Attention all you runners!! You don’t have to stop training due to cold and dark conditions…..
With the change in Daylight Savings complete, dedicated and newbie runners alike are having difficulty transitioning to running in the dark. Night running is a different animal for sure, but it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your running fitness or race goals.
Safety First, Then Fitness
Without a doubt the most important steps in the transition to night running revolve around personal safety. No single workout is worth risking your overall health or well-being for. With proper planning, night running should allow you to get your workout in with minimal risk. Here are some additional thought points to consider:
Well-Lit Route: Not only will other folks be able to see you (and vice versa), but you will be better able to see where you are running.
Keep It Simple: Rather than plot out a 10-mile run, consider finding a 5-mile course that you can double up on. Or better yet, a two mile loop that you can do as many times as necessary. This keeps you close to home should you need/want to stop, and makes sure you are 100 percent familiar with every nook and cranny in the road.
Be Visible: While most of us try to blend in, night runners can’t afford to. Loud colors with reflective material to catch passing headlights is a must. Add on a few flashing strobe lights (red for your back, white for your front) and you’ll be spotted for sure.
Reflective Vest: Preferably a mid-weight version, this full zip vest will make sure you are seen and help to keep your core warm. The zipper means you can adjust your internal temp, a very nice feature in the event you do get warm.
Headlamp: Not required, but a really nice to have item. It will cut through the darkness, allowing you to pick the safest path. It also helps with the visibility issue. Newer models are light weight enough to clip on to your hat or visor without much weight.
Pre-Run Snack: Odds are you will be running through your typical dinner time. If that’s the case, make a point to have a solid afternoon snack to keep your glycogen levels up. Most athletes can make it through from lunch to dinner, but waiting until just before you head out the door to down some carbs will most likely set you up for some gastric discomfort.
Post-Run Food: Ideally you’ll go right from running to a real meal, not a recovery shake. Try to incorporate some known recovery aids including high protein from lean meats. Be sure to include a few glasses of water with this meal. Eating early is key as your body not only needs the calories, but it needs to wind down from both the workout and eating. A big gap could delay your sleep time significantly.
What Not To Bring: Your Headphones
If you love to listen to your jams for inspiration, consider the consequences. At least for nighttime running:)