(Mis)adventures in night running

*”Nighttime” to include any time that it’s dark.  So 4 a.m. = nighttime.

The advent of fall’s shorter days combined with the resumption of my running routine means that I’m spending a lot of time these days running in the dark.  It definitely has some pluses — I don’t have to feel self-conscious because no one can see me, the temperatures are cooler, it feels kind of badass — but there are some negatives as well.

1. Headlamps only work if you bring them.  I met up with my friend Patrick on evening last week to run trails.  I grabbed my headlamp and left it on the couch.  He’d been out on his bike all day and didn’t have his.  It gets dark fast on the trails.  We managed about a mile running before good sense mandated that our run transition to a quick hike.

Source.  (Not me.)

2.  Drivers can’t see you if you dress like a ninja.  I don’t do it on purpose, but somehow I always end up dressed all in black for my night runs.  Probably because 90% of my running clothes are black.  Not a great safety move, though the weapons might help me feel better about #3…

3. Bad guys lurk in the shadows. I’ve never had a problem with anyone bothering me on a night run.  I stick to my neighborhood, and I run with our big dog who is a teddy bear but I’m pretty sure would rip the throat out of anyone who tried to hurt me.  Still, bad things can happen, and even though I don’t let that knowledge keep me inside, it does weigh on my mind a little.

4.  Sneaky sidewalk cracks.  I don’t fall often on the sidewalks, only three times I can think of, but falling on the concrete hurts way worse than on the trails.  All of my sidewalk falls have been at night when I’ve caught my foot on an uneven spot in the sidewalk.  This makes me a lot more tentative when running at night.  I run in the street for stretches where I know the sidewalks are bad, which isn’t smart in light of #2, but I do run facing traffic and watching out for headlights.

5.  Speaking of headlights… There you are, running along and seeing just fine thanks to the combination of moonlight and streetlights, when a car drives by and blinds you.  Is it too much to ask that people avoid driving when I’m running in the dark?  It is?  Damn.


6.  Skunks are nocturnal.  Our neighborhood has a major skunk problem.  It’s not a normal run if I don’t see at least one skunk. Wednesday morning I saw three in the first mile.  One of these days I’ll wear my heart rate monitor and be able to see the spike when I come around a corner or pass a bush and come face to face with one of these guys.  And my dog doesn’t share my terror of being sprayed healthy respect.

What about you? Do you run at night?  Love it? Hate it?  Any tips for the rest of us?

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