter flew up in front of me. I never realized just how fast those machines can drive. I realized then that I was lucky – it could have been a car…and it would have been too late. Since then, I always have 2 eyes on the road and 1 ear open!
I always have an ID bracelet on me. I hate to think of ever needing it. I pray that I never need it. This was the major issue that my husband had when he responded to that scary call. They had no way of identifying the female runner as she was not conscious at the scene.
I was looking for a little something for my BRF and was so pleased to come across a small but loud pink keychain alarm. There are various alarms out there. I do think it is a good idea to have one on you while running. And, again…I hate to think of the reasons, but I feel better knowing that my BRF is wearing it.
9) STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Run with a group or with a friend. This is not always doable, but there are strength in numbers. If it is a possibility for you, this is one way to avoid running alone in the dark. Not all of us have this luxury, but I can certainly see that there would be comfort in company. Many local running stores have group runs during the week – this is a great time of year to check it out as an option.
10) HYDRATE AND FUEL
I always make sure to bring water and a fuel source, especially on long runs. I’ve been told that I still need lots of water on my runs, even though I don’t feel as thirsty in the cooler temperatures. Fuel is also important. I don’t want to end up half-way from nowhere, needing an energy boost to get myself home.
These are my observations as a new runner. We would love to learn from our fellow princesses on the run: what safety considerations do you take now that many of us are running in the dark?