This week, my dad shares his two cents about staying safe while running in the dark. He’s smart. You should listen to him. ~ Sharon
Running In The Dark
As winter approaches the number of daylight hours is decreasing and we are more likely to find ourselves running in the twilight or full darkness. I am constantly amazed at the number of runners I see that seem to have no sense of how to safely run when there is little or no sunlight.
The most important rule is to make yourself visible. When running in the dark I always wear a white t-shirt. If it is cold and I am wearing layers, the white t-shirt is the top layer, unless the long sleeve shirt is also white. In the past few years I have supplemented the white shirt with a fluorescent green or orange safety vest over the t-shirt. My wife calls this my “nerd vest,” but safety has to overcome ridicule. I will also wear, depending on the temperature, either a white sweat band or a white ski cap. I have seen runners with flashing red lights attached to their backs. That is also a good safety idea.
As a child I was taught that when walking in the road, always walk facing oncoming traffic. That advice is still good when you are running. The one thing to remember is that the car’s headlights will likely blind you. Try looking down at the road and not at the car/headlights. Many times I have seen a runner in the road, when there is a perfectly safe sidewalk that could be used. My advice is to run on the sidewalk when it exists, it will always be safer than running in the road.
Be careful when approaching an intersection or street crossing. Always assume that a driver approaching the intersection will not see you and will likely blow past the Stop sign (especially in a neighborhood). Remember, in a car vs. runner collision, the car always wins.
My final piece of advice on running in the dark. You need to always be aware of your surroundings. This may not be popular, but I discourage running while listening to earphones. Very often you will hear things before you see them, giving you more time to react. If you do wear earphones, keep the volume low enough so that you can hear what is going on around you. This also applies when running on the road in the daylight.
Just one more thing…
After I wrote this article I came upon a discussion in Dear Abby regarding bicycle safety. One of the topics it addressed was biking in the dark. Some of the points are also applicable to runners. I am repeating a portion of this discussion here:
…clothes color alone has been shown to have little or no effect on visibility in dark conditions. During low-light times of day like dawn or dusk, wearing bright or fluorescent clothes is a good strategy…
Keep running safely.
Do you want my dad’s two cents on your running question? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Albert is the proud father of Mommy Runs It’s owner Sharon Wilhelm. He has degrees in Nuclear and Mechanical Engineering and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Florida and is also certified as a Project Management Professional. He started running as a sophomore in high school (Oct 1964), and never stopped. In high school and college he was a middle of the pack runner. He hit his peak as a runner in the first 10 years after graduating college. Though never achieving a champion performance, he ran some decent times (5K – 16:58, 5 mi – 27:07, 6 mi – 33:00, 10K – 34:58, 13.1 mi – 1:36, 20 mi – 2:20:51, marathon – 3:37:48). Currently he runs primarily to maintain a level of physical fitness. He hopes that when he retires in a few years he will be able to increase his training and return to competitive running. His secret (not so secret any more) ambition is to be a high school track coach; not to produce champion runners, but to instill the love of running in these young people and pass on his experience.