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Experts Share Their Tips On Running Safely After Dark

As the days get shorter, I’m worried for my safety on runs in the dark. What should I do?

Mix Up Your Route

“It’s easy to get into a routine and always run the same route for a given mileage—especially if you are doing timed workouts that require you to cover exact distances and you feel comfortable and safe with a route you run frequently. However, running the same loop at the same time of day makes you a potential target, so try to mix it up. Run loops backward, try new out-and-back options, even drive to a new location (that you’ve researched ahead of time!). It’s also helpful to vary the exact time of day—if you can’t alternate between morning and evening, try leaving a half hour earlier or later on some days.” —Emily Long, runner, safety expert at SafeWise

Bun Up

“If you find yourself running at night, put your hair in a top knot or bun as opposed to a ponytail. Attackers often look for ponytails as they can be easier to grab.” —Katie Barrett, lead instructor at B/SPOKE Cycling Studios, certified personal trainer and USATF Level 1 running coach

Turn Down The Tunes

“I see runners and walkers with their headphones on not paying attention with their music blasting, which is a big mistake. Keep your volume down to a level where you can hear everything around you, or only use one earbud so that you’re more aware of other individuals, bicycles or vehicles and can react much faster if they enter your personal space.” —Todd Williams, former Olympic distance runner, founder of Asics RunSafer program

Bring Your Phone

“Always carry your phone on evening runs. If you get injured in the dark or feel like you’re in danger, you have the ability to call for immediate help. For added peace of mind, I recommend using the Find My Friends app to notify a friend or family member before heading out on an evening run. They can use the app to track your location and receive an alert when you safely return home.” —Jessica Reeb, certified personal trainer at Cincy 360 Fitness in Ohio and running club founder

Safety Gear

From ID bands and visibility accessories to pepper sprays, there’s a slew of products on the market to help keep you safe every time you run outside. Our top picks:

  • “Running with lighted gear when it is dark is a must. I use [the Noxgear Tracer360 lighted vest, $70) when running and get asked all of the time where I got it because it’s so visible.” —Natasha LaBeaud Anzures, Canadian elite runner, cofounder of youth running nonprofit 2nd Recess
  • “For protection, I recommend carrying a lightweight pepper spray (like the Sabre 3-in-1 Pepper Spray with Adjustable Hand Strap, $13) to ward off unwanted advances from potentially dangerous individuals or animals you may encounter. Having some form of identification is essential, whether it is a Road ID or your driver’s license.” —Jessica Reeb, personal trainer and running club founder
  • “If you want a visibility accessory you can really forget about, I love the clever Nathan LightSpur RX LED Foot Light. It clips onto the heels of your run shoes and kicks out bright, colorful LED light for up to 12 hours before it needs recharging.” —Bethany Mavis, managing editor of Women’s Running

Related:

14 Safety Reminders For Runners

Safety Tips For When You’re Running After Dark

8 Important Self-Defense Moves For Runners

Team WR

Team WR

Team WR represents the Women's Running staff and community behind the magazine and womensrunning.com. The team was created in July 2014 when Women's Running underwent its first re-design since it debuted in 2009. Collectively, Team WR has run everything, from marathon, to half, to novelty runs, to ultras, to 10K and 5K races, to obstacle events, to triathlons.