Tips for Running in the Dark

Running in the dark is probably my least favorite type of running. I do love running in the snow, in the rain, and in the sun, but running when it’s dark, early morning or after the sun sets in the evening, presents lots of unseen obstacles (HAH! See what I did there?).

With winter right around the corner, and with the time change this weekend, I’d like to use today’s Thursday Things to share some tips and tricks for Fall and Winter running, aka running in the dark. The 4 tips below are common sense, but all are tried and true and will help keep you safe while running in the dark.

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1. BE SEEN! When it’s dark, it’s dark. Don’t dress in dark clothing. A good share of my running clothes are black, but when it’s dark out, I try to light myself up like a Christmas tree. Light colored shirts, reflective clothes, blinky lights, anything at all that you can do to be seen is a good thing. Running in the dark is not the time to be a fashionable runner all matchy matchy, it’s a time to make sure you are seen! It doesn’t matter if your clothes match, as long as they are bright and visible. I also have quite the selection of clip on or Velcro blinky lights. I clip lights on my shoes, on the back of my visor, on my shirt… blinking lights tend to catch more attention than steady lights, so keep that in mind as well. Many of my lights have blink or steady options, and I almost always pick the blinky setting. It’s definitely worth the money to get some lights to attach to your body.

Reflective clothing is also one of the best ways to make sure you are seen. Running clothes on the market these days often have reflective material built right in. If you don’t have clothing that already has reflective material, definitely wear light or white colors. If it’s black outside, and you’re wearing black, you won’t be seen! If you’re wearing white, you have a much better chance to be seen by drivers or other runners. If you do a lot of running in the dark, maybe look into buying a reflective vest or reflective tape to tape on your torso.

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2. BE ABLE TO SEE! Being seen by drivers means nothing at all if trip over something and break your leg. If you’re running in the dark, you have to be able to see. Use a headlamp, handheld lights, or run in lit areas to help yourself stay safe. There are so many products on the market to help you see and be seen. I have a headlamp (the Black Diamond headlamp) that is lightweight, easy to use, and rechargeable. It has a few different settings to allow me to see where I am going when it’s dark. The last thing I want to do is trip and fall, or slip on the ice. Without a light, I would be lit up for others to see me, but I wouldn’t be able to see where I’m running, which is just not smart. If you don’t have lights to light yourself up or to be able to see where you are going, be sure to wear your light colored clothing and stick to well-lit areas. If you don’t have a light, it’s not the time to run on the trails; stick to roads with streetlights.

3. DON’T BE STUPID! Follow the proper rules of the road. Run on sidewalks if it’s dark out. If you must run in the street, please PLEASE run against traffic. If a car is driving up in your direction and they don’t see you, you will have a much better chance of not getting hit if you can see the vehicle coming at you and jump off the road if necessary. If you are running with traffic, you will never see that vehicle, and if they don’t see you either, you could get hit or run over. I generally prefer to run in the street, but if it’s a busy road, or if it’s dark out, I will run on the sidewalk, away from cars.

Don’t ever get comfortable and think the drivers will always see you. Always be prepared to take your own life in your own hands and jump out of the way of cars if necessary. I sometimes pick up a couple rocks and hold them if I’m running alone in the dark. I would not hesitate to throw a rock at a windshield if necessary, to keep from being run over. Never assume the driver will see you; be prepared! Running in the dark is also not the time to run an unfamiliar route. Stick to what you know, because you know it! No surprises leads to a safer run.

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4. SAFETY FIRST! If you run alone, and it’s dark, and you are well lit and able to see, but it’s still dark, take your safety into consideration. Maybe don’t listen to music and be shut off from the world. Be alert and listen to what’s around you. If you feel you need to, carry pepper spray, or a personal safety alarm. Tell a friend where you are going, and when you should be back, or even better, take a friend with you or run with a group! If you don’t normally carry your phone while you run, maybe take it on runs where you are alone and in the dark, and think about using an app (like the Road ID app) that allows friends or loved ones to track you, and notifies them if you stop moving for a length of time.

Keeping yourself safe is something that should be in the forefront of your mind, no matter when you are running, but it is extra important when it’s dark out. You never really know what could be lurking around the corner. A pothole? Someone who wants to abduct or hurt you? A stray animal? Be alert, and be aware that things in the darkness can likely see you way before you can see them, especially if you are not paying attention like you should.

Please be safe, friends! What other tips do you have to share for running in the dark?

Monday Mentionings: August 24

This past week, well, mostly the weekend, was a busy one! I’m going to share a bunch of pictures, and just give a sentence or two to explain each.

Last Monday evening I had a great run and weightlifting session after a visit with the chiropractor.Photo Aug 17, 8 06 59 PMTuesday ended with a 4+ mile killer track workout, followed by a killer rain shower 10 seconds after we finished our run.  Love running with these people.11944888_10100324630645153_1457556465_nThursday was a beautiful evening for a run, again, with some of my favorite people to run with.  Also, I’ve mastered the mid-run group selfie, and I’m pretty proud of my skillz.11903575_10100324630570303_1999578238_n11949714_10100324630650143_1024623076_nThursday night I picked Thayne and Kristen up from the airport, and our first stop was Oklahoma Joe’s for some delicious BBQ.  Thayne texted me countdowns for several days leading up to this meal.11896892_10100324630605233_2067075220_nFriday morning, Kristen and I got up WAY too early, in order to run with Amy before we went to Hays.  I’m sad it’s staying dark later, but we had to utilize my trusty headlamp for our 3 miles at 5:15am.11923072_10100324630580283_690683337_nI drank too much water before and after our run, and had to stop and pee twice on the way home.  Had to take a #reststopselfie with Kristen.11920358_10100324630565313_1174308725_nGot a pedicure with Mom and Kristen shortly after we got to Hays.11942244_10100324630585273_136296171_nHad to hug Shay puppy for several minutes before she stopped crying.  I miss Shay puppy every day.11940225_10100324630595253_1041028770_nPhoto Aug 21, 5 18 56 PMWe went to visit Grandma and Granddad, and meet their new baby boy, Tiger.  Side note, how fitting and adorable is it that his name was Tiger before they adopted him?  Granddad now has a kitty, and the kitty now has his Granddad.11948013_10100324630635173_2002480191_nFriday night, Mom gave us our new Sparkle visors, and we wore our matching Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas shirts and tried to take a picture to commemorate our little Vegas adventure. Kristen makes it impossible to take a picture.  We have signed up for the 5k and the Half Marathon in Vegas, which should make for a super fun long weekend in Vegas, while we “Run the Strip at Night!”11910861_10100324630625193_607930741_nOh, Gordon.  Such a dapper young man.11909801_10100324630610223_1038741301_nSaturday morning, we had a fun little run.11897204_10100324630640163_1789497653_nAva and I enjoyed our snowballs and some playground time while we watched Thayne play in the Hays High Alumni soccer game.11938192_10100324630545353_211207791_nPhoto Aug 22, 10 58 16 AMFollowed the game with a Q burger.11944645_10100324630555333_969639176_n-2Finally got to see Jasmine and get a Bubble Tea; I’ve missed her the last few visits to Hays.11923399_10100324630620203_1103244265_nSpent some more time with Grandma, Granddad, and Tiiger.11910671_10100324630590263_1719557987_nSunday morning, Mom and I ran a few miles.  Another perfect mid-run selfie.  It was actually pretty chilly this morning, it was gorgeous outside after the cold front came through Saturday night.11911432_10100324630600243_593421049_nGot the last mile done with Shay by our sides.  I love this pup. (awesome photo courtesy of Momma)11933046_10100324630575293_283786346_nPUPPY!Photo Aug 23, 10 15 21 AMIt’s always sad to leave home.11920357_10100324630630183_487903455_n11920287_10100324630655133_1029758478_nRealized that we never took any pictures with Dad.  He took pictures of us in our Vegas shirts and before we ran on Saturday, but we didn’t get any with him IN them.  So a Dillon’s photo shoot happened before we left town.11896972_10100324630550343_476935994_n-2Thayne was sleepy on the way back to KC Sunday afternoon.11911832_10100324630560323_1112326883_n-2I got back to my apartment just in time to watch the Royals come back and beat the Red Sox in the 9th inning.  Yay baseball!  It was an exciting last inning.  Jasper could hardly contain his excitement. He was happy to get some dinner and cuddles.  I missed him while I was gone for the weekend.  THANK YOU to Amy for checking in on him.Photo Aug 23, 6 55 07 PMAll in all, last week was a great week.  My heart is full after lots of family time, friend time, and some quality runs. I am currently at 79 miles for August, so I’m right on track to hit 100 or more by the end of the month.  Next weekend is the Dot to Dot 10k, which is the first 10k of the Heartland 30k series.

Have a great week, friends!

Successful Running Week

I’ve just finished week two of my half marathon training plan.  I’ve had two fantastic weeks of training, and I hope the next 20 weeks of training pass by just as successfully.

Monday, I was supposed to have a tempo run, but I knew the weather was going to get really cold and I wanted to have an easy run on the last nice day before the temperature plummeted.  My legs felt tired and heavy, but I pushed through and had a great run at dusk.  Notice my little green blinky light I clipped on my SPIbelt.  3.5 miles.

Photo Nov 10, 5 40 43 PMThe very next day, since I was off work for Veteran’s Day, I bought a headlamp.   I tested it out and played with it for a while, but ended up not needing it for my tempo run since I ran during the day.  The first half of the tempo run felt good, and it wasn’t really until I turned around to head back home that I realized I had a slight tail wind, and of course, that resulted in a headwind, a very cold North headwind, on the way home.  I struggled to maintain my pace for the tempo, and it ended up dropping about 8 seconds per mile, but I considered the run a win.  I didn’t stop, and I pushed as hard as I could, and ultimately I was happy with my performance.  4.1 miles.

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Wednesday night, it was COLD! My entire run was after dark, and it took about a mile to really warm up!  On the plus side, my headlamp and cold gear pants/shirt performed wonderfully.  I was lucky enough to win a pair of New Balance cold gear tights from attending a Ladies Night at my favorite running club, KC Running Co. a few weeks ago, and wore them for the first time this week.  I also had a cold gear top, an layered with a wind breaker, gloves, hat, and ear muffs.  I was a bit chilly for the first mile or so, but once I did warm up, it was a nice little run.  3.5 miles.

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Thursday night was KCRC Groupie Run night.  Last week and this week, I ran with a new friend at the Groupie Run, and the last two weeks, we’ve run farther than the supported distance of 3 miles.  It was very cold, and my new friend tried out some Mizuno cold weather gear, that she ended up liking. I chose not to try out the gear, because I had already bundled up and didn’t want to undress and redress before the run!  4.1 miles.

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Friday was an off day, and I wore my Feetures compression sleeves all day long, and my calves really appreciated them.  I can tell I’ve been running more than I had been the last few weeks, but my body isn’t screaming at me to stop, it’s just getting used to the increased mileage.

Saturday, I decided to do my “long” run instead of doing it on Sunday.  At this point, early in my training plan, my “long run” is only about a mile or so longer than my ‘regular” runs… but it will eventually build up to 12 miles.  I debated with myself during the first half of the run on Saturday, trying to convince myself I should just do the long run so I could relax and do an easy run on Sunday.  It was cold out, and  snowing lightly, but there wasn’t much wind, and the roads weren’t slippery.  Once I warmed up (after a mile or so), it was a pretty nice run, and I was ultimately really glad I did the longer distance.  4.25 miles.

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Sunday, a nice easy recovery run.  I’ve run in the cold all week, and decided to run at the gym on the treadmill.  I also was washing clothes and all my cold gear was in the washer.  I think my lungs appreciated the warmer climate, and it was nice to not wear so many layers.  It was also nice to really sweat a lot… I sweat a lot no matter where I run, or when, or how far, but in the cold, I don’t sweat quite as much.  It did feel good to be dripping wet with sweat after a run, it was very cleansing.   3.55 miles.

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I ended the week strong, and hope my runs continue to be mentally and physically rewarding.  I know that winter, cold, dark running is mentally challenging, as well as physically, and I am thankful the first couple weeks of runs have felt so good.

I ended the week with 23 miles.  My highest mileage week ever has been 27.7 miles.  That was back in March, about five weeks before my first half marathon, at my “peak” for that cycle.  I’m only 5 miles short of my peak for that training cycle, and I feel very confident with the progress I’ve made since that first half marathon over six months ago.  I am confident that I can safely increase my mileage and confident that I can build to the point where I can successfully run 13.1 miles and reach my ultimate goal of not walking the Rock the Parkway half marathon.  I have 21 weeks yet to prepare, and if my first two weeks are any indication of how this training cycle will go, I will indeed ROCK the Rock the Parkway!

Can you tell the difference between training cycles? Do you feel stronger each cycle, constantly increasing your fitness?  How many miles do you run each week while training for a half marathon?