One of my favorite times of the day to run is first thing in the morning – before the sun rises. It’s been awhile since I’ve been willing to brave the freezing temperatures and run before dawn, but this morning I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30am, put on our reflective gear and hit the road with the dog. It was a bit chilly and windy to start, but once I warmed up, I was comfortable.
The best thing about running first thing in the morning is that once it’s done, there’s no temptation to skip that day’s workout. I get to have my entire afternoon free for studying or whatever else and don’t need to worry about trying to fit in my run. Some days, I get to see the sun rise, and you can’t beat that! Though this morning was a little too early, and I was only out till dawn.
Running in the dark does have a bit of a learning curve, and I know it’s not for everyone, but it works pretty well for me. The number one most important thing for me to run in the dark is safety. I do have to run on roads in several places around my neighborhood where there aren’t sidewalks and it’s really important that I’m visible to drivers. I wear bright colored running gear (I’m on a real neon kick right now!) and always wear reflective straps – at least around my waist and usually on my wrist or ankle as well. And just in case something were to happen, I always have my RoadID.
Also, I always take the dog with me when I’m running in the dark and she wears a light so I have a little visibility of the path, as well as a reflective vest, leash and collar so she is visible to drivers and other runners. We both stay alert to our surroundings; Tara is a German Shepherd Dog and is quite good about letting me know if there is something “off” by subtle cues in her behavior – pricked ears or sudden watchfulness. Fortunately, the most dangerous thing we’ve run into is a skunk that thankfully didn’t spray us! Even though we get a lot of strange looks with all our gear, it’s worth it to know that the cars that speed through the neighborhood will be able to see us. Many of the runners and early morning walkers that I see wear all black or dark colors and I can barely see them till I’m about 3 feet away, so I don’t know how groggy drivers could possibly see them.
I do usually stick to areas I know well and have smooth terrain or sidewalks as much as possible so I don’t trip and fall in the dark, but for the most part, as long as I keep my feet picked up it’s not too difficult to avoid falls. I haven’t done much trail running in the dark, but I imagine it would be quite a bit more technical. Sticking to well-kept trails and sidewalks, I haven’t used a headlamp yet, but on a trail run I know it would be necessary. Tara’s little light is not nearly strong enough to provide enough light to avoid the obstacles on the nearby trails. I think I’d like to try a night trail race sometime, they sound like a lot of fun.
I’d like to get back into the habit of running regularly in the mornings before school instead of leaving my runs till the afternoon. It’ll make it easier to fit my shorter weekday runs into my schedule. Also, with the hot temperatures fast approaching with this summer, I expect I’ll be doing a lot more running in the dark or at least early in the morning as I try to avoid the daytime heat and ramp up mileage for the marathon.
Have you ever run in the dark? What time of day do you prefer to run?
4.39 mile tempo run