Motivation and Safety Tips for Running in the Dark and Cold
It’s that time of the year again. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. November 6, which means – we will be “falling back,” turning our clocks one hour into the past. It’s also time to break out the cold weather running clothing and to try harder to consistently head out into the pre-dawn darkness to get in those morning runs.
If you are one of those lucky individuals with the flexibility to run whenever you want, then you might as well stop reading this article because this column is for those of us that don’t have that luxury.
First, getting in a run before work allows you to accomplish something before most people even wake up! But let me be honest, running in the dark can be intimidating, and let’s face it you have to be careful, but it shouldn’t be an excuse not to run.
Try these tips to help get out the door when it is dark:
Make a Plan the Night Before and Lay Out all Your Gear
Have everything ready to go so you don’t have to hunt for it. Make it a priority to lay out your clothes, sneakers, jacket, reflective vest, headlamp, hat, gloves, everything you need the night before. Pick a spot and have it ready to go, so you don’t need to hunt through a dark room thus potentially waking up your partner.
As a male, I probably don’t fully comprehend what might make a woman feel safe but here are a few of my suggestions:
Bring you smartphone but ditch the earbuds and turn off the music.
Use a good headlamp. Be sure it fits snuggly over your winter hat.
Reflective Accessories (vest, belt, ankle/arm bands, etc.). Nathan Sports is one of the top reflective gear makers providing many different options. Additional safety lights are also an option and RoadID offers a range of these products.
Consider purchasing an identification band for your shoe or wrist. RoadID is a leader, and they have many different choices.
Pay attention to traffic patterns. When you are running in the dark, you have to take responsibility. I’m not saying drivers shouldn’t be responsible but run defensively and be alert. If at all possible try and run on a side street or in areas with little to no traffic. Being aware of your surroundings is important.
Know your Route, and How Long it Should Take
Always let someone know your running route and how long it should take. Running in the dark means you shouldn’t be spontaneous and decide to add-on an extra mile or two. Plan ahead.
Running in the dark requires focus. I’ve run my favorite route a thousand times during the day, and I know where every pothole is located, but when I run it in the dark, I have to concentrate. Slow your pace and take the time to pay attention and focus so that you avoid potential hazards.
If you have never run in the dark start by taking a 1 or 2-mile walk/run. Use it as an opportunity to get into the habit. I have a little mantra I say: Opening the door is the hardest part the rest is easy.
Try it When Weather is still Good
Running in the winter in Maine is tough. So start now.
Only use the Smartphone to Check the Weather!
Don’t check your email, Twitter, or Facebook. Don’t get sucked into it. Make this time a priority for you! They can wait until you are done.
Keep your Bedroom Clock Set 10 Minutes Fast.
Seriously, I use to work with a guy that set his office clock 15 minutes fast, and I thought it was hilarious, but alarm clocks are different. Many of us would probably have a hard time making it work every day without one, so do yourself a favor and set it 10 minutes fast. It works. Don’t use snooze button; it defeats the 10 minutes suggestion.
Don’t take yourself too seriously, after all; most people are still sleeping, and you are out running!