A few years ago, a childhood friend of mine was running very early in the morning, before the sun had come up. She was running at a park in San Francisco when she was hit by a car. The car fled the scene and my friend was left in a ditch by the side of the road unconscious for hours before she was found. Unfortunately it was too late to save her and she died shortly after. What’s more, she had no identification on her, so she was Jane Doe for hours in the hospital while her family had no idea what had happened. The only way the authorities were finally able to identify her was through her ipod – Apple was able to look up who it was registered to.
I’m not telling you this story to make you paranoid, but rather to get the point across of how important it is to take extra safety precautions when running in the dark. Sometimes we have no choice – especially during the winter when it is dark late into the morning and early into the night – but to run in the dark. No matter if you are an early morning runner or evening runner, if you are running in the dark, there are some extra safety precautions you should take.
1. Wear light colors and reflective clothing. Good colors to wear at night are white, orange, or yellow. It’s also a good idea to invest in reflective gear, such as a vest. Some items such as running shoes and jackets come with reflective pieces on them, but you can never wear too much! I would also recommend running with a headlamp. This not only helps other people see you, but it helps you see where you are going.
2. Leave your ipod at home. If you must listen to music, turn it down very low so that you can hear cars, cyclists, dogs, or people approaching you.
3. Always carry ID. If you don’t want to carry your driver’s license with you, a good investment is a Road ID tag. Simply attach it to your shoe and you don’t have to even think about it – it’s already there for every run.
4. Run with a friend. Sadly, women have to be a bit more concerned about safety, and there is safety in numbers. Get a group of women together to run with, or find a local running group in your area to join. If you must run alone, tell someone the route you are running and approximately how long you will be gone.
5. Run someplace well-populated or well-lit. A college or high school track is a good option because it is usually lit at night and may have security officers patrolling the campus.
6. Avoid busy roads and those with no shoulders or sidewalks. If you are running on a road, make sure you always stay on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, find another street to run on that does have one. Also, if you are running on a road, run against traffic. It is easier to avoid cars if you can see them coming.
7. Consider varying your running routes and times. Potential attackers can study runner’s routines and loom in a particularly dark or isolated area. Don’t make yourself an easy target.
8. Carry a cell phone in case you need to contact the police.