Unpopular opinion: it’s okay to run at night. In the dark.
Why is this unpopular? It’s considered unsafe and of course, there is an aspect to it that makes is less safe than daytime running. But there are also aspects to it that make it safer than running during the day.
Let’s get into it.
First off, if you’ve never run in the dark you should. I recommend trying to go before dawn and watching the sunrise but that’s only because you get to watch the world wake up. Personally, I like going out once the sun has completely set. If it’s your first time though, knowing the sun is on its way might help you out.
Running in the dark is a visceral experience. You can feel everything, especially if you have no music (which if you’re running in the dark, you should have nothing blocking your senses). Being out in a world that’s asleep is special.
You hear every footstep. You hear every breath, every beat of your heart. Nature is alive and talking just to you. And you also hear the rustle of every raccoon, opossum (best critters ever), deer, bunny and coyote. There’s also a lot of bugs sometimes.
All that aside, running at night is special.
1. Less Stress and Better Sleep
When I run at night, I feel like I get to work off any stress I’ve accumulated during the day. I get to leave it behind me on the pavement. I get to leave it behind in each drop of sweat that falls off me. I get to end my day stress free, with a nice meal, a great shower, and a feeling of complete calm.
Oh yeah, and I sleep like a rock when I run at night. It relaxes and tires me out just enough so that I get the perfect quality and quantity of sleep. Who could ask for more?
I hate cars. At least, when I’m running that is. They don’t see me. Half of the time they’re texting. And it’s plain stressful trying to figure out a stop sign with a car that isn’t sure what they want to do. So, night running fixes that problem. Less traffic means less stress, less danger, and a more relaxed run.
You get to face your fear. Since we’ve been talking about fear and darkness this week, it’s a good time to bring this up. Running at night can be scary especially if your brain is telling you that you’ll get mugged, murdered, or raped. We don’t know what is in the dark, so it’s scary but it’s good to overcome that fear.
As I said in the beginning though, night running is not without its risks. If you are not in a safe area, don’t go out. That’s the most important thing to keep in mind. But there are some others as well. If you are in a safe area, think about these things or think about running with a dog to help you calm down. Built in body guard!
1. Safety first
We can’t see. No denying that. Two solutions to this. The first is to run a course you know well. If you know the left side of a road is filled with potholes, you can avoid it. You can also run along a well-lit street. Do not go out running on a trail or a path or anything away from civilization. There are dumb decisions and that’s one of them.
If you have money to spend, grab a headlamp. They aren’t too awfully expensive and they’ll keep your path lit up. This also helps any oncoming cars see you. Which brings me to this…don’t wear earbuds. Don’t listen to music if you’re running at night because you’re asking for trouble. You have got to pay attention to your surroundings at night and that means no music.
2. Tell People
If you have someone you live with, a friend you text frequently, a husband or wife tell them you’re going on a run, how far and how long it’ll take you. As well, share your location through Facebook or another app with that person. This will help keep you as safe as possible. Even better, go for a run with that person or someone else if you can.
The most important thing is to just be aware. If you feel unsafe, go home. Call someone. If you’re being followed, call the cops. Be smart about things. Mix up your routes, keep your phone on you and charged. All the common sense stuff.
Running at night doesn’t have to be scary at all. It can be enjoyable, fun, daring, exciting, and all that fun stuff. It’s an adventure and a very lively one at that. You’ll see the world in a different light, quite literally, when you do.
Face your fear of the dark today and go for a run tonight. Enjoy it. Soak up the experience and use that adrenaline to push your farther and faster. More than that, learn from the experience and try other things that frighten you. Shift your perspective. Challenge your fears.