Running in the Dark

Last year when spring started changing over to summer I decided to give an early morning run a try to avoid the heat of a summer afternoon. I quickly discovered I loved running first thing in the morning. I’d get out just as the sun was peeking out and by the end of my run the sun would be shining bright and the world would be awake. Then summer changed to fall. I quickly realized I would be running in the dark… which would turn to running in the dark and the cold… running when the world was asleep. When people hear I run in the dark, there are often alarmed questions that have to do with safety. Truth be told, there are actually quite a few other walkers/runners out in the early morning hours not to mention plenty of people on their way to work! There is a lot of surroundings-awareness that goes with running in the dark (before sunrise and after sunset alike) to watch out for the obvious dangers, but there are some things that can be a bit scary about running in the dark that are a bit less obvious.

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Sweet face, but stinky smell!

Skunks
Apparently they do not hibernate. They roam around in yards and roads. I can smell them, but I can’t always see them. Today I danced with one while it decided between running across the street and staying on the sidewalk. I bounced back and fourth between the street and the sidewalk. I do not want to get sprayed.

Ice
For the love, please just shovel your sidewalk when it snows! When sidewalks aren’t shoveled the half-melted snow obviously turns to ice. This forces me out into the street.

Cars Blocking the Sidewalk
Much like ice, forcing me into the street. So dangerous. If a car doesn’t fit in the driveway, why not park it in the road?

Large rocks, lawn decorations, trash
Basically anything that could look like a skunk out of the corner of the eye. Makes my heart skip a beat. I think one time I actually yelled out loud… but seriously, who puts a plant holder on the sidewalk?

Tripping
It’s dark. Tripping over something and getting hurt is a very real possibility. I think running in the dark has really helped me with my stride and footing.

There is one person I always see running in the morning with their dog and they are often dressed in all black with no lights, reflectors, or flashing lights. Please, oh please, if you are going to run in the dark wear gear that can be seen. I light up like a Christmas tree… small lights that clip onto my laces, a flashing LED light, a reflective vest, and a head lamp (which I don’t always leave on, but often turn on if I see a car coming my way)… all with brightly colored tops. I’m sure I look ridiculous, but I know that I can be seen. You can’t always protect yourself from skunks, ice, or tripping, but you can do your best to be seen when you’re running in the dark!

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