10 Tricks and Tips for Running at Night
With the days getting shorter and darker, you might wonder how to squeeze your run in during the daylight hours. Here’s some good news: You don’t have to.
In fact, you might find running at night is exactly what you need. It offers a beautiful, peaceful, refreshing, and tranquil atmosphere, helping you potentially achieve new personal bests and enjoy each run to the fullest. We love running so much we even launched our own night race the Moonlight on the Falls Marathon at the end of August.
With the right preparation, running at night can get you that much closer to your running goals. The cooler temperatures don’t hurt either. So, let’s explore our top 10 tricks and tips for running at night, allowing you to make the most out of those darker and busier days.
Tip #1: Invest in the Right Gear
The stary nights offer a beautiful canopy for a run. However, the darkness also reduces visibility for drivers and cyclists alike.
Before you head out on any night run, you’ll want to ensure you invest in the right gear. Some items you’ll want to consider include:
- A Reflective Vest (or a vest, like Noxgear, that is lit) – This increases your visibility for cars and cyclists. You want others to be able to spot you from far away!
- Head Lamps or Flashlights – Even when running on pavement, you can encounter potholes or poor terrain. Being able to see where you’re going via a headlamp or flashlight, can help you thwart falls or injury.
- Strobe Lights – The goal is, basically, to stay as visible as possible. Attaching lights or flashing lights to your arms or body can help make you more visible to those passing by on a bike or in a car.
Safety is your top priority when running at night. Make sure you have lights that make you easily identifiable.
On top of this, depending on where you live, you may want to consider warmer running clothes. At night, the temperature drops and the sun goes down, leaving it a little chillier than you might be used to.
Tip #2: Know Your Route
While exploring is wonderful and fun, at night, it’s best to stick to a simple route that you know well and one where you won’t get lost. With a route you know, you can plan for obstacles or avoid them altogether.
For night running, it’s also a good idea to steer clear of more challenging and technical routes. These routes might isolate you from others. And they might also offer an increased risk of injuries, such as tripping over obstacles like tree roots or rocks.
Tip #3: Choose a Well-Lit Route or a Safe Rural Route.
Another important thing to note is how well-lit your route is. A well-lit route offers a safe bet and is definitely a smart move.
While I love running on rural routes, such as in parks where the stars are ultra-bright, safety always comes first. This means that isolated areas might not be the best path for a night run.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what route is safe. However, lighting and people around is something you’ll want to take into account.
Tip #4: Always Make Sure Others Know Your Plans and Route
Before you head out, let someone know where you are going. This is common good practice when it comes to any run, hike, or outdoor activity.
Even if you live alone, text a friend or family member. Tell them where you intend to go and around what time you plan on being back home. Let them know you will text them once you arrive home.
Tip #5: Don’t Use Headphones
Undeniably, music can provide motivation and a great beat to run to. Yet, with visibility reduced, you’ll want to keep all your other senses on high alert, including your hearing. This ensures you stay well-aware at night and through each stage of your run.
This may further mean that running at night offers a great time for a quick or short run. Even when you’re training for long distances, a short run can provide various benefits, such as helping your recover properly while also maintaining your endurance.
Tip #6: Find a Running Group or a Running Buddy
If you can and feel so inclined, run with a buddy or sign up for a local running group. This is an especially good practice for places where the winter drastically reduces daylight hours. Safety is in numbers!
Tip #6: Run Against Traffic
Wearing well-lit and reflective clothing increases the chances that traffic will see you. However, if you can’t see oncoming traffic, there is almost no chance that you’ll be able to react in a timely and quick manner. Running against traffic grants you this opportunity.
At the same time, it’s far safer to run on sidewalks and paths as opposed to right on the roads. Understandably, with some routes, running on the road is unavoidable. This, again, comes back to choosing a safe route at night. And when you must, run against traffic!
Tip #7: Bring Your Phone
You may already do this, but a reminder never hurts. Just in case you injure yourself or something happens, you’ll be thankful you have your phone nearby.
It can also pay to learn the safety features of your phone. For example, iPhones have a built-in emergency feature so that it lets out a siren noise, calls emergency services, and alerts your emergency contacts. Other phones may have similar features. Thus, it’s a good idea to get to know them so that when you do need them, you can use them to get help.
Tip #8: Don’t Forget to Fuel Up Before and After
No matter when you run, nourishing your body is an important part of a successful running session. Ensuring you’re properly fuelled can also dampen the stress response, ensuring you get to sleep easier following your night run.
Aim to eat an hour or more before your run. Then, consume a hearty meal of protein and carbs afterward and before bed. If you decide to go for a longer run at night, you can also bring a snack with you to keep your energy levels up as you go.
Tip #9: Follow Your Gut
Does something not feel right down that particular stretch of the road? Is someone giving you strange vibes? Always follow your instincts.
Switch to the opposite side of the road. Or simply, turn around. It’s not worth the risk.
Tip #10: Stretch Afterwards & Relax
Since running at night tends to fall close to bedtime, you want to take some time after your run to perform a proper stretch and cool down. This can dig into your parasympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest mode), helping you relax and prepare for a night of rest.
Additionally, stretching may significantly reduce your risk of injuries, ensuring you can keep running until your heart’s content.
All in all, running at night is a wonderful way to get your training in and avoid the hot sun. It might also end up being your only option after a particularly busy day or during the winter months. Use it to your advantage, but ensure you always put your safety first.