“Hello darkness, my old friend”

Last week’s blog was the unofficial start of winter running, and I was excited to share tips to help all brave the temps and enjoy the outdoor miles during this beautiful season.

This week brings more on outdoor running during another notable time of year, though I bring it to you not as enthusiastically. It’s the only drawback that comes with running outside this time of year – darkness.

Don’t worry, Burton – we’ll be safe out there

The early morning daylight is a distant August memory and the evening daylight has been dwindling, with it all but gone now when most of us leave work for the day. If you’re like me and enjoy a post-work run outside or if you’re an early riser who hits the pavement, you’re going to deal with darkness.

While enjoyable and safe, dark running comes with a slew to strategies to ensure both of those benefits are met. Here are a few things to consider to stay happy and healthy during the season of darkness.

Ditch the Headphones
I’m a big fan of running without headphones for focused, peaceful, and mindful outdoor running. When it’s dark out and you need to be more aware of your surroundings, it’s an even stronger case for leaving the iPod at home.

If you need your tunes or podcast while you stride, at least turn down the volume so you’re not totally zoned out from the world.

Invest in a Vest
It’s a good idea to wear bright-colored clothing when running in the dark. Taking it a step further, a bright, reflective vest is a great addition to your running gear this time of year. The one I have it super lightweight so I barely even notice it – though I take comfort in knowing drivers notice it.

A small piece of gear that offers a big benefit

Plan Ahead
Mapping out your route ahead of time is smart, especially so you can include paths and locations that are well-lit and safe – and avoid areas that aren’t.

Bonus if you can leave the route on your computer for your roommate, spouse, or parent to know where you are and how far you’re going.

Bring a Phone
In addition to skipping headphones, my phone is typically something I leave at home during a run. It’s the one time in the day I feel like it’s okay to unplug and not be available. But there’s a good argument for having it on dark runs.

In the event something goes horribly wrong during the run – you roll an ankle on uneven ground, trip over something you don’t see, or encounter a shady individual – having a phone can be a literal lifesaver.

Don’t Forget Your Furry Friend
While it’s great to have your safety as first priority, don’t forget about your running buddy (if you have one).

Burton’s regular running leash is reflective so it’s great for those semi-dark or dusk runs. When it gets really dark or if I know we’ll be running on a path where we may encounter others, I have a little light that I can attach to the leash to make sure people and pets are aware of us.

What else do you do to stay safe and enjoy outdoor running this time of year? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL. Share your dark running experiences on Twitter and Instagram too using hashtag #wellirl.


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