/ 13 min

16 Safety Tips for Running in the Dark

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By: KURU Footwear

Running in the dark can be an exhilarating experience, offering an extra sense of peace and solitude. Between the decreased traffic, the quiet of the night, and the much cooler air, it is not a surprise that many avid runners favor going for a run after the sun sets.

However, while the charm of night running is undeniable, it is essential to remain conscious of its potential hazards. About 77% of pedestrian fatalities in the United States happen in the dark—and that’s only considering traffic accidents. There are also other dangers, such as theft, harassment, and physical attacks, which are especially common among women.

However, with a healthy amount of caution and the right safety preparations, you can still enjoy your nighttime runs.

Key Takeaways

  • Being proactive and well-prepared is the cornerstone of safety when running in the dark. Make sure you have all your gear, let people know where you’re going, and scope out your running route beforehand.
  • Having self-defense supplies during your nighttime run prepares you for the unexpected and fosters a sense of security. It’s not about anticipating danger, but being equipped and ready to handle any situation that might arise.
  • A proper pair of running shoes helps you secure a speedy exit in case you encounter danger. The right shoes provide strong traction, stability, and the shock absorption to navigate even tricky terrain with ease.

How To Stay Safe When Running in the Dark

Safety during nighttime activities requires an extra layer of precaution. As careful as you might already be when out on a run by yourself during the day, you need to be extra careful and cautious at night.

General tips for going out at night, especially when alone, include: always letting someone know of your plans, carrying identification, and making sure your phone is charged.

Most importantly, you need to be keenly aware of your environment. Stay in well-lit areas and avoid isolated or unpopulated places. It’s not just about being visible to motorists; it’s also about preventing potential crime and keeping yourself from getting lost.

Proactivity is important when it comes to ensuring safety during nighttime activities, such as running in the dark. By taking preemptive measures, you can significantly decrease the risk of potential hazards and foster a more secure and enjoyable running experience.

Below are 16 more tips for running in the dark to help keep you safe after the sun sets.

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Plan Your Route in Advance

Planning your running route in advance is invaluable for running safely in the dark. It allows you to familiarize yourself with the terrain, identify potential hazards, and locate well-lit and populated areas. You can also note the places where the sidewalk might be uneven or where you might encounter traffic. If you come across any trouble, you know where to go for safety or help.

By doing this, you can focus more on your run and less on navigating, making your run smoother and safer. Moreover, if you share your planned route with a loved one, they can keep tabs on your whereabouts. Using apps that track and share your location in real-time can provide an additional safety net. Remember, a well-planned run is a safer run!

Vary Your Routes and Times

While it’s best to plan your run, don’t make it too predictable. Running the same route at the same time every day makes you an easy target for potential criminals. By observing your habits several times, it is possible for someone to anticipate your movements and plan an attack.

Varying your routes and times make it more challenging for anyone to track you or wait for you in a secluded area. Instead, make sure to change up the route you take and the times and days you run to keep yourself less susceptible to danger. As a bonus, varying your routes can also help prevent boredom and plateauing in terms of physical fitness.

Moreover, varying your routes and times can also keep your home safe while no one’s there.

Run Against Traffic

Running against traffic is critical for your safety—whether it’s light or dark outside. By doing so, you can see oncoming vehicles and move out of the way or react as otherwise necessary. Plus, running against traffic makes you more visible to drivers—which makes it easier for them to avoid you and reduce the risk of unwanted accidents.

A team of researchers in Finland actually conducted a study on whether this is truly safer—and it is! Their findings show that pedestrians have an average of 77% lower likelihood of getting struck by a motor vehicle if they are going against traffic.

Depending on where you live, running or even walking against traffic might be required by law. If there is no sidewalk, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia require pedestrians to always go on the side facing the traffic.

Avoid Isolated Areas

Isolated areas pose a significant risk for anyone in the day—and even more so when running in the dark. The solitude that might seem appealing during daylight hours can quickly turn into a hazard after sunset. The absence of people and the lack of adequate lighting makes these areas perfect hideouts for individuals with malicious intent. It’s easier for them to find cover, take you by surprise, and harm you.

If you encounter any problem or injury—even if it’s something as relatively non-life-threatening like a sprain—the lack of passersby can delay help from arriving. Since most isolated areas also have limited light or visibility, you could have a higher chance of falling or tripping.

Isolated areas may also have uneven terrain or obstacles. These can be difficult to spot in the dark, further increasing your risk of injury.

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Run in Well-Lit Areas

When you’re planning your nighttime running route, it’s essential to choose well-lit areas. Avoid streets with burnt-out street lights or parks without proper lighting. This also means avoiding forest trails, hills, and beaches. Instead, plan your route around residential neighborhoods with consistent street lighting, specially designated running paths illuminated throughout the night, and public parks with extended lighting. 

Well-lit areas ensure that you can see your surroundings clearly and spot any potential hazards from a distance. These areas have better visibility and can provide more witnesses in case of an emergency. Even if the ideal, well-lit areas may be farther from your house, it’s worth the extra steps. Always prioritize your safety over convenience.

Use a Headlamp or Flashlight

Streetlights don’t always guarantee complete safety. Some lights might flicker or be too dim, making it difficult to see the ground in front of you. Bringing your own lights for running in the dark is recommended. Unless you want to run while holding a small flashlight in your hands, go with a hands-free option. For your convenience and safety, invest in a headlamp for running in the dark.

Bringing a headlamp or flashlight ensures that you maintain control over your visibility. It increases your ability to spot potential hazards like uneven pavement or low-hanging branches that city lighting might not fully reveal, significantly reducing your risk of injury during your nocturnal runs. You can easily light up your path while running. Even better, having your own lights for running in the dark helps alert wild animals or oncoming traffic of your presence.

Wear Bright or Reflective Clothing

One of the biggest rules of thumb for running in the dark safely is that this isn’t the time for your sleek, stylish black workout ensemble. Rather, go big and bright or go home. Dressing brightly or wearing reflective clothing when running in the dark isn’t just a fashion statement—it’s a critical safety measure. Glow-in-the-dark running shoes paired with reflective gear might clash with your personal style, but it will help keep you safe.

Bright or reflective clothing establishes a high-visibility profile. It demands attention. Reflective strips on your clothing or gear catch the light from street lamps and headlights, turning you into a beacon in the night that helps drivers spot you from a distance. Reflective vests, armbands, or clip-on LED lights are excellent options for running in the dark gear to help enhance visibility and keep you safe.

Infographic illustrating 16 essential safety tips for running in the dark.

Run With a Friend

Running with a friend can increase your safety when running in the dark. This offers two benefits. A pair or group not only serves as a deterrent to potential danger but also means you have assistance at the ready if an accident or injury occurs. Additionally, both you and your running buddy can look out for each other, increasing your collective awareness of your surroundings and potential hazards.

Another benefit to running with a friend is that it can really boost your exercise discipline and motivation. Sharing your runs with someone else helps you stick to your training schedule because you won’t want to let them down. This mutual accountability leads to consistent workouts, helping you reach your fitness goals faster. Plus, the social interaction makes your runs more enjoyable, turning exercise into a fun, shared experience instead of a solitary chore.

 

Ditch the Headphones

Running while wearing headphones or earphones—especially in the dark—poses a number of safety risks. The primary risk is that it decreases your awareness of your surroundings. Loud music or an engaging podcast can drown out critical auditory cues. We’re talking about the approach of a car, a cyclist’s bell, or even the footsteps of another runner. Moreover, with earphones in, you’re less likely to hear someone approach you from behind, which could present a safety risk in isolated areas.

If you are not quite ready to surrender your motivational running playlist, consider investing in bone conduction headphones. These devices rest near your ear and create sound waves that vibrate directly into your inner ear, keeping your ear canal free to hear ambient sounds.

Stay On Solid Ground

When it comes to running in the dark, the surface you choose to tread on can make a significant difference in terms of safety. Opting for solid, flat, and level ground is more predictable under your feet. This minimizes the risk of unexpected trips, falls, or twists that might occur on uneven terrain. Since visibility is limited, and detecting small hazards like rocks, potholes, or roots can be tricky, you’ll be able to run better if you know the ground isn’t suddenly going to drop off. 

Basically, solid ground provides a safer and more controlled environment for you to enjoy your nighttime run, without needing to fret about potential hazards. The less things you need to worry about, the more you can concentrate on your stride and running form. Running on solid ground also provides consistent support for your stride, ensuring better balance and reducing strain on your lower body.

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Carry Identification

Carrying an ID while running might seem like overkill, especially if you think of it as a bulky wallet in your minimalist running shorts. Here’s a plot twist—have you ever considered the alternative if things went south during your nighttime runs?

If you get injured or attacked, you’ll need an ID to prove your identity to authorities or healthcare professionals. It will also provide responders the essential information they need to help you, if you are unable to articulate it yourself. Your ID can also serve as proof that you’re not someone with malicious intent. 

If you’re worried about bulk or lack of pockets, all you need is a simple ID card or a neat ID band will do the trick. You can also just slip it in between your phone and phone case.

Don’t Leave Your Phone at Home

Speaking of phones—do not ever leave it at home! We all know how important this device is nowadays. It can contain practically everything: digital IDs, wallets, maps, music, and emergency contacts. In case of an accident or injury, your phone is pretty much your only lifeline to call for help. If you get lost, Google Maps and GPS are your best friends.

There are plenty of armbands designed specifically for runners that allow you to carry your phone securely while remaining hands-free. This way, you won’t have to worry about dropping your phone or it bouncing around uncomfortably in your pocket. Plus, with some apps and features like emergency contacts and tracking capabilities, it can provide an extra layer of safety during your nighttime runs.

Tell Someone Where You’re Going

Sharing your nighttime running plans is a simple yet effective safety measure that ensures someone is aware of your whereabouts during your exercise routine. As much as you might love the freedom and solitude that running provides, doing this gives you a safety net. It offers reassurance that if an unexpected situation arises, someone will be alerted sooner, potentially reducing the time it takes for help to arrive.

Before heading out for your nighttime run, be sure to tell whoever you live with about your planned route. If you live alone, text a family member or friend—or even leave word with a trusted neighbor—about your plans. Tell them where you’re going as well as the time you expect to come back. This way, if you do not return at the expected time, someone will know to look for you and where to conduct the search.

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Use a Tracking or Location Feature

Thanks to technology, we now have access to various tracking and location features that can help keep us safe while running. It’s easy to share your location via various messaging apps, as long as you have data and your GPS on. Many fitness apps offer live tracking as well, which allows your loved ones to see your real-time location and progress on your workout.

There are plenty of wearable devices and smartwatches with built-in GPS tracking that can accurately track your location and send out alerts if any irregular activity is detected. There are also safety apps that offer the same features without the need for a wearable device—all you need is your phone. Some can even automatically call or send your location to your emergency contacts.

Consider Carrying Self-Defense Supplies

We all know that it’s better to be prepared than sorry. We’re sure you’ve seen stories like this countless times on the news—someone getting attacked while out for a run, while out with friends, or just on a simple errand. While we don’t want to scare you, it’s always better to have some form of self-defense with you just in case.

Pepper spray or a personal alarm can be easily carried in a pocket or an armband. Consider investing in a self-defense keychain—a small but mighty accessory often equipped with sharp edges or points designed to incapacitate an attacker if necessary. Even flashlights can be used for self-defense. If the light is strong enough, you can momentarily blind any attacker with it.

We hope you will never have to use them, but carrying some self-defense supplies on your runs can give you added peace of mind.

Have a Safety Plan

A safety plan is like your personal roadmap for staying safe while running in the dark. It’s a practical strategy that outlines the steps you’ll take and the resources you’ll use, especially in potentially risky situations or emergencies.

It can significantly improve your safety, especially if you run alone. A safety plan entails outlining possible risk scenarios and the appropriate responses to each. Think about possible areas where you might encounter danger and form a plan on how you’d escape or handle the situation.

A simple safety plan can just be scouting your running area or trail in daylight and planning the quickest route to safety, whether that’s a hospital, police station, or the next bright and well-populated area. Try practicing a few safety drills if you can. Practicing first-aid for sprains, scrapes, and common running injuries can be part of your safety plan, too.

Safety Tips Complete With KURU

Running is one of the best cardio and aerobic exercises to add to your regular routine. Running in the dark provides unique benefits such as less traffic, cooler temperatures, and a peaceful ambiance that can help boost your mental well-being and the overall quality of your workout. However, that’s only if you properly prepare for the possible dangers.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.” Yes, there may be dangers in the dark. However, if your schedule and lifestyle only permits you to run at night—or you simply prefer the peace and quiet—there is no need to sacrifice your nighttime runs. All you need to do is exercise more caution, be prepared, and take all necessary measures to further ensure your safety.

For a successful and effective run at night, make sure you follow our tips for running in the dark.

Wear a pair of well-fitting and supportive running shoes. For that, KURU has your back—or rather, your feet!

Sneakers with optimal arch and ankle support like the KURU ATOM are essential for maintaining good balance and preventing injuries—which means less chances of tripping and falling while running in the dark. 

All KURU shoes are designed with patented KURUSOLE technology, which dynamically flexes with each step to protect the heel and can help you maintain healthy running form. Some styles, like KURU’s FLUX, even come with a reflective strip to help you stay more visible at night. The right running shoes can even potentially save your life if you need to sprint away from danger. After all, it’s hard to run away if your feet are hurting or your shoe is slipping off!

With KURU shoes, you can enjoy well-supported and less sore feet in a wide range of styles and colors. Don’t just wear any other shoes for your nighttime run. Instead, pick one that will help keep you safe while feeling comfy.

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