It’s getting to be that time of year again when the mornings are still dark by 7AM and the sun sets before you’re even out of work. Ahhh why is daylight savings still a month away?? Well, because of this I’ve found myself caught in a number of dilemmas lately. I’m either A) waking up later because it’s pitch black at 6AM in the morning and I’m not a fan of running outside in the AM, in the dark, in the cold, in the fog/haze/etc. Or B) I find myself running after work, just as the sun is setting, or sometimes even in the dark. I know I just said that I don’t feel “comfortable” running in the dark in the morning, but for some reason running in the dark at night is totally okay by me. Don’t ask me why…something about the morning is just sketchy and too quiet. As you can imagine, I’ve been opting for option B lately. I actually have enjoyed running after work, just as the sun is beginning to set. Especially this time of year, the air is brisk, the ground is buried in crisp leaves, houses smell like fireplaces and other warming fall scents, you can bundle up in all of your favorite fall running clothes, there’s just so much to enjoy…you may even catch a glimpse of a pretty sunset!
So lately, I’ve doing my runs at the track two times a week to get my workouts in, which actually works out well for a number of reasons. The little league football team is always practicing there after 5:30 so the big lights go on over the field as soon as it starts to get dark. Additionally, the coach is yelling his brains out at these small children to work harder and not to give up, sooo I just pretend he’s yelling at me as I “sprint” around the track…it certainly helps for the motivation and encouragement! Also this helps especially because I don’t have to worry about cars, traffic, sidewalks, etc.! Unfortunately, when I do run at home, in the dark, it’s not as “safe” as running on the track. I live in a heavily populated area; right off the highway so there’s typically a lot of people driving through my town. Also, there’s a good amount of highway and not enough sidewalks!
The other night I thought it was a good idea to go for a run and MAYBE just maybe, try out the trail. I figured eh, I have my flashlight on my iphone (fail) and plus what could go wrong, I know those trails like the back of my hand (ultimate fail). Within a minute of running on the trail, I’m almost CERTAIN I saw a fluffy tail and what looked to be the shadow of a coyote in the distance. Now, I swear I’m not crazy. There are 100% coyotes in my area, as the majority of it does revolve around the woods. My dad has spotted a coyote and/or heard one a number of times in the past month! Anyway, I wasn’t in any mood to try and fight off a coyote, so I slowly backed away and continued my run on the non-existent sidewalk. I’m not really sure what option would have been safer…
Running against the ongoing traffic, with no sidewalk or trying to successfully pass the coyote? This is a tough one seeing as I did almost get hit by a car going double the speed limit on a back road. Granted I probably went about this all in the wrong way. So here’s what I’ve learned…!
What not to do when running in the dark:
1.) Don’t run with an ipod, aka earbuds in your ears. Probably a bad idea seeing as you should be paying attention to the sounds around you if you can’t physically see anything in the dark. Whoops, my bad…already made that mistake!
2.) Wear bright clothing, particularly anything that has a reflector built in! Exhibit A, don’t wear what I wore…black spandex, and a dark blue long sleeve. It is a fact that you will not be seen in this dark attire.
3.) Run against the traffic if there is no side walk. Yep, I found myself guilty of this as well. Hey! It’s hard to cross the street when the traffic is never ending and I was in too much of a groove to stop! But, for future reference, it helps to go against so they can see you and you can see them (and hopefully jump into the bushes worst case scenario).
4.) Be knowledgeable about where you’re running. Oh look, one thing I did right!! It’s definitely important to know/be familiar with the area you’re running in. Luckily for me, I know these roads well and know where the ditches are to avoid! One spill could lead to a realllll bad accident and probably leave you in the hospital.
5.) May I suggest a dorky headgear flashlight? Okay, I’m being hypocritical hear because I can honestly tell you I’ll never wear this…BUT if you don’t feel comfortable enough running in the dark then make this a part of your attire!
6.) My last suggestion is to enjoy the run!! I LOVE running in the dark for the reasons I mentioned above and especially because I feel like I run 10x’s faster! Does it have that effect on anyone else?? I literally feel like I’m just cruissinnn on my runs and the biggest advantage?? You don’t even see the hills coming so you totally don’t feel the pain of them like you normally would! It doesn’t get any better than that.