For many runners, winter means running in the dark due to the days being so short. Speaking for myself, these are always my least favorite months of the year to run outside due to not feeling as safe. Maybe it is from hearing terrible stories from when I was a mental health therapist or seeing too much violence towards women on tv and in the news. Regardless, I get anxious at times and I would rather adapt my running so I can continue to enjoy my daily runs.
Here are some tips to keep you safe while running alone in the dark:
1. Bring your cell phone with you. I never run with my phone on me, but I do during runs where I feel more anxious about running by myself. Keep your phone in a place that is easy to access just in case you need to grab it quick and make an emergency call.
2. Ditch the music. Run without any distractions so you can be more aware of your surroundings.
3. Leave the running skirts and fancy running jackets at home. I will run in black running tights and a black jacket when I run in the dark alone. Add a yellow reflective vest if you are running in places where there will be cars are bikers. I also throw my long hair up into a bun have my winter hat cover my hair so that it is less obvious that I am a female runner. I will also wear a buff around my neck and cover my face if I pass someone to make it even harder to notice that I am a female runner.
4. Bring pepper spray with you and have it in a place that is easy to access. This might mean wearing a running vest so that you can store your phone and pepper spray in the front pockets.
5. Run with other people if you can. If you really do not feel safe running alone, then consider cutting the miles, moving around your schedule, or doing whatever you need to do so that you can enjoy the miles you do get to run.
6. Only run in areas where you do feel safe. I have done 20-mile runs involving loops in a neighborhood rather than doing my more enjoyable out and back runs because it felt safer.
7. Mix up the time of the day you go running. If you cannot do that, then mix up your running routes daily. This will help to avoid unwanted admirers learning when and where they can expect to find you.
8. Avoid running right next to buildings or houses. That way, you can have more time to react if someone pops out from an ally or behind a building.
9. Maybe wear a headlamp, or maybe not? I go back and forth with this one. If you are in a pretty well lit area where there are other runners/bikers around or at least some moderate car traffic, then wear a headlamp with a reflective vest. That way, you will avoid getting hit by a bike or car. If you are in an area that is not well lit and does not have a lot of other traffic, possibly consider turning the headlamp off. This means, you will have to be good at trusting your body while running vs using your vision to avoid falling. The reason I recommend possibly leaving the headlamp off is because it is an easy way for people in the distance to spot you, see where you are going, and how fast you are moving.
What helps you feel safe while running in the dark by yourself?