5 Lightweight Accessories Every Runner Needs at Night
Some people prefer sun set runs while others can only squeeze their workout in at the end of the day—in either case, you need the proper gear to train hard and stay safe. Running in the dark presents a new set of challenges, but if you plan ahead and have the right gear, you can protect yourself and enjoy your workout. Follow these tips to have a safe, effective nighttime workout.
Note: These items are also useful if you’re a morning person who likes to head out for your run before the sun comes up.
1. Reflective Jacket / Vest
When you run at night, you need to be seen by vehicle traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. You can invest in a wide vairiety of reflective running gear, but a running jacket or vest is all you really need. A running vests in particular is a very versatile accessory because it slips right over your clothes. Unlike a jacket or outer layer that you may remove if you get warm, running vests are thin and lightweight so you can wear them on top of your clothes, regardless of the season or temperature.
2. Flashing Lights
While a reflective vest will increase your visibility, flashing or blinking lights will make sure you can be seen by people from a distance, like by a motorist, who will be able to see you moving from far away. You can find lights and reflectors that stick to your clothing, light devices that fit around your shoe and LED armbands. Figure out which option works best for you so you never forget it when you run in the dark.
People need to see you, and you need to be able to see where you’re doing. A headlamp is perfect for nighttime runners because it fits comfortably around your head or can attach to a hat. Your headlamp will help you see the road or trail in front of you and is a convenient complement to your reflective gear:
“Paired with other reflective gear, headlamps, knuckle lights or flashlights increase your visibility among cars and help you see the ground in front of you so you don’t fall or trip,” says to Cielestia Calbay from Competitor.
4. Pepper Spray
Personal safety is a major concern when running alone at night and pepper spray is one of the best portable, self-defense accessories for a runner: “Most pepper spray comes in a two-ounce size or smaller, which makes it ideal to have clipped to your running gear. There’s even specific ‘jogger pepper spray’ with a built-in sling that secures onto your hand,” explains Dave Artman, CEO of The Home Security Superstore.
The active ingredient in pepper spray, Oleorin Capsicum, causes an attacker’s eye veins and mucus membranes to swell, which causes extreme discomfort and immobility. This gives you enough time to run away and call for help.
5. Running Armband
If you’re like most people, you run with your smartphone. Apps like RunGo, which give you turn-by-turn voice directions are especially useful at night, helping you stay on course without stopping on a dark street corner to check where you’re going. Carrying your phone while you run, however, isn’t ideal. Invest in an athletic armband so you can secure your phone and store other important items like your ID and your keys. You’ll have easy access to all your important items and you won’t have to worry about dropping them when you run.
Bonus: More Helpful Safety Tips
Keep these last few tips in mind to make sure your regular nighttime run is as safe as it is refreshing.
- Wear bright clothing, in addition to reflective gear, to be as visible as possible.
- Stick to a familiar route or well-lit streets.
- Be hyper aware of your surroundings, if you can bear to run without music, leave your earbuds at home. If not, leave one out.
- Let a friend or family member know when you head out for your run and when you expect to be home.
These safety tips and accessories will help you see, be seen and protect yourself no matter what time you run. Take the necessary precautions to enjoy your favorite fitness activity at the time that’s most convenient for you.
Jessica Thiefels is a long-time writer and runner, and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for health articles, new workouts and more.