Running in the Dark

With the days getting shorter and the nights closing in have you thought about how you are going to continue training through the winter, in the darkness?  Some of you might be able to get your training in during the minimal daylight hours over winter but chances are a lot of your running is going to be in the dark.

I love running in the dark.  There is something mythical and special about being engulfed in a cloak of darkness and powering on through.  It is definitely more isolated as it’s just you and your little circle of light created by your head torch but I find this can be a fantastic feeling of freedom and anonymity; you don’t see anyone and they don’t see you.  All people can see is your head torch and you are not recognised so you are free to be who you want to be.  I know some people that feel more comfortable running in the dark because they lack the confidence to head out in the daytime for fear of being ridiculed by indiscriminate others.

Then there are others that don’t enjoy running in the dark for a variety of reasons; safety being the main issue so here are some tips to keep you safe this winter in the dark:

  • Plan your route – stick to routes you know and tell someone where you are going or better yet take a running buddy along
  • Be visible – I see too many runners (and cyclists) getting around in completely black clothing, great to be anonymous but you don’t want to be hit by a car or a bike so ensure your clothing is light coloured or at least has reflective strips, wear a flashing armband or ankle band so people can see there is something ahead
  • Be able to see – wear a head torch so you can see where you are going, your circle of vision will be less so you will need to take this into consideration with your speed but a good head torch is worth every penny.  I find the Black Diamond head torch great for close to the city and just off the main roads, but for proper kick ass light up the road style head torch when out in the trails the Ay-Up lighting system is second to none.  If you don’t have a head torch you can use a hand held but I find the bouncing of the light from carrying it in your hands makes you feel queasy
  • Join a club – there are loads of running clubs around where you will have safety in numbers by running in a group
  • Run Naked – not literally! But ditch the headphones and pay close attention to your surroundings so you don’t scare yourself half to death when someone comes near you or objects appear that you weren’t expecting, awareness of your surroundings is key
  • Carry a phone – if you do get lost or need help then you have access to it

It’s not only training runs that might be in the dark but if you are running any endurance events you might find yourself starting or finishing in the dark, or if you take long enough like I did at Transgrancanaria 125km race running through 2 whole nights!  But you don’t even need a long event to run in the dark, there are loads of different events springing up all over the country taking advantage of the darkness and creating events specifically designed for the darkness and join in the fun, they are great opportunity for you to have a bit of fun and get used to running in the dark in a controlled environment.  Check out some of these events to whet your night running appetite:

Run in the Dark Edinburgh 2014 (photo - Will Robb)
Run in the Dark Edinburgh 2014 (photo – Will Robb)
  • Run in the Dark – Worldwide – As darkness sweeps around the globe on Wednesday November 11th 2015 thousands will pull on their running shoes and their flashing armbands and head for the door.  Join in your local Run in the Dark to get involved with either a 5km/10km option.  I’m hosting the Edinburgh pop-up event, read about last year’s great event in Edinburgh here.
  • Mighty Deerstalker – Scotland’s original obstacle race….in the dark – 12th March 2015.
  • Flash Mob Run – Pentland Hills Scotland 4th November 2015.
  • National Trust Night Runs – National series of night time trail runs scattered throughout the country at various times throughout the year.
  • The Night Runner – a series of 3 events held in Delamere, Grizedale and Rivington.
  • Glow in the Park – London, Cornwall and Manchester

Know of any more great night time events?  Then let me know by commenting below so I can check them out too.  Go out and enjoy the darkness.  Happy Running!


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