We know that with busy work and life schedules sometimes the only opportunity for a run is during non-daylight hours.  Trying to squeeze runs in while the sun is up becomes especially difficult during the short days of the winter.  Whether you logging miles in the early mornings before dawn, or in the late nights after dusk, we’ve put together a few tips to help you stay safe.


Increase Your Visibility - See and Be Seen

Wear bright and reflective clothing

It can be difficult for drivers to see runners in the dark, so don’t make it tougher on them.  Wear bright colors (such as white, yellow, orange) and reflective material so that you stand out and can be seen.  There are dozens of options including reflective vests, hats, jackets, shoes, headbands, armbands, pants, etc.

Wear lights to help you be seen

In addition to bright colors and reflective material, consider wearing a light as well.  There are a lot of options including LED armbands, LED belts, clip on strobe lights, blinking shoe clips, etc.  These additional lights will help ensure that drivers see you.

Wear or carry lights to help you see

Not only do we want to increase your visibility to drivers, but it is also important for you to see the road, trail or sidewalk as you run.  Potholes, branches, roots, uneven sidewalks, wire fences, and slippery leaves are all difficult to see.  Nothing can destroy a nice run or walk quicker than a turned ankle due to tripping or slipping on an unseen obstacle.  Consider running with a flashlight or headlamp to help you avoid hazards.

Run in well-lit or populated areas

Reconsider running on isolated trails at night.  While it can be serene and peaceful to have the woods to yourself, you set yourself up as an easy target.  Try to stick to the busier roads and well lit areas.  Oncoming cars can see you better and you’ll be able to see better in order to avoid potential hazards.


Run with a partner (or three!) when you can

There’s safety in numbers and any potential attacker will be a lot less likely to cause any trouble if he’s outnumbered.  A partner can also help you stay aware of your surroundings.  If you’re running alone, let someone know the route you’ll be running and when you expect to be back.

Run with a dog

Not only is he a man’s best friend and will he love being outside and exercising you, but he will also help ward off any troublemakers.

Woman running on beach with a dog (Dreamstime).jpg

Vary your routes and running time

Potential attackers could be watching your routines to loom in a particularly dark or desolate area.  

Increase Awareness

Pay attention to your surroundings

No matter how many precautions you take, always pay attention to what’s around you.  Trust your instincts if something doesn’t seem right.  Better to be overly cautious than to face a dangerous situation.

Get rid of the music

Ditch the headphones altogether and immerse yourself fully in the sights and sounds around you.  Cutting off your sense of hearing leaves you at a disadvantage because you can’t hear oncoming cars, cyclists, dogs, or any other potential threat.  

Turn down the music

We know sometimes you just have to have that inspirational songto help you finish the last mile and running without music just isn’t an option for you!  Try turning down the music so that you can still be aware of your surroundings and hear trouble approaching.

Half the music

Maybe the motivational music just doesn’t have the same impact if it’s playing at a whisper.  Keep the volume full blast, but try only wearing one earbud so while one ear is jamming to the music the other one can be listening to your surroundings.

Carry Identification and Contact Information

Make ICE (In Case of Emergency) Information Available

If your phone has a Medical ID option available make sure it’s enabled.  The Medical ID feature can provide important personal health related information in the event of an emergency.  For instructions and to see if it’s available on your device, search on the internet for “Medical ID” combined with your phone’s model.

Carry ID

Whether it’s a driver’s license or an ID tag, it will help first responders identify you and contact loved ones in the event an accident happens.


Protect Yourself

Wear a billed clip and clear glasses

The bill of the cap cab protect you by hitting an unseen tree branch or another obstacle before it hits you in the head and clear glasses will protect your eyes from any bugs, thin branches, or other unseen obstacles.

Run against traffic

It’s easier to avoid traffic and far easier to jump out of the way of an oncoming car if you can see the car coming at you.  Avoid busy roads and those with no shoulders or sidewalks.

Carry a personal alarm

There are a variety of small, lightweight alarms that you can carry which sound an attention-grabbing siren for assistance in an emergency.

Pepper Spray

If it’s legal in your area, consider arming yourself with some pepper spray in a place that you can easily access, and learn how to use it correctly.  We’re not suggesting you lug it around with you every time you run, but if you know you are running in a secluded area that might contain wildlife or lone individuals better to take it along.

Look both ways before you cross the street

The age-old advice from your parents could save your life!  Don’t assume that cars see you.  Sometimes, crosswalks with stop signs can be the worst for runners as drivers pull out in front of the stop sign looking for cars, but fail to see the runner right in front of them.  Always make eye contact with the driver before you step off the curb.

Carry your phone

You’ll be able to contact policy or friends immediately if something happens to you or you notice something out of the ordinary.  Apps like “bsafe” let you push a button on your phone to send an emergency message or call to designated friends who can respond and receive your exact location.  Other apps (such as Road ID and Runkeeper) let you broadcast your run live while it is in progress to selected families and friends.