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Digital Running Club » Ask the Experts, Columns » Ask the Experts: Running at Night

Ask the Experts: Running at Night

I took up running this summer, and I’ve enjoyed running both before and after work. Unfortunately during the winter, I get to work before sunrise and leave after sunset. Do people run in the dark, or do I need to find a treadmill?

Michelle P. – Portland, ME

running at nightYes! People run in the dark all the time. Some people even prefer it. If you’re going to run at night, however, you need to take a few extra safety precautions.

1) Consider your route: Obviously the safest route to run in the dark is a paved pathway that is well lit and dedicated to runners. Unfortunately, most people aren’t lucky enough to live near one of those. Run on a sidewalk when you can and avoid roads with narrow shoulders. If you must run on a road, run against traffic – a good idea any time of day.

2) See where you’re going: If your route is not lit, you’ll need to bring your own lighting. You can do this with an ordinary flashlight, but it’s cumbersome to carry. Your best option is a headlamp. Most headlamps come with adjustable elastic headbands and are powered by AAA batteries. Models vary in brightness and other features, but you can expect to pay between $20 and $50.

3) Be seen: Reflective gear is a must for nighttime running. Most running gear comes with some reflective striping, but it’s often minimal. A far more visible option is to wear a reflective safety vest. They come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from something that resembles a sleeveless shirt to more minimal designs that are nothing more than a series of straps. You can expect to pay about $20-$40 for a good lightweight reflective safety vest or you can read our article to learn how to make your own. In addition to reflective clothing, it’s always a good idea to wear a flashing light on your back so motorists can spot you even before their headlights reach you. Flashing LED lights generally include a clip so they can easily attach to your clothing and retail between $5 and $20.

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Brian Darrow is a running coach in St. Petersburg, FL who specializes in online coaching for beginners. Follow him at

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