Right precautions can brighten dark afternoon runs

Getting together with running groups such as Bucks County Roadrunners Club's McTuesday Night crew can make for a safe, fun experience. (Photo by Joe Boyce)

Not all runners head out the door for a workout at dawn and for those who don’t, this is the time of year when late afternoon training sessions become a bit more challenging.

With the sun setting before 5 o’clock, it’s just about pitch-black by the time many get home from work or even school.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this didn’t happen to be the busiest (or second-busiest) time of the day for vehicular traffic. Best known as “rush hour,’’ drivers are speeding home.

Some of them are hurrying to connect with loved ones, get a hot meal or just put the feet up.

But there are many, including a lot of runners, who want to get the running shoes tied and register a few miles before the aforementioned activities.

A few thoughts on running in the dark:

>Know your course: This is not the time to experiment. Stick with a route you’ve traveled many times and know where all the obstacles and danger points exist.

>Wear brightly colored clothing: Anything which will catch a motorist’s or cyclist’s attention will work.

>Reflective vests: Those shiny green, yellow or orange vests are quite popular. They’re inexpensive and easy to find online.

>Attach a light to your belt or hat: The brighter the better. They have LED ones now which can be spotted half a mile away. And they can illuminate the 20 or 30 feet in front of you to avoid falls and injury.

>Stay off streets as much as possible: While runners deserve the right to run on roads during daylight hours, common sense suggests you stick to sidewalks when negotiating streets. This is also a good time to run in areas where are no cars, such as a high school track, the Delaware Canal towpath or large grassy areas.

>Leave the headphones home: You want to be alert to your surroundings as much as possible. Having Taylor Swift blasting in your ears will more than likely prevent you from hearing what’s going on around you.

>Join running groups or go with a partner: There’s safety in numbers. Also, many runners take along their dogs because, after all, they have much better guidance systems.

>Carry a cellphone: Just in case there’s an instance where you might need help.

>Bring along an ID and let someone know where you’re going: Again, another precaution worth taking. You never know when you might require assistance.

>Save the hard stuff for the weekend: If you’re training for a mid-winter or spring race, save the long, hard mileage for Saturday and Sunday when there’s more opportunity to run in the daylight.

Most of all, embrace running in the dark. There’s a certain beauty to striding along under the stars, with moonlit nights making the world seem like a bit more peaceful place. Before you know it, longer days will arrive and those 7 o’clock runs won’t seem so daunting.


Race calendar




Dow 5K for United Way, 9 a.m., Bristol. Contact www.runsignup.com


Veterans Day 5K, 9 a.m., Newtown. Contact www.runningintheusa.com

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.