Every year when we set our clocks back, it signals a significant change in running habits. Racing calendars are usually empty and peak weeks are well behind us. Our afternoon runs go from wearing light weight T-shirts/shorts/sunglasses to donning layers and a headlamp.
While this isn’t ideal for everyone, I for one, love running when it’s dark out. The miles and time seem to float by. It’s great to just focus on the swath of light ahead for miles on end.
If you are planning on spending any time outdoors over the next few months, you need to dress for it — like you do the cold. If I had to guess, I would say 80% of the runners I see out during the winter aren’t taking the necessary steps to keep themselves visible. In the interest of wanting you all to return home safely, here are a few steps to take.
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Add some color or reflectivity to your wardrobe. Yeah, I know, black is a sleek and popular color for runners. Adding a touch of fluorescent color to your running gear will help keep you visible. If you can find bright vests, hats or gloves it provides a cheap option to add to your existing gear. Reflectivity strips are also helpful, and many times are already on the bright colored gear.
Run facing traffic as much as possible. While you might catch some light in your eyes, at least you can see what’s coming at you. You are more likely to get clipped by a car if you can’t see it coming (from behind). It’s always advised to run on the sidewalk but sometimes snow and ice have different plans for us. If you must run in the street, use caution and try to avoid popular streets during rush hour.
Have a good light source. In the interest of not twisting an ankle at the very least, carry a light. It’s hard to run when you can’t see where you are stepping and then you factor in ice and things get dicey. A light source not only illuminates the path for you but makes you much more visible to everyone else (especially cars). Ideally you should have multiple light sources on you (one front facing and one rear). If there’s one thing I take seriously, its lighting. I’ve been using Fenix Lighting products for a few years and they can take anything you throw at them. They make headlamps and flashlights that are top notch and can easily handle the subzero temps here in the Midwest.
Jeramy Duffee is an RRCA Running Coach and an ACE Certified Personal Trainer with racing and coaching experience ranging from 5K’s to 100+ mile trail races. For running or coaching inquiries, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.