Nighttime running is a skill set. When I started running at night 8 years ago, it was all I cold do to not jump out of my skin anytime a car went by. I was afraid of my own shadow, depending on whether or not I was running towards or away from a street lamp and saw it out of the corner of my eye. The more miles I logged the more confident, but no less cautious, I became. And then I had our children which reset the clock on my paranoia and I had to start over again.
As an urban nighttime runner I had a different set of challenges - distracted drivers, unploughed streets and slippery sidewalks and crazy people that might be stalking me (the last one was more Mr. P's worry than mine). But at least I had street lights, public transit and taxis if I got stranded and needed a ride home and houses to go to in case I needed help. In our cottage community, where nearly 60% of our summer residents have gone back to the city for the winter, my evening 7K route is a dark and quiet place to be — even at 7 p.m. If Mr. P thought crazy stalkers were scary, it's nothing compared to the conditions I run in now:
This means that I've had to relearn how to run at night to make sure that I return home in one piece. I turned to my ultrarunning community friends for tips. Vanessa Runs, a Canadian now living in San Diego, shared this article about nighttime running safety on Facebook. It lead to a great discussion about which lights work best — and even where to put them on your body to improve visability. The head lamp I currently is a wee thing that is OK for urban nighttime running, but doesn't work well here (see my picture: that's all the light I get). By plastering my body with reflective tape, a floroescent T-shirt, layering a reflective vest and moving my headlamp to the middle of my chest (I feel a little like Ironman out there), I've improved my visibility. Next on my running gear shopping list is a lamp with a higher lumens and a reflective vest for our dog (who always comes along with me on my nightime runs).
Do you run at night? How do you keep yourself safe on the road?
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