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Running in the Dark: 7 Tips for Staying Safe

When we launched Run Charlotte Run back in July it was the middle of summer and our focus was on keeping you cool through hot, sweaty runs. With the end of Daylight Savings Time, we're now on the opposite end of the spectrum and it's time to talk about staying safe and warm through the winter months with their shorter days.

For most runners with full-time day jobs, running in the dark is inevitable this time of year. It's dark when you wake up to get ready for work, it's dark when you head home from work. Today we're going to cover general safety tips for running in the dark and later this week we'll share some of our favorite picks for gear that makes sure you get seen.


(Photo: The Triple C Beer Runners meet year-round for their Thursday night group run.)

7 Tips for Staying Safe in Dark 

  1. Light yourself up. Running in the dark calls for all the reflective gear and flashing lights you can find. This is not the time to worry about making a fashion statement, you just want to be seen. Who cares if wearing a reflective vest can make you double as a safety guard? Being seen is better than being sorry.
  2. Run against traffic. It sounds counterintuitive but it's one of the best safety measures you can take. Running against traffic gives you the power to move out of the way when a car is coming instead of relying on a car coming up behind you to see you and go around you.
  3. Unplug. This is not the time to have your headphones in blasting your favorite playlist. Head to the treadmill if you just have to have music. When you're running in the dark, it's imperative that you're aware of your surroundings. This will help protect you from both cars and any other potential dangers.
  4. Carry your mobile phone. Yes, we just told you to unplug but carrying your phone with you is a great security measure so that you can make a call if you find yourself lost, cold or in an unsafe situation.
  5. Share your running plans. Let someone know that you are heading out for a run and how long you'll be gone.
  6. Stick to a familiar, well-lit route. This is not the time to run on remote trails or dark streets. Pick routes that you know well and that are likely to have other runners/walkers out too.
  7. Run with a friend or running group. Safety in numbers is a good thing when it comes to running in the dark. Recruit a friend to be your winter running partner or join a local running group. We have tons of running groups here in Charlotte that meet year-round. Check out our Running Groups resource page for more information.