woman and man running at night

Tips for running safely at night

What should you wear? Where should you run? Night running has its own set of rules to follow. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Lights on!

When running at night, it's very important to see and be seen, that's why every night runner needs a headlamp. Never leave without one, even when training in relatively well-lit areas. You'll also want to bring a set of spare batteries and practice changing them before you head out - it will be easier than doing it in the dark. If you're running in a remote area, you could even wear two sets of lights (one on your head, and one on your chest) for additional safety.

2. Don't underestimate the cold

Running after dark usually means running during the coldest months of the year. For all your runs (even the short ones), wear several layers of warm, breathable clothing. If you get too warm, you can take off a layer.

Pro tips:
- Keep your extremities warm with gloves and a hat. Always wear them at the beginning  of your run and take them off if you get too warm.

- Choose bright colours! Neon clothing will help you stay visible in the dark.

- Take your phone and a few basic supplies. You'll want be able to call emergency services and be self-reliant for a few hours if anything happens.

man checking his light for running at night

3. Plan your route

When running at night, it's best to know where you're going. Try going with a friend for your first few times, and practice with smaller distances before committing to long runs or a timed race.

Pro tips:
- Take it gradually, starting with a short route you know well. This way, the terrain will be familiar, even in the dark, and you'll be aware of possible shelters along the route if you need them.

- Make sure to check the weather before heading out. During races, organizers will usually make sure to keep competitors informed. It's best to cancel a run if heavy rain or snow is in the forecast. If you're new to running, you should also avoid heading out when temperatures drop below zero.

- Keep your strides shorter than normal to avoid slipping. Keep your eyes focused on your path and your immediate surroundings. Be sure to check regularly that you're not approaching any sudden or unexpected changes in terrain. It's best to slow down on slippery or muddy ground.

Safety tips for running in the dark

4. The importance of not overeating before an evening run

One tip that is important to keep in mind is to not overeat before an evening run in order to stay in shape! While you have planned to go for a run in the evening, this is the time of day that your body naturally slows down its metabolism to prepare for the night ahead. If you eat a large meal right before you go for your run, your body will have to work even harder to digest the food, which may leave you feeling heavy and uncomfortable during your run.

Also, difficulty with digestion may hurt your performance and increase the risk of getting a cramp or having other gastrointestinal issues. It is, therefore, recommended that you eat a light meal approximately 1 to 2 hours before your evening run. Opt for foods that are easy to digest, rich in complex carbohydrates and lean proteins to give your body the energy it needs without compromising your comfort during the activity. By following this advice, you will be better prepared to fully enjoy your evening run in a safe and healthy manner.

Safety tips for running in the dark

5. Stay in shape without confronting the cold!

When the temperatures drop and the streets are covered in snow and ice, it can be difficult to keep up your outdoor running routine. Luckily, there are many activities and alternatives to running that can help you stay active and in shape during the winter without braving difficult weather conditions. The choice of alternative depends on your personal preferences and your training objectives. Whether you opt for swimming, indoor cycling, hot yoga or snowshoe hiking, there are many options available for maintaining your physical fitness during the winter season. If you really want to keep running all through the winter, you may want to hit the treadmill!

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