As we get into the season of dark mornings and darker evenings, sticking to our running programme can be a bit tough. We find ourselves having a mental argument about whether to go out and battle the cold, or stay inside in the warm and watch our favourite TV series.
But more than just the drop in temperature, the dark really puts a spanner in our training. And that’s probably because it scares us a little.
From a young age, we’re taught about the dangers of darkness – for good reason.
The annual ONS report consistently finds that incidents of pedestrian fatalities on UK roads are higher in the Winter months. In 2017, 63% of fatalities occurred between October and March.
And we could all do more to keep ourselves safe.
688 of the pedestrian accidents recorded in 2017 noted that their dark clothing contributed to the cause of the accident.
The statistics are worrying. But just because it’s dark doesn’t mean your training should be put on hold. You just need to be a little bit more aware, follow some common sense and be safe out there.
Emma Kovaleski from UK road safety charity, Brake, said:
“As the clocks change and summer time ends, we see darker evenings, and this increases the danger on our roads. It’s especially true for runners, who often have training plans to stick to and need to continue their outdoor activity despite the dark evenings.
We’d encourage all runners to follow safety advice and use their best judgement when it comes to training in the dark. Making sure you’re seen is essential for helping to keep yourself and the roads safe.”
Here are our top tips for training safely in the dark…
One of the most important things to do when you’re running on dark mornings or dark nights is to wear reflective clothing. This’ll pick up any light around – from street lights to headlights - and help other road users spot you.
It’s also the perfect opportunity to go a bit crazy with your running outfit. Bright pink trainers with reflective strips or a high-vis jacket is sure to get you seen. You could also think about a headlight to make it easier to watch your step.
Keep some ID on you so your friends and family can get to you quickly if anything should happen. It just needs to have the basics – your name and an emergency contact will be enough.
It also doesn’t need to be an awkwardly shaped driver’s licence - our wristbands make it easy to carry your identification with you and won’t get in the way of your stride.
The Highway Code recommends pedestrians go against the traffic. And it’s even more important when you’re running in the dark. Running in the opposite direction to traffic makes it easier to see on-coming vehicles so you’ll be able to react quickly to move out of the way of danger.
You should always run on the pavement when you can and try to avoid routes that don’t have wide paths.
Remember though, you might have to slow your pace in the dark. You won’t have the visibility you’ve become used to in the Summer months, so you need to adapt the way you run. Winter isn’t necessarily the time to get a PB.
As the saying goes, there’s safety in numbers. And when it comes to running in the dark, it’s good to have a friend by your side so you can look out for each other.
If you can’t find a friend to go with you, let a loved one know where you plan to run. The ROAD iD app lets them track your route in real time so you can stay connected with them wherever you are.
It’ll give your loved ones some peace of mind to know where you are on your early morning or evening runs.
Cold weather makes it hard to get motivated and blasting your running playlist full volume can help. But in the dark it’s best to remove any distractions so you can hear everything that’s going on.
Especially on busy roads, keep your wits about you and listen out for any vehicles – that means leaving your headphones at home.
Fog, rain and snow are part and parcel of the Winter months. And harsh weather can drastically reduce visibility – even more so when it’s already dark.
If there’s poor weather forecast, but you still think it’s safe to run, stick to a route you’re really familiar with. It’s not worth testing out a new run when the conditions aren’t good because it’s more likely you’ll get lost and end up running a lot further than you meant to.
Nothing should stop up us from getting outside and running. Not even the dark. But we do need to bear in mind that it can make the roads a little more dangerous than usual, and we should all make the effort to keep ourselves safe.
So before you get ready for your morning or evening run, let your family know where you’re going, put on your brightest running gear and grab your ID.
Just don’t forget to have fun.