As soon as we “fall back,” we lose an hour of daylight in the evening, which means it’s already dark by the time we head out of the office at the end of the day. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to give up on outdoor exercise until we change the clocks again in the spring. There are plenty of ways to make your post-work walk or run safe and enjoyable — even after dark. Lisa Jhung, a veteran runner and author of Trailhead: The Dirt on All Things Trail Running (VeloPress, 2015) has these tips:
Lose the Headphones
You need to be able to hear oncoming traffic and not be distracted by listening to music or a podcast. “If you absolutely can’t run without music, keep the volume very low and keep the earbud on the road side of your head out,” suggests Jhung.
Bring Your Phone
A good idea when it’s light out too — you never know when you might need to call for help.
Stick to Well-Traveled Roads and Paths
Now is not the time to explore out-of-the-way places. And, if possible, keep to sidewalks and car-free footpaths for most of your route.
Wear Reflective Gear
“Do everything you can to make drivers see you,” says Jhung. “The more reflective, highly visible stuff you’re wearing, the better.” Most running apparel these days has reflective accents — which you can’t necessarily see until the light hits it. You can also pile on extra reflective gear like bibs, arm bands, hats, etc. Wearing a headlamp or carrying a flashlight not only makes you more visible to cars, but can also help you find safe footing on dark terrain.
Go Against Traffic
If you must run on the roads, go in the opposite direction of traffic. That makes it easier for cars to see you and for you to see cars coming (and get out of the way if need be).
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.