Running at night

Tips for running at night

Amon Fearon - February 20, 2023

Running is a key component of training to make athletes better. Achieving peak performance can often involve early morning runs and evening exercise. But throughout the year, especially in winter, the days get dark, which may disrupt your running routine. There are many benefits to training in low light but it also comes with obstacles you should know about at night. So whether you’re just starting out or looking for those marginal gains, it’s important to prepare for running at night to be fully covered for the ups and downs on the path ahead.


Is it good to run at night?

Cooler temperatures: While you can train in hot weather, it’s not always pleasant and risks include overheating and severe dehydration. The temperature cools at night so conditions are sometimes more suitable for runners.

Less busy: It’s difficult to find time when you have a busy schedule. However, there are less interruptions in the early morning and night. This means you’re less likely to compromise the length of your run and may find it easier to focus on things like breathing technique and cadence to improve. Outdoor spaces are also less occupied to give your run a better flow, that is, less stopping, starting and weaving around people.

Better sleep: If you feel tired after running or struggle to get quality sleep, running at night a few hours before bed may help you to fall asleep and get the deep sleep necessary to wake up refreshed.

Some people report running faster and longer later in the day. This is likely attributable to eating plenty of food for energy well before a run. By contrast, waking up in the early hours for a run leaves you with an empty stomach and getting a pre-nutrition boost takes time to be broken down in the body.

Self-consciousness is a factor that can prevent people from running in public spaces. You should always be cautious of the dangers at night but if you plan your route with safety in mind you may find lower light levels and fewer people more liberating.


Night time running tips

Whether you’re a night owl, short on time, prefer colder runs, or simply want to try something new, you’ll benefit from these tips for running at night.

Wear reflective running gear

When your route includes road running, it’s crucial that cars can spot you easily from a distance. So grab high-vis gear such as reflective running jackets and joggers. Additionally, wear a banded headlamp so you have a backup source of light if you need to pass through darker areas or run against traffic.

Layer up

As we mentioned earlier, it gets cooler at night, and temperatures can be unforgiving during winter runs. Prepare for heavier rain, wind, and freezing conditions with base layers and outer layers. These should be lightweight as to not hinder performance and offer enhanced breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics to remove trapped sweat.

Plan your route for safety

It’s important to have a good bearing on where you are at night in case you encounter potential problems that warrant a detour. So, stick to familiar routes that are not isolated or absent of light. Parks, alleyways, and canals are mostly a no-go. Instead, choose an area lit with street lamps with plenty of space to manoeuvre and nearby shops or residents. Many supermarkets, takeaways, and theatres stay open for night time customers so you can use these as key markers to give you easy access to help if needed along your route. Also, fitness apps like Strava allow you to notify others of your live location. You can pick a safety contact who will receive a text message with a link to view your activity in real-time. They’ll be able to see your current location, past location, and where you started recording.

Find a partner or running group

Remember, safety in numbers. Going out with other runners is not only a great way to stay safe but you can hold each other accountable for performance, as well as increase overall visibility, alertness and morale. It’s tempting to slow down and destress from the day. A group will motivate you to keep momentum while stopping for breaks if you need a breather. Unless you’re with someone already, it’s not recommended to stop and talk to others while out.

Avoid headphones

When you lose your senses you become more susceptible to potential threats. There's much less visibility at night so you need to be mindful of surroundings. Listen out for anything or anyone in all directions so you're not caught out by surprises.