There’s something special about a night run. The darkness, the nighttime sky, the solitude, the absolute peace – all of these components come together to form a truly refreshing workout for both mind and body. Unfortunately, there are certain dangers that accompany night running – dangers that don’t exist (or aren’t nearly as prevalent) during the day. There’s limited visibility, and potential encounters with wildlife and creepy people who don’t have your best interest in mind.
But don’t worry. With proper preparation and an alert mind, you can head out in the dark and still feel safe.
Run in Familiar Neighborhoods
Running is a great opportunity to explore new areas, but save that exploration for daytime hours.
There are a number of benefits to staying in familiar, communal areas while running at night. Many neighborhoods are equipped with streetlights, and sometimes residents leave outdoor lights on throughout the night. More light is a good thing.
Also, houses are generally filled with people. Even if it’s late and they’re likely sleeping, it’s better to have ears nearby should you require help. Finally, residential neighborhoods generally have less traffic. Bigger, outside-of-the-neighborhood roads house more cars, those cars are going at faster speeds, and the road has a smaller shoulder on which to run.
Carry Pepper Spray
Yes, it can be inconvenient to lug something along on a run. But if you’re running alone, pepper spray can be the difference between getting caught and getting away from the bad guy (referring to the creepy person, the aggressive lost dog, the bear that wandered into your path or any other creature you don’t want to connect with).
Plus, you don’t even have to carry a bulky can. Pepper spray is disguised in all sorts of forms these days: pens, cell phones, makeup and more.
Wear Bright or Reflective Clothing
It goes without saying that you’ll be harder to see in dark clothes. Poor visibility is the second leading cause of pedestrian deaths, so being as visible as possible is crucial. White, yellow, orange and neon shades are great options. Invest in some reflective clothes or purchase reflective tape and strap some pieces to your gear – top, bottoms, shoes and hat – for maximized visibility.
Bring a Cell
You never know what could happen out there. You could be sprayed by a skunk, attacked by a loose pet, roll your ankle or be approached by a weird person. Regardless, a phone is a great safety precaution for all of those undesired (yet very possible) situations.
It’s also a good idea, should you see people approaching, to slow down and give a nearby friend or family member a call. Being on the phone gives the impression that you’re not as alone as you actually are, and it may deter anyone with bad intentions.
Notify Friends or Family
Before heading out, tell at least one person where you’re going and about how long you expect to be gone. That way, should your phone battery die, you get injured or something unthinkable happens, someone will know that your plans went awry if they don’t hear back from you.
Wear a Headlamp
You know those dorky lamps people wear around their heads? As unfashionable as they may be, those lights are excellent for boosting visibility and thus increasing chances of a healthy, injury-free run. Invest in one that’s not too heavy, and get used to the feel of it. Pair it with reflective clothing for the safest outfit possible.
Take a Self Defense Class
Knowledge of self-defense tactics can be useful in many situations, and night runs are definitely one of them. It’d be ideal to run away or hide from any predators you may encounter while running. Maybe you could. But should you find yourself unable to get away, self-defense training can be a real asset.
Practice the above safety precautions to continue enjoying your nighttime runs. Be happy and stop fearing the creeps, the cars and any other dangers that wouldn’t stand a chance against your pepper spray.