Tips for Running at Night

With the summer heat in the air, more and more runners are opting to get their mileage in at night.  If you’re like me, you find it hard to get out there before work, so night runs become regular.  Waiting until the sun goes down certainly has its benefits; less heat, less traffic, less noise.  But, there are some things that you will want to watch out for heading out into the night.

Humidity Although the temperature falls at night, the humidity often rises.  Why does this happen?  Relative humidity is a term used to describe the amount of water vapor in a mixture of air and water vapor.  The relative humidity of air is a function of both its water content and temperature.  Temperatures drop at night once the sun goes down and relative humidity therefore increases.  While running at night gets you away from the sun, it may be more difficult to breathe due to the increase in humidity.  You will have to decide for yourself if it’s worth the trade-off.  Of course, this all depends on where you live.  Here in North Carolina, humidity can make running feel like swimming.  But, in Arizona it’s drier than a cork leg (day or night).
Sight – If you have a regular route that you are considering running at night, keep a mental note of potholes, speed bumps, and debris.  Remember this while you trek the same path in the dark.  Not only is it important to see where you’re going, but also for others to see where you’re going.  Get a cheap headlamp to wear at night.  You can find inexpensive headlamps from Wal-Martor Bass Pro Shops.  I’ve been using the Energizer Head Beam to light my path.  So far it has worked great and has even withstood a torrential downpour of rain during a thunderstorm.  There are also reflective and lighted armbandsthat simply wrap around your arm and emit light from LEDs; these can help to alert drivers as well.
Listen – Some runners will tell you not to listen to music while running at night.  This is probably not a bad idea, considering that one of your chief senses (vision) has already been enormously impaired.  What you don’t have in sight, you can (sort of) make up for in sound.  Be careful to listen for bikes, cars, animals, and other runners; you are not the only one out there.  Run facing traffic so that you don’t have any surprises coming up behind you.  With these new hybrid vehicles, you won’t hear them until they are a few feet away.
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Defend Yourself –   Carrying mace or pepper spray is not only a great defense against criminals, but animals too.  Although I am an animal-lover, I would be quick to spray a dog that was coming at me with a foaming mouth.  Recently, a California woman was attacked by dogs and unfortunately didn’t make it to the hospital.  While I don’t blame animals, these incidents do happen and we need to be aware of the dangers.  At night, it can be even more difficult to see an attack coming; this is another reason why it is important to keep your ears open.  I do not recommend carrying a knife.  For one, knives can be bulky.  But, also knives can be fatally dangerous if you were to fall.  If you do decide to carry a blade, be sure to check with your local and state laws.
These have just been a few tips to keep you safe while running at night.  Do you prefer to run at night during the hot summer months?  What are some things that you would add to this list?
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