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What To Wear For Safe Night Running

Updated on December 27, 2012

Keep On Running Outside When Darkness Falls

The start of winter often leads to decreases in levels of light and an earlier fall of darkness. This can pose a challenge for both seasoned runners and beginners in terms of adaptation to the conditions.

Running outdoors at night provides a freedom that is seldom offered by many other sports as darkness hits. It sends many cyclists indoors but runners can thrive in the darkness. As long as they have the right clothing for running in the dark.

Getting Home From Work In The Dark Is Never A Good Motivator

As you arrive home from work at 18:00 hrs and it's already dark. The log fire and latest episode of Mad Men, Scrubs, Coronation Street or whatever your guilty pleasure is going to start soon. But you really, really need to go for a run.

It takes a huge degree of commitment to continue running on those cold, dark and sometimes wet nights. It adds further challenge to your training. With a few choice purchases and attention to what you purchase for your daytime running apparel you could kit yourself out for winter and night-time running to beat the elements whilst staying focused on your training.

This article will introduce you to some of the must have (and supplementary) items and gear for night time running

Cover Up Those Knees For Winter Running Health

Get those knees covered up for winter to maintain your running health
Get those knees covered up for winter to maintain your running health | Source

Cover Up Those Knees

Where we live there's a competition within the Postal Service between the Posties as to who can stay in their shorts for the longest period time each year. Some even make it all the way through the year in their shorts. And some local runners fight for similar honours.

Can you go year round in just your shorts? And realistically should you?

As a runner your knees are very important to you. Exposing them to the elements is a sure-fire way to knee problems in future. The synovial fluid which is responsible for keeping your knee joint working smoothly can be affected by extreme cold and lead to future health problems. Get those knees covered up.

Keep Your Night Time Runs As Your Shorter Runs

Due to the decreased safety and visibility when running at night. Don't just think about yourself as drivers need to negotiate the more challenging driving conditions too. No matter how visible you make yourself for night time running it's not going to be close to the level of visibility seen during daylight hours.

Keep your longer runs for daytime hours when you'll be taking far fewer chances and stick to steady runs of less than an hour unless you're on closed tracks or in a local park which is a controlled environment.

Lose The Headphones For Night Time Running

Stop wearing those headphones for night time runs. Your ears are a vital sense and there's a high possibility you'll need their use when running at night. Save the headphones and loud music for daylight hours when you can be more visibly aware of what's going on around you.

Nike Shield Winter Running Vest

A high visibility running vest with reflective piping to help in dark conditions. Including water repellent coating to hold off the elements
A high visibility running vest with reflective piping to help in dark conditions. Including water repellent coating to hold off the elements | Source

Go Hi Viz With A Gilet. Including Reflective Piping For Visibility

A hi viz vest is a great investment for night time running. A gillet will allow your arms freedom of movement and your body to be visible to motorists and other road users. On cold winter nights a mid weight or wind proof vest top will help preserve your core temperature too.

If you're on a budget and don't wish to spend a fortune on a running specific high visibility vest you could always borrow one from work or pick up a more simplistic workman's version for peanuts at a local hardware shop.

Your priority for running at night is to be seen and safe- not fashion statements.

Layer Up And Check The Weather Forecast

Dressing right for your running conditions is a big part of the battle as when you're running at night there's no sun to provide warmth and subsequently air temperatures can plummet as a result.

Therefore be prepared to run in temperatures which feel cooler than those during the day time.

Light UP Your Life For Night Time Running

A couple of items you might want to consider depending on your night running requirements are.

  1. Head Torch. Not a requirement but a good additional item to have if you're heading into the woods in a group (XC Night running is awesome but takes some cojones). A good head torch will help to cut through the darkness on quite, dark country roads to light up your way and choose a safe route. Oncoming motorists can also see the main beam to attract their attention to be aware of the presence of something up ahead.
  2. Rear Flashing LED Light. Cars and bicycles need rear lights at night so for a runner it makes sense to have one too for additional visibility to other road and path users from a far. Look for LED's that will clip to the back of your jacket or alternately flashing, reflective LED armbands are a great way at enhancing your visibility to others and can go round your upper arm or ankles for improved 360 degree visibility.

Rear LED's And Visibility Aids For Runners

Nathan Clip-On Deluxe L.E.D. Safety Strobe
Nathan Clip-On Deluxe L.E.D. Safety Strobe

Attaching with a simple, sturdy clip. This rear light will enhance your visibility to other road users.


What Additional Winter Running Gear Do You Use?

We're always looking for your feedback

Please feel free to leave your comments in the box below. We would love to hear from you

Enjoy your night time runs

Liam Hallam - CyclingFitness


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    • CyclingFitness profile imageAUTHOR

      Liam Hallam 

      6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks judi- in the long term your joints will thank you and it can help limit the risk of joint problems. Thank you for your comment

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      6 years ago from UK

      Never considered the importance of covering up my knees in colder weather. Good tip.

    • CyclingFitness profile imageAUTHOR

      Liam Hallam 

      6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks Leslie, glad you appreciated. CF

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Good hub and very informative!! Voted up!!

    • CyclingFitness profile imageAUTHOR

      Liam Hallam 

      6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks INFJay- we've all had a near miss and I think it's a big responsibility of a runner (or cyclists) to take ownership for their appearance for winter running- visibility is a key characteristic of that. Many thanks for your feedback.

    • INFJay profile image

      Jay Manriquez 

      6 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      Excellent advice! I can't tell you the number of times I've been driving and come near to hititng a runner or cyclist for wearing dark clothing and no reflective gear or lighting. Thanks.


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