Not all of us have time to run in the best conditions. Sometimes it’s a little cold, sometimes it’s slippery or wet, and sometimes it’s just dark. That said, though the conditions may not be perfect, you don’t need to miss out on a great workout. The important part is to make sure you’re being safe. You want to take the appropriate precautions and wear bright reflective running gear so you’re seen by passing vehicles.
Reflecting on Our History
It’s natural for us as humans to want to stay indoors as the light dims. Our ancestors would use this time to make a fire, cook food, make sure the camp is secure, and begin to wind down toward sleep. This is why the darkness naturally makes us feel tired; our bodies are programmed to sleep in these conditions. Going for a night run wasn’t usually on the list back in the cave-men times. And highly reflective gear definitely wasn’t available (not that would it protect us from predators anyway).
These days, however, the darkness doesn’t always line up with our schedule, let alone when our eyes want to shut. This can bring a problem for scheduling our running, cycling, or walking workouts. If you’re the type of person who’s at work all day or looking after the kids then the evening, night time or early morning can be the only possibility for exercise. Others may find that they simply have more energy later on or enjoy running at this time.
One of the big reasons that a lot of people are opposed to running at the late hours of the night or early hours of the morning is because of visibility. Not just our visibility, but those of motorcyclists and drivers. You hear the horror stories of a car hurtling down the road and missing a runner by mere inches because they were dressed head to toe in grey or black. Don’t become another statistic in an educational roadside safety course. Make sure you’re covered with some kind of reflective gear.
Exercising in the Dark Hours
Some people swear by it and love getting up early staying up late at night for a run or bike ride. They find it fits in better with their and schedule and lifestyle.
A lot of early morning runners or bikers say that they have the most amount of energy when they wake up. They haven’t spent any effort on work, family or household chores and they’re ready for the day ahead without any brain fog or distractions getting in the way. This energy can also be channeled as a form of transportation to wherever you need to get that day. Instead of taking the car, bus or train, an early morning run or bike ride is great for getting your mental cogs turning and setting you up for a healthy day ahead. Once you’ve got to your destination that’s it; you’ve got your exercise done and dusted for the day and it’s off your mind.
Running at night can deliver similar benefits by using it as a commute home from work. You can use that stress you may have worked up over the course of the day to fuel your workout. After the run, you then feel refreshed and rejuvenated knowing you’ve released your worries. Not only this but it works up your appetite for dinner so that you’re good and hungry when the meal rolls around. Most people find that exercise makes them want to eat healthier so if you’re the type of person who likes to snack on some less optimal foods after a long day in the office then running after your shift can help combat this.
Stay Safe, Stay Reflective
Again, the next step is to stay safe out there. It’s all well and good trying to keep your body in shape with a long jog but that means nothing if you get injured, or worse, killed. It takes a huge amount of time for a car to stop once it sees you. Make sure they have a lot of warning. Reflective running gear massively increases your visibility and is a priority for any outdoor activity.
When you run in the dark you need to be more alert to your surroundings. You need to know what’s happening around you and that means going without music; wearing headphones is a common and dangerous mistake. You also need to be wrapped up nice and warm if the weather calls for it. This can cause issues the further you get into your run as you can overheat or lose too much water from sweating. This is why what you wear makes all the difference. You need to be at the right temperature, be comfortable and also bright and visible to those around you with a reflective vest or some reflective bands.
Running, walking, or cycling at night doesn’t have to be dangerous. It might be the only time you can fit a workout into your busy schedule. Just make sure you’re safe, seen, and prepared!