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12 Tips to Stay Safe While Running at Night

It’s a good idea to practice running safety every time you go out for a run, but if you plan to run early in the morning or in the evening before the sun is up, it’s especially important to be cautious about where and how you run.

Whether you prefer to run in the evening or the fall and winter months have you running in the dark more often, here are some general tips to stay safe.

How do runners stay safe in the dark? 11 quick tips

1. Wear reflective, bright clothing.

Man running at night wearing bright reflective clothes.

Ditch the dark clothes and opt for neon, light-reflecting running apparel and shoes instead. This will alert oncoming traffic and other pedestrians about your presence well in advance. Also, consider wearing a headlamp or attaching some other type of light to your body so vehicles can clearly see you coming from a reasonable distance away.

2. Run a familiar route.

A track field at night.

Even if you prefer running at night, it’s not an ideal time to explore. Save unfamiliar routes for daytime runs and choose safe, well-lit areas for nighttime instead. Avoid high-traffic areas, routes with construction, or other potential falling hazards that could be difficult to navigate in the dark.

3. Switch things up.

A runner crossing a bridge.

Although it’s good to run familiar routes at night, it’s also good to switch things up regularly and avoid running the same way every night. For instance, if there’s a well-lit park in your neighborhood where you like to run, alternate between that park and a few other well-lit, safe options so your routine is less predictable. This might seem like overkill, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

4. Run with a buddy.

Group of female runners, one with a headlamp on.

Running at night is much safer when you’re not alone. Whether you bring a friend along or you join a running group, you’ll have safety in numbers and are much less likely to be pinpointed as a target by any nefarious individuals. 

5. Bring mace.

Running on bridge during sunrise.

Mace is inexpensive, easy to get, and an excellent way to protect yourself in a pinch if you need to. It’s also small and convenient to carry along with you while you run. Stick it in your pocket or attach it to your keyring so you always have it on you. Also, make sure you know how to use it in an emergency, so you feel confident protecting yourself.

6. Don’t wear earbuds.

Group of runners at night.

Although many runners prefer to listen to music or podcasts while they run, it’s not the best idea for night running. If you can’t hear what’s happening in your immediate surroundings, you won’t be able to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Ditch the earbuds if you’ll be running at night, or, at the very least, wear one in a single ear so you can still hear what’s going on around you at all times.

7. Pay attention to your surroundings.

Woman running in the dark while it rains.

Similarly, take notice of what’s going on around you on night runs. It’s easy to check out and daydream while you get your steps in, but nighttime runs aren’t the best time to do so. To stay safe running at night, you’ll need to pay attention to your surroundings at all times so you can react quickly. That includes who and what is nearby, including objects and people.

8. Bring your phone.

Woman running on bridge during dusk.

Although it’s nice to leave your phone at home, it’s best to bring it along with you for any nighttime runs. Having your phone on you enables you to call for help quickly or get in touch with a loved one or friend if you need someone to pick you up. Certain apps also allow friends or loved ones to track your location while you run, so you can always have an extra set of eyes on you.

9. Run against traffic.

Man running in street next to street lamp at night.

One of the most common mistakes people make when running at night is running with traffic instead of against it. When you face vehicle traffic as you run, drivers can see you coming more clearly, and you can also see oncoming vehicles far in advance, giving you time to move over and get out of the way if needed. If possible, it’s best to avoid running on busy roads at night in general.

10. Wear a brimmed hat. 

Woman stretching before fitness.

Wearing a hat will provide some relief from oncoming headlights when running at night. It will also protect your head and eyes from low-hanging branches or other obstacles you may not notice due to a lack of light.

11. Let someone else know where you are and when you’ll be back.

Woman stretching before night run.

Whether you’re headed out for a quick jaunt around the block or plan to run several miles, it’s always a good idea to let a loved one or friend know where you are. That way, if you’re not back on time, someone can check in on you and make sure you’re okay.

12. Run indoors or once the sun comes up.

Woman on treadmill with view of the ocean.

If you feel uncomfortable about running outside in the dark for any reason, there are other ways to get a great workout. For example, consider running indoors on a treadmill with Vingo! You can explore all types of running routes around the globe for a fun and challenging adventure and a great workout. Or, you can supplement nighttime runs with other cross-training activities like yoga, weight lifting, or indoor cycling. Alternatively, you can adjust your running schedule and wait until the sun comes up to head out for a jog.

Key Takeaways:

Whether you prefer nighttime runs or the change of seasons has you running after the sun goes down, it’s always best to take safety precautions. Things like running a familiar route, wearing reflective clothing and gear, ditching the earbuds, and running with a group will help you stay safe while running at night.

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