Here are 10 Top Tips that will help you stay fast & keep safe while running at night
- Be seen. The night trail races we organise are mostly off-road. However several have road crossings or short tarmac sections to link up the best bridleways. So be sure to wear light or brightly coloured clothing. Event Some shoes also have reflective strips too and reflective bands on moving parts (like wrists or ankles) stand out particularly well. Think about a hi-viz vest (widely available from about £6). If you’re running regularly on the road at night consider carrying a red flashing led as used by cyclists.
- Buy a good head torch. It’s best if you budget about what you normally spend on a pair of runners to buy a good torch. But a good torch will last much longer. A good torch will give you wider field of vision & light the path further ahead. This allows you to go faster & lets you anticipate obstacles before you’re on top of them.
- When running steep off-road downhills in the dark, try imagining you’re running over hot coals. Aim for fast feet and short controlled steps. Long strides will make you less in control and tire out your quads. This advice also applies to day running but is even more relevant at night.
- If you’re worried about running at night start with a sunset run (where you start just before sunset) or an early morning run where you’ll see the sun come up. The added bonus is you’ll see some great sun rises/sets.
- Start by practising on a trail you already know well in daylight. It will still seem different but not that different.
- Rely on all your senses. Even with a bright light don’t just use your eyes: listen, smell and feel the trail under foot.
- Ensure your batteries are fully charged by leaving your torch on charge until just before you leave. Otherwise carry spare batteries preferably already fitted inside a spare torch (trying to change batteries in the dark without a torch is not easy!)
- Think about your footing and don’t let your guard down. Darkness creates shadows that can hide rocks roots and other hazards. Keep your wits about you.
- Leave your GPS at home (at least to start with). You will be going a little more slowly off-road at night, particularly if night running is new to you. Resist the temptation to get bogged down in ‘minutes per mile’ and leave your gadgets behind.
- Don’t run with headphones. If you must, run in daylight with music, but when running at night you need to listen out for cars, people and even animals coming your way.
If you have other top night running tips we’ve missed please add them as comments below.