{Run Tip} Running Safety – in the Dark

Hey friends,
We are on the road to NY! It’s raining and the traffic is stop and go, but at least the cats are behaving in the back and we have a good audio book to listen to. OrangeTheory Fitness completely wiped me out yesterday, but it was a ton of fun and I think we will be back next year :) We grabbed dinner at Kanpai in Rosslyn and caught up with Christina. This udon really hit the spot after the butt-kicking I got in OTF.image
The rest of this post is dedicated to tips on running in the dark, which has become a more frequent occurrence for me with the shrinking daylight. Anyone else?

Running Safely in the Dark

I’ve never been a cautious person. For some inexplicable reason, I have this assurance that I could easily counter an attacker, stop a home invasion, or wrestle a bear to the ground (probably dodge bullets too, if I’ve had my morning caffeine). If I heard someone at the door in the middle of the night, I probably wouldn’t think to wake Mike – I’d just go straight for the golf club and post myself at the door. You know, despite the fact that I’m barely 5 feet and weigh a buck and change. As a result, for the past few years, I’ve laced up my running shoes at 6 AM, 5 AM, and occasionally even earlier without thought or fear for safety.

My early morning runs really aren’t a problem in the summertime – there are so many runners training for fall races and looking to beat the heat that I’m never alone on the trails. But in the wintertime, that number drops as many runners get their workout done indoors or do their run later in the day when it’s both warmer and lighter out.

I’ve been pretty devil-may-care about my safety in the past, but all my time watching SVU and Criminal Minds must have finally affected me, because when I went out for my 9 mile run at 5 AM a few weeks ago, I realized that my normal route would take me into an un-lit park away from the road, where assaults against runners had occurred only last year. The warning light came on in my head (yes, it looks much like the “check engine” light on your dashboard).

You know that moment in a suspenseful movie, where the protagonists decide to split up to search the dark house and you’re screaming, “DON’T SPLIT UP, YOU IDIOTS – ONE OF YOU WILL GET KILLED!”? Well, in the same vein, I decided to avoid the dark, isolated park probably full of creepers and alter my running route to stay close to the roads that morning instead.  [Image source]i4h0nlspp7o4ylg6_v2_

Since then, I’ve taken a few steps to put safety first during my o’dark-thirty morning runs:

Stick to well-lit paths and sidewalks along streets with cars (but if you spot a dark van idling by the side, avoid being kidnapped if at all possible. This would be a good time for some speedwork.)

Use the treadmill for shorter weekday runs

– If running outside with no one around, no music or headphones – it’s good mental training to run without music every once in a while anyway

– on weekends, text Mike that I’m running and when to expect me back (just discovered this app with a similar function)

go out later in the day when possible

wear a reflective vest (this one is for the cars)

There’s a lot more I could be doing, of course; I should probably run with my phone (I’ll do this on very long runs where I take my hydration pack, but it doesn’t fit in my small waist pack), I could carry mace or a foghorn (AKA Lucille’s rape-horn, fellow Arrested Development lovers), I could always run with a buddy or a group.  But for where I run, I think I’m taking enough reasonable precaution.

What safety precautions do you take when running alone when it’s dark outside?

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4 thoughts on “{Run Tip} Running Safety – in the Dark

  1. I have been running on the treadmill due to weather. I hate being cold when I run! I know that as spring approaches I’m going to have to take my runs outside to get used to the outdoors again. I just purchased a Halo Belt because they were on a flash sale on zulily a few weeks ago. I will wear that when I’m outside. I always carry my cell phone on outdoor runs.

    1. Dawn H.

      Treadmill and outside running are so different, aren’t they? I’m trying to do more runs outside, but it’s so nice to wear just shorts and a t-shirt on a treadmill instead of getting dressed in several layers to go outside. I should carry my phone all the time too…

  2. I make sure that I vary my running routes, so that it’s not possible for an unknown person to anticipate where I will be. I consider my city to be fairly safe, but last summer three female runners were stabbed. One morning, I went for a run and chose not to go to The Common, which is a large park about 2.5km away; instead I slogged around some local streets. When I got home, I learned that a woman had been stabbed on The Common. It was at about 9:30am, so it was daylight and I thought there would be plenty of people around. I was so grateful that I had chosen a different route. Fortunately, the poor runner made a full recovery, but the attacker has never been located.

    I tend to wear an aura belt if I’m out on my own in the dark: http://www.auracyclesystems.co.uk/ It means I’m less likely to be hit by a car. I also stick to fairly busy, well lit paths.

    Ideally, I don’t run on my own in the dark. I was too late to train with my running club one evening, so I went out on The Common on my own. I passed some of the club members training and some of the women were so concerned about me being on my own that they ran after me!

    1. Dawn H.

      Glad to hear the woman’s okay – scary to think you could have been there! Your club members sound awesome. I’m definitely sticking to busy paths from now on – I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter if nothing has happened to me so far – my future safety may depend on being more cautious!

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