Tips for running in the dark

Stay safe while you’re on your nightly runs with these 10 tips.

Now that the days are getting shorter and darker again, there is a good chance that you will start or finish your runs after sunset. It can be daunting at first, but running in the dark can be really fun if you take some precautions.

Woman running in the dark

Be visible

This might be the most important tip on this list: make sure you are visible for other road users. Even though you might be able to see cars and bikes, changes are that they don’t notice you. Most modern sports clothing has some small reflective accents but a high-visibility outfit is prefered. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wear an oversized high-viz vest though. Most sports brands produce neon colored shirts and vests that work just as well as ‘normal’ running clothes. Reflective slap bracelets are a cheap way to be more visible as well. 

Use lights

If you are running on the road or in a dimly lit area, lights will be needed as well. Not only will lights help you to be more visible, they will also make sure that you see where you’re going. 

Blinking lights are more noticeable than static lights, while they also have a longer battery life. If you are running in an area where there are no street lights, a headlamp or a chestlamp will be needed. 

I’m always wearing a neon yellow shirt (or vest when it’s colder), combined with a solid white headlamp and a blinking clip-on light on my back. I will link the 2 lights I’m using at the bottom of the page via an Amazon affiliate link. 

Ditch the music

If you’re like me, you might like to listen to music or podcasts while running. As you are harder to be seen, while it’s also more difficult for you to spot what’s going on in your environment, running without earbuds can help you notice approaching trouble. 

Music can be a great motivator and if you really need it, try and run with only one earbud. Some noise canceling earbuds can also work in “noise-amplifying mode”. This will mix the environment sounds with your music. 

Bone conduction headphones can be another great solution as well. They can let you enjoy the music while you can still hear everything around you.

Don’t run in the middle of nowhere

You might feel safer to run when you know there are other people around you. If something should happen, it’s of course easier to find help in a residential area, then in a forest. If you are looking for popular routes, try to find them on the Strava Heatmap. This map contains all the popular running spots in the world. 

Run with a friend or in a group

There is safety in numbers. A group of people is just easier to notice in the dark. When you run with a friend or in a group, you have the added benefit of motivating each other. Just keep in mind that with the ongoing pandemic, the allowed size of your running group might be limited in your area.

Tell people where you’re going

When you go on a run on your own, notify your housemates of your route and when you plan to be back.

Take your phone with you

Always take your phone with you while on your after hours run. If something should happen, you can at least call someone to pick you up. You can also use your phone to share your live location with a friend.

Wear some ID

In case of an emergency, have some identification with you. This can be anything: a bracelet, your name written on the inside of your shirt, a copy of your passport, your wallet… First responders can use this to get your medical history or to contact your family. 

Trust your instincts

If something feels fishy, it’s ok to go back or to find an alternative route.

Have fun

Running in the dark can be a great way to mix up your daily workouts. Depending on where you live, you might notice that it is way less crowded. When you take some precautions, it can be a really enjoyable experience.

Items in this post

Headlamp: BioLite Headlamp 330

Clip-on USB light

Noise canceling headphones: AfterShokz Aeropex