Hey…be careful out there okay?

Warning: Dead horse ahead. This is a topic that has been discussed over and over again. I’m sure it’s even something I’ve mentioned before. However after my run yesterday morning, I feel the need to reiterate it again, especially as the days have grown shorter with the time change. 

Obviously I’m talking about running safety and more specifically safety in the dark and/or bad weather. Because we all know that we are crazy and an active volcano couldn’t keep us from our long run.

One nice thing about the time change is that sunrise happens at 6:30am rather than 7:30. This means when I get home from my runs that start prior to 6am, it’s light outside. BUT it is still black as pitch when I go out and yesterday was no different. Another thing about yesterday…it was a really unseasonably warm 60 degrees. I wore shorts and a long sleeved tech shirt and regretted the long sleeves about a mile in. With the weird, warm, humid temps there came fog that you could cut through with a knife.

It was actually pretty cool to run in the fog even if I was having a mini heart attack every 5 minutes or so when a weird shape would come into view that could be a mailbox, tree stump, deer, another runner, or an axe murderer. There’s not a whole lot of street lights around here which made it especially hard to tell.

Because it was right around 6am, there was a fair amount of cars driving past with people starting their morning commute as I ran on the sidewalk along one of my usual routes. Sometimes I will run in the street, but on a morning like this when the visibility was really poor I never would have chanced it. I figured not a lot of people would if they had a sidewalk option. I was wrong. A weird shape materialized out of the fog and I had maybe 20 seconds of playing ‘Mailbox, Deer, or Murderer’ before I realized it was another runner. I probably would have seen her sooner if she hadn’t been dressed in all dark clothes or wearing any sort of reflective gear at all. As she got nearer I saw that she was running in the street, with the flow of traffic. And earbuds in.

I’m not one of those people that makes weirdo claims about someone not being a real runner if they wear earbuds. I like to listen to music on a very low level unless I’m doing speed work. I don’t know what kind of volume her music was set to, but having the earbuds in at all with her back to traffic and dressed like a ninja in the dark and fog seemed like a bad idea.

Please don’t do this.

The road we were on has a 35MPH speed limit, but people drive MUCH faster. In fact it was the road where I came upon this scenario a couple months ago. I probably should have stopped her and suggested she use the sidewalk, but I didn’t want to overstep any boundaries. I hope the next time I see her – and I will see her again because she’s a regular around here – that it’s not the same scene.

In the meantime, please:

  • Dress for visibility. I know we all love our neon. Reflective vests or bands are great investments too. Currently I am obsessed with this jacket from New Balance. It is probably disappointing in real life, but all the photos I’ve seen of it are so cool. (Can anyone confirm this?)
  • Wear or carry lights. I just ordered knuckle lights for the winter so people can see me, but also so I can see freaking ANYTHING. My neighborhood is so dark. I’m lucky I haven’t tripped and busted myself up recently. (It already happened once last year.)
  • Run against traffic. It’s a lot easier to get out of the way of a car if you can see it coming toward you.
  • I know some people are anti-sidewalk because it’s harder on the legs, but on dark, twisty roads if you have the option I feel it’s best to take it.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you listen to music it doesn’t need to be the soundtrack to your whole life. Keep the volume to a background level.
  • Let someone know where you are going and always carry some kind of identification, wear a RoadID, or if you run with your smart phone, RoadID has a great free app that even has tracking so someone will always know your whereabouts.


Do you have any other tips for running in the dark? What is your favorite piece of safety gear? 




73 thoughts on “Hey…be careful out there okay?

  1. Annie at TheLittleGSP.com says:

    Thanks for the tips! Definitely agree with your advice of not dressing like a ninja and running with your back to traffic while wearing earbuds in the dark… sheesh!! 🙂 I got knuckle lights a few weeks ago and I love them! They are super bright, so much so that I’ve been happy running with just one of them. I also have a reflective vest, yellow strappy thing that makes me look like a crossing guard, AND a flashy beacon light. All of this combined with a neon shirt makes me look like a super running nerd but at least I’m visible!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I am so excited to get mine. I don’t remember it being this dark last year when I was out there, but this year I’m pretty much running blind. (Maybe I just need to get my prescription adjusted on my glasses haha.) You definitely sound visible! I love it. 🙂

  2. Running Boston and Beyond says:

    We do not have sidewalks where I live and it’s extremely frustrating and dangerous and I don’t understand why they didn’t put them in. Boggles my mind. I will wear light clothes in the dark and have two neon jackets that people on the international space station can see. I’d like to know more about those knuckle lights- I hate carrying things but that sounds simple.
    As for the other runner, some people will just never get it.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I totally agree! There are so many places that I wish I could run around here, but won’t chance it because it would just be way too unsafe. But they are still relatively residential too so the lack of sidewalks is pretty baffling.
      I am normally not a fan of hand carrying anything although I got pretty used to the little water bottle I carried for marathon training/summer running so I figured the knuckle lights would be similar.

  3. DarlinRae says:

    I know it seems like everyone should know this, but apparently they don’t. I’ve been seeing a LOT of runners in my area totally unequipped for the conditions they’re running in. Wearing dark colored clothes and not having a light and running at dusk is simply not a good choice.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Some of my running clothes are a little darker in color, but on the odd morning that I end up with one of those pieces on those are the times I strap on my neon pink reflective arm bands or some other bright accent. Even if I’m running on the sidewalk. I learned a couple months ago that cars don’t even like to stay off the sidewalks around here.

  4. bluecoyotelifecoaching says:

    This topic might be a ‘dead horse’ but I do agree it bears repeating. I can’t believe how many people I see just taking the ‘crosswalk right of way’ for granted. If you’re running in the road, at least look before you cross a side street – especially during dusk and pre-dawn runs. Cars won’t stop if they don’t know you’re there.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Exactly. It’s so important to stay alert. I feel like I am more alert about runners and cyclists when I’m driving simply because I’m a runner too, but so many other people aren’t and wouldn’t think about that while they are behind the wheel.

  5. SuzLyfe says:

    I was thinking about this today, and how glad that I am that my running hat is flourescent lime green. a) I love the color, b) you can’t miss me. It really is a time when #idontdoquiet is so necessary

  6. Aero bars and Micro brews says:

    I get so angry with people who are not safe. Gives us runners a bad name sometimes. I love wearing my headlamp on at night. I should have a vest also, but the headlamp is on strobe when I am in the road and is bright enough. I make comments to the “ninjas” of the night/morning cause I dont want to see them on the news.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I hope you see this comment because I have always wondered about headlamps. Is it comfortable? I did the knuckle thing because I feel like I would be less bothered by it, but headlamps intrigue me.

      I really should have said something to that girl. I’m sure she’s okay because I haven’t heard anything, but I hope she doesn’t do it again.

      • runsaltrun says:

        Awesome! Thank you. I am still in search of a winter hat I like, but in summer I run in visors normally. And I live in lovely, scenic, bad reputationy Baltimore. 🙂

  7. Aubrey says:

    This speaks so much truth to me! I have yet to do many run in the winter outside. Im just not that into being out in the cold even though running is going to warm me up I prefer the treadmill the the winter months. I just got my shoes studded for the winter months YAYE. but unfortunately Anchorage, ALASKA has yet to have but one snowfall and we are in the middle of November with no snow on the ground it’s crazy. Here its dark by 5 pm and its stays that way at least till about 10 am right now so wearing bright colors speaks to me.. I enjoy reading your blog!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I’m all about running in the cold, but I can’t even imagine what running in Alaska would be like! I have another blog friend that lives there too and I am still trying to wrap my brain around the length of the days up there! All the more reason to wear neon though. 🙂

      (And thanks! I love your blog too!)

  8. Rebecca Jo says:

    OK – so I literally thought there was going to be a picture of a dead horse ahead.. haha… that’s what happens when you live in the country like me – dead animals are a normal sighting – haha!
    But living on a country road – this is VERY important – we have no street lights, there are small hilly roads – so dangerous.

    • runsaltrun says:

      As I typed it I wondered if anyone would expect a picture like that. 🙂
      I don’t live in the country and yet you would think I did based on the lack of street lights around here. Where you live sounds similar to me and I’m like 10 minutes outside of Baltimore!

  9. Michele @ PaleoRunningMomma says:

    Those are all great tips. I see people doing this way too often and many of them who are regular runners. I wear reflective clothing as well as a headlamp since I’m in the dark every morning. And always run against traffic because even with the lights on, you do have to get out of the way sometimes and you can’t do this if you’re running with traffic. Also, no music for me except for long runs, and then I have it on pretty low so I can hear what’s around me. Definitely a subject that needs a lot of attention.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I was really surprised when I saw the girl who was doing this because she IS a regular runner around here. I feel uncomfortable with the traffic to my back if I’m running on the sidewalk…I would be a total basketcase if I were running in the road that way!

  10. FLRunnerBoy says:

    Excellent write up Salt!!! Runner safety can never be posted about enough!!! All of those are excellent tips. I’m a Brooks guy I’m sure you know and a 5:00am runner so the Brooks nightlife line is my favorite apparel and my life line … LITERALLY! I run in the long sleeve neon green tech shirts typically and if it’s a bit cooler I opt for the neon orange jacket. And my shoes are neon orange pure drifts.

  11. Shannon says:

    So I’m not a runner but I have to say one of my biggest pet peeves is when I see runners running in the street when there is a perfectly good sidewalk to use. Our main 2 lane road to get to my house constantly has runners in the road (where there are also cars parked and even less road space) as opposed to the sidewalk. My husband and I were complaining last night about people running in the road while it was dark out. It’s just so unsafe not just for the runners but the drivers.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Sidewalks hurt my legs (concrete vs asphalt) so if I have the safe option to run in the road I will, but on this particular road and most of the other ones around here the sidewalk is definitely the safer option. Especially in the dark.

  12. Lauren @ ihadabiglunch says:

    I always always run with my iphone flashlight on. It’s small but mighty! Also THANK YOU For being a proponent of the “run AGAINST traffic” idea. So many people don’t think that way and I think they’re nuts! Hello, you can jump out of the way then if something goes wrong!! Safety is so important and people don’t even realize it. I should definitely invest in some reflective gear ASAP

    • runsaltrun says:

      Until today I didn’t realized how many people didn’t understand the whole against traffic thing. I always thought it was pretty obvious (I feel uncomfortable with traffic at my back even if I’m not on the road), but I guess not! Is the flashlight for the iPhone thing an app? I need it!

  13. FLRunnerBoy says:

    Reblogged this on FLRunnerBoy and commented:
    As runners we can’t think about or talk about road safety enough. After all no one is going to look out for ourselves but us. This post by Run Salt Run provides all with some basic but significant reminders. Reminders that can keep us all safe. Please read this excellent write up and remember … RUN FAST … RUN FREE … RUN HAPPY!!! 🙂 but most of all … RUN SAFE!!!

  14. Sweaty Mess says:

    Isn’t running against traffic covered in Running 101. I just don’t get it when people don’t. I have a pink reflective vest, but I’m thinking I need knuckle lights because the street lamps in my neighborhood light up nothing.

  15. charissarunning says:

    Very very good advice. I definitely prefer not to run in the dark because I tend to trip a lot, but I will probably have to at times this winter because my treadmill just doesn’t do the same for me as outdoor running. Looking into buying some reflective gear right now! Stay safe 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      I love the treadmill, but running outside really is so much more awesome. I love running in the dark though! Especially when the moon is still up and you can see all the stars. So pretty! (Although yeah I do have to be way more careful because I’m pretty trippy myself.)

  16. Shawna says:

    crazy that you wrote about this today b/c i was thinking about it this morning, as i set out to run before the sun rose for the second time so far this season. definitely good advice. i don’t have any reflective gear but probs should invest in some. the worst thing that’s happened to me running in the dark is one time last year when i (obviously) couldn’t see the black ice and i slammed down on the pavement. ouch.

  17. laurenwayjurlee says:

    Great reminder! I wear neon colors, reflective gear (if I’ve done laundry and its clean), and I wear a blinking light on my waistband in the back so that people can see me from behind. I have this obnoxious neon yellow jacket that I love to wear when it gets cold!

  18. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine says:

    All such important tips! It was SO foggy yesterday and even in the city where its well lit I made sure to stay on the sidewalks and along the harbor where there are no cars. I don’t run with music, and my entire running wardrobe is pretty bright and reflective:)

  19. Hailey @ Striding Strong says:

    Great reminder! I usually run in an unusually large bike lane…it pretty much looks like another lane for traffic because the driveway slants of the sidewalk throw my hips off and one calf. I always go against traffic no matter what time of day it is and some of the bikers don’t like me in “their” lane and shout “you’re on the wrong side”, but I don’t like to take chances with the cars and it’s not like it not large enough to share, plus I always hop onto the sidewalk to make sure I’m not in their way while they pass me. Stay safe out there! 🙂

  20. Judith / soveryslightlymad says:

    I have that NB jacket in orange and it’s awesome. Not only is it reflective, it glows in the dark if you charge it under lights for about 15 minutes. You can’t miss me in it. I do tend to run places where there are sidewalks or running paths because I get so tense running on busy streets, even with a generous shoulder. Running tense is not fun and I’m lucky to have other options, even if I have to drive a little (as opposed to walking out my front door) to get to them.

    • runsaltrun says:

      YESSSSSSSSS OMG YOU MADE MY NIGHT. Okay I am adding it to my Christmas list. Ever since I saw that jacket I have been in love with it, but wondered if it was really that visible. I’m so glad it is working out so well for you!

      I wish I had some drivable options, but where I run around here is really the safest. Unless I want to do the trail, but there is no light out there and I’d be even more worried about axe murderers.

  21. irishrunnerchick says:

    You know these tips seem like common sense but I see so many people running ninja style. I’m paranoid about this because I’ve had inattentive drivers not see me in broad daylight. I wear a super bright headlamp and a completely dorky looking reflective vest.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Honestly as I was writing this last night I was thinking about oh how obvious this would be for people, but then discussing it online and with friends earlier today I realized that people really don’t think about these things. I would much rather look like the most giant dork and be safe. 🙂

  22. Lake Shore Runner says:

    Great post and a definite good reminder to all runners. I sometimes take for granted my surroundings and think I am invincible. Today I traded in the frigid lake shore path for the treadmill. But I know there will be many more outside runs to come at dark o’thirty in the morning. Thanks for the tips!

  23. Fallon @ Slacker Runner says:

    All true! I come from work in total darkness and have seen a few people running in the street wearing all dark clothing. Why did that seem ok? There is a sidewalk on both sides of street and zero street lights on this particular street. Tonight I spotted someone running with traffic, he had a headlamp on but he wasn’t visible until I was almost level with him and I was going the opposite direction. Darkness sends me to the treadmill.

  24. missadventuresinrunning says:

    I definitely agree! I wear a super bright headlamp. (Yes, it actually says SUPER bright.) Just bought an orange reflective jacket, that is lightweight and perfect these mornings where you start cold and warm up, then just got a lighted armband in this month’s stridebox! Safety first!

  25. Change of Pace says:

    Always a good reminder, no matter how many times it’s been said.
    I have these slap bracelet type reflectors that work really well, so I can wear them on my arms, my wrists, my ankles, wherever.
    The other week I saw a guy riding his bike on the highway, in the dark, wearing all black, and without a helmet!! And he looked like a true cyclist. I hope he smartens up before something bad happens.

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