It’s all fun and games until someone trips over a tree root! Here’s how to ensure you take your night running seriously and safely
Use your head
One of the most important things to buy before heading off into the deep, dark wilderness? A good head torch. While a hand torch can be used to shine on objects to your left or right, a head torch always points at the road in front of you. “The head torch allows you to see where you are going following the line of vision and head direction,” says Nick Anderson, GB and Saucony running coach.
Keep it handy
You may not want to have a hand torch on for your entire run – they can be a bit pesky to run with – but it’s safe to say that a hand torch is good to have on your person, especially if you’re running an off-road route or mountain path. As Nick explains, “The hand torch allows you to be a little more creative when you plan ahead, looking for turns or drops off the edge of a tricky hillside or mountain path.”
‘Aghh, my eyes!’ We hear you – the full glare of a head torch can be a bit taxing on your vision after a few miles of running. But here’s the thing – you don’t need to have your head light turned up full blast for the entire session.
“Your eyes quickly become accustomed to the darkness,” reveals George of runningbygeorge.com. “When it’s safe to do so, drop the brightness down gradually. Staring at a small pool of light, a few feet in front of you, for mile after mile can get a bit hypnotic and boring!” 4
Follow your senses
Strange fact: you’ll be able to hear a lot more when you run at night than during the day. Whether it’s the sound of a branch snapping or a dog howling, your hearing perks up when sight is compromised. “You need to take extra care and make good use of your other senses,” advises George. “For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend listening to music, as your ears are going to provide an important part of your image of the environment around you.”
Find your balance
Amazingly, your brain recognises objects that you see with peripheral vision (your vision of things around you) 25 percent faster than those it clocks with central vision. And your peripheral nerves help to keep the body balanced. Give your body time to adjust to the shift in balance. “Slowing down is an obvious thing to do if you’re a novice,” recommends George.
Practise a slower pace and then “if the terrain is good and you get used to the differences in footfall, you don’t need to kill too much of your speed.” Click here to read our training guide to night running