With recommendations to practice social distancing when exercising outside (and to stay in if you can’t do that safely), a run in the dark is now an option, as many runners shift their workouts to early-morning or evening hours as a way to avoid others on the streets.
While running during these off-times can be an effective way to make sure you’re not passing by others outside of your household, dark miles can be a challenge. Not only can it be extra hard to drag yourself out of your warm, comfy bed when your alarm starts trilling, but you may also find yourself worrying about whether you’ll be able to see enough outside to stay safe—and if drivers on the road will be able to see you.
Running in the dark safely starts with ensuring your visibility. You want to prepare for dark miles with gear that’ll help you stand out and keep you from blending in with the surroundings, Jean Knaack, the executive director of Road Runners Club of America, tells SELF. (She likes Noxgear products, which “provide great illumination and visibility.”)
“If not using some type of illumination, it is critical that people don’t wear all black or dark clothing when they run in the dark,” she says. “It is important to be visible and wear brighter clothing with reflective elements.”
To stay safe on those dark roads, your gear choice to improve visibility is super important—but you should also keep more general safety advice in mind too. That can mean running with a fully charged cell phone, letting your roommate/friends/partner know the route you have planned and when you expect to be back, carrying a whistle or other alerting device, or even running with a furry friend (yep, your dog also needs reflective gear), Nancy Hobbs, executive director of the American Trail Running Association, tells SELF. If someone in your household is also a runner, running with a buddy in those dark hours can help you feel safer too, says Ali Barzyk, cofounder of Despite the Dark, a running group in Chicago aimed at bringing awareness to issues surrounding women’s safety at night. And if you feel unsafe running outside during these off-hours, it’s okay to hit pause on your outdoor running during this time. (This at-home cardio workout can help you sweat inside instead.)
Just keep in mind that even if you are remaining vigilant of your surroundings, you shouldn’t assume others are doing the same. Drivers—no matter the time of day—can be distracted.
“No matter what time of day you run, always keep your personal safety first and foremost,” says Knaack. “Never assume a driver will stop for you or give you the right of way.”
So play a proactive role in helping yourself stay seen and safe during your dark runs. Here are 14 products that runners use to log their early-morning or late-night miles.