Five Tips For Running at Night in the Dark

Running in the dark is inevitable this time of year. Here's how to do it safely.

Night running

Night running image via Shutterstock

As the calendar turns from October to November and daylight savings time ends, the same sinking feeling comes over nearly every Bostonian. The city’s runners, in particular, are stuck in a catch-22: Early risers and post-work joggers alike are forced to go running at night, in the darkness, which is a depressing and potentially dangerous predicament. We asked Dan Fitzgerald, co-owner and founder of the South End Athletic Company, for his tips on how to deal—and stay safe.

Invest in the right gear: Fitzgerald’s suggestion for staying safe in the dark is reflective clothing. “Almost every piece that’s designed for running these days has some sort of reflective bit in it,” he says. “It’s a lot more visible than you’d think, and obviously the brighter the color, the [more you] benefit.” Fitzgerald says Massachusetts-based Saucony has great options for nighttime running, including the traffic cone orange ViziPro reflective line and the Ulti-Mitt, gloves that include a rechargeable light for dark running.

Play by the rules: “Following the rules of the road, I think, is much more important in the dark night where it’s probably best to assume you’re not going to be seen, no matter what you’re wearing,” Fitzgerald says. In other words, stay on the sidewalk and take those extra few seconds to pause at intersections.

Choose your route wisely: Though the Esplanade is a runner’s paradise during the day, Fitzgerald notes that it’s not the safest in the dark. Instead, he suggests running up and down Massachusetts Avenue and crossing the Cambridge connector, or doing laps of the Common.

Stay warm: Layering is key in dark and cold, Fitzgerald says. “Usually just [start with] a nice light wicking layer, something that pulls the sweat off you, and if it’s really cold, a warmth layer, something that will trap the heat,” he suggests. “Over that, you just want to wear a shell layer of some kind.” Fitzgerald recommends Craft, a company with North American operations based in Beverly, for warming layers.

Find your motivation: Motivation can be in short supply when looking out the window and seeing a pitch black sky, but Fitzgerald says signing up for races to give yourself a training goal can help, as can running with friends. “Holding yourself accountable to others and using whatever avenue that is, either running groups or friends, is a great way to do it,” he says.