Running safe (when the sun goes down)

With warmer weather and busier days, some of us find ourselves venturing out into the darkness for a late-evening run. (I know there’s at least one of us out there, because I came uncomfortably close to him the other night as he ran on a narrow road in low light…)

Low-light runs can be productive and enjoyable, but we can’t urge everyone enough to play it safe when running at night. Here are five solid tips to keep in mind if you’re going to run once the sun goes down.

Dress for it. Wear light colors, ideally reflective, so that drivers can spot you. Even if you plan to stick to the sidewalk, you still want to be visible when you cross the street or as people pull in and out of their driveways.

Run defensively. After you’ve done what you can to dress for visibility, go a step further and pretend you’re invisible anyway. Make yourself the one responsible for staying out of the way of vehicles. You may have the right of way, but when it comes to cars, you are definitely the squishier, more breakable part of the equation.

Travel against traffic. Run with traffic coming towards you, rather then letting it approach from behind. It’s better to squint at a set of headlights than be the last one to know there’s a careless driver sneaking up on you.

Plan your route. Your favorite daytime running route may not be the safest nighttime running route. Choose a route that is well-lit with adequate sidewalks, avoiding any streets or neighborhoods that may not be safe at night.

Be aware. Remember, potholes and near-sighted drivers aren’t the only dangers out there for a runner. Use the same caution running at night as you would walking in an unfamiliar area. Avoid dark, isolated places and be on your guard against suspicious activity. If someone makes you uncomfortable, adjust your route and steer clear.

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