It may not be winter yet, but thanks to Daylight Saving Time, it’s officially dark all. the. time. (Or at least it feels that way.)
And as the sunshine continues to dwindle, it’s important to take extra precautions while running—whether you’re an early riser or you prefer logging your miles in the evening. When it comes to heading out in the dark, you should have two goals: “Stay safe, and have a great run,” says Hollis Tuttle, a coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City.
So how can you prep for a safe and happy sun-free run? Read on for Tuttle’s top 9 tips.
1. Stick to a route that you already know well
Be sure it’s well lit and used by other runners, walkers, or cyclists.
2. Use the buddy system
If possible, run with at least one other person. Don’t have an RBF (that’s running best friend, of course) on call? Let your dog come along for the miles. In this case, larger dogs are best.
Notify someone when you’re leaving for your run, and tell them what your route will be and when you anticipate returning. Don’t forget to let them know when you’ve made it back home safely. Bonus points if your text includes a sweaty post-run selfie.
As in, bring your own identification. Always run with a photo ID, your phone, and a credit card or some cash in case of an emergency.
5. Obey the rules of the road
When you’re running along a street, run into traffic so you can better anticipate what’s in front of you.
If your favorite roads or trails look dangerous, head to the tread.
6. Shine bright—like a reflective-covered diamond
You aren’t a ninja, and your goal here isn’t to blend in. Wear bright clothing with reflective pieces on the feet, legs, and arms—the body parts that move the most are the places you most want to stand out.
7. Ditch the tunes
If you normally run to music or love catching up on podcasts on the go, consider leaving your headphones at home so you can be extra-aware of your surroundings. If you simply can’t log a solid run without jams, just wear one headphone, and keep your volume low.
8. Gear up
Consider wearing a headlamp, or carry a flashlight to maintain clear sight of your running path.
9. Check the weather
As winter looms, be prepared for wet or icy streets or precipitation. It’s one thing to be tough and badass, but if your favorite roads or trails look dangerous, head to the tread.