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Thursday, October 4, 2012

(Mis)adventures in nighttime* running

Edited to add #7.

*"Nighttime" to include any time that it's dark.  So 4 a.m. = nighttime.

The advent of fall's shorter days combined with the resumption of my running routine means that I'm spending a lot of time these days running in the dark.  It definitely has some pluses -- I don't have to feel self-conscious because no one can see me, the temperatures are cooler, it feels kind of badass -- but there are some negatives as well.

1. Headlamps only work if you bring them.  I met up with my friend Patrick on evening last week to run trails.  I grabbed my headlamp and left it on the couch.  He'd been out on his bike all day and didn't have his.  It gets dark fast on the trails.  We managed about a mile running before good sense mandated that our run transition to a quick hike.

Source.  (Not me.)
2.  Drivers can't see you if you dress like a ninja.  I don't do it on purpose, but somehow I always end up dressed all in black for my night runs.  Probably because 90% of my running clothes are black.  Not a great safety move, though the weapons might help me feel better about #3...

3. Bad guys lurk in the shadows. I've never had a problem with anyone bothering me on a night run.  I stick to my neighborhood, and I run with our big dog who is a teddy bear but I'm pretty sure would rip the throat out of anyone who tried to hurt me.  Still, bad things can happen, and even though I don't let that knowledge keep me inside, it does weigh on my mind a little.

4.  Sneaky sidewalk cracks.  I don't fall often on the sidewalks, only three times I can think of, but falling on the concrete hurts way worse than on the trails.  All of my sidewalk falls have been at night when I've caught my foot on an uneven spot in the sidewalk.  This makes me a lot more tentative when running at night.  I run in the street for stretches where I know the sidewalks are bad, which isn't smart in light of #2, but I do run facing traffic and watching out for headlights.

5.  Speaking of headlights... There you are, running along and seeing just fine thanks to the combination of moonlight and streetlights, when a car drives by and blinds you.  Is it too much to ask that people avoid driving when I'm running in the dark?  It is?  Damn.


Source.
6.  Skunks are nocturnal.  Our neighborhood has a major skunk problem.  It's not a normal run if I don't see at least one skunk. Wednesday morning I saw three in the first mile.  One of these days I'll wear my heart rate monitor and be able to see the spike when I come around a corner or pass a bush and come face to face with one of these guys.  And my dog doesn't share my terror of being sprayed healthy respect.

7.  Invisible branches.  Wednesday morning (it was a rough start to the day) I ran under a tree, ducking to avoid the leafy branches in my way.  If I hadn't ducked, the leafless one probably would have stabbed me in the eye, but instead it slid into my hair and I was caught in the tree.  Eventually I got free without losing too much hair.  Or an eye. 
What about you? Do you run at night?  Love it? Hate it?  Any tips for the rest of us?

13 comments:

  1. Oh good lord, SK, you have me worried for your safety now!! I'm not going to be able to sleep a wink tonight worrying about you and your night runs in the dark with weirdos and skunks everywhere. Please be careful...and buy a treadmill and stick it in your basement for crying out loud!!! :)

    xo

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  2. Run at night often because that is when one of my partners can go. Our neighborhood is pretty quiet and doesn't seem to be infested with skunks so I don't have a lot to offer. I do really like my High Vis orange Fila running shirt (only like $18 at Kohls - less with a coupon) - it has reflective details on it. I know I should get a vest with more reflectivity though.

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  3. Most of my workouts are in the dark -- I think with repetition they got more comfortable, though all the things you wrote about still remain true. :)

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  4. I have majorly tripped (as in still have scars) twice on sidewalks, and sadly, neither time was due to lack of light.

    But I do tend to wear all black when I run at night, which is pretty fucking stupid.

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  5. As a natural night runner, I love this post. But if I'd known your neighborhood was infested with skunks I'd have gone there for lunch. I LOVE SKUNKS. I even like their smell, because I am a weirdo.

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  6. Great post. One night (6:00 a.m. in the Winter) at Queeny Park, a buddy of mine and I rounded the corner of the big field, and we noticed something up the trail ahead of us that in the earliest of dusk light kind of looked like a cat. As we ran along the trail toward it, it continued to jog along in the same direciton away from us. Sometimes, you see deer or rabbits, but this was knid of unusual. Since there are residences not too far away, I felt pretty safe with the cat assumption. In fact, we were talking about it over the distance of about 150 yards as it continued to lope along just in front of us, but it seemed like it was kind of looking at us over its shoulder. And, then, the thing stopped cold. It looked at us kind of like, "what the heck are you idiots doing running in the middle of a field in the dark running!?!" And, to be fair, it probably had a point. As the distance closed, we realized it wasn't a cat. About 20 yards from it, we both recognized the shape and the semblance of stripe. We turned and ran both laughing. At Queeny, we do multiple loops, so an hour later when we ran through there, as we were telling the story to the late crowd, you could still catch the faint scent of an irritated skunk.

    JB

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  7. I haven't done a ton of nighttime running because it's just risky enough in our neighborhood that it's not worth it. But I've had some amazing night hikes and overnight bike rides - such an endorphin kick

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  8. I do plenty of night running and run through different neighborhoods to switch things up. I just bought a clip on blinking red light that I plan to start using soon. Part of me wonders if this is worse for #3. When running along 157 I wonder if the red light gives the creeps a heads up that up ahead there is someone running at night by there self. Maybe it's better they pass us without knowing it.

    Happy running!

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  9. Interesting tips about running at night. I love to run in the dark but I do (did) through the city so I don't (didn't) risk anything. The best period to run in the dark is Xmas because of the magic atmosphere and all the lights.

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  10. Summer in New Orleans is brutal, and I have to run before the sun is up. Fortunately, we live in a really safe environment, so I'm not worried about lurkers, but the trail is really dark and when folks start heading in to work, their lights are blinding. Runners are suppose to wear reflective stuff, so I have a reflective armband, and my hubby wears a reflective belt. I also like to carry a fingerlight so I have a little something to see by when I'm blinded by headlights. No skunks here, but lots of armadillos!

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  11. I have only recently been running at "night." I do not see skunks. I do fall! The sidewalks grab me. I try to wear reflective garb but my cap with lights is wearing out and my flashlight is dying too. I think I will run at least once this week early but I am exhausted from all my early mornings last week and my very busy weekend. I need to sleep "late" at least once or twice. But not tomorrow - I hope to swim.

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  12. I have only recently been running at "night." I do not see skunks. I do fall! The sidewalks grab me. I try to wear reflective garb but my cap with lights is wearing out and my flashlight is dying too. I think I will run at least once this week early but I am exhausted from all my early mornings last week and my very busy weekend. I need to sleep "late" at least once or twice. But not tomorrow - I hope to swim.

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