This time of year with promises of less alcohol, healthy food and more runs can be made harder by the fact that it is usually dark out of work hours for many! A great excuse that I had been using for the past two weeks until I did some research!
The gym is of course an option, however it lacks the fresh air and I lack the funds! Pre-work runs are off the cards for many due to early starts, me due to laziness. A lunch-time run would be ideal, especially as it boosts your mental performance afterwards, however with no shower at work this only leaves the option of a night run. So, with a trail race coming up (yes it is one of our nominees but I won’t say who – vote for your favourite here) a few night runs seemed needed.
Having done several now, here is some of the advice out there that I found useful:
- Run with a partner – This makes sense for safety and motivational reasons. This is of course not always possible, when unable to, let someone know your route and when you expect to return. There are also many night running groups to join.
- Carry a mobile phone – Whether running at day or night in case you injure yourself or get lost.
- Don’t listen to music – You need to rely on your other senses far more with limited visibility. This is one serious drawback for me. For day runs check out our Runners' Playlist here.
- Run facing traffic – This also makes sense during the day, where possible run without traffic. It may be the only option at night due to street lighting.
- Reflective clothing – There are many well-priced, quality brands out there. Good advice I found was to wear small cycle lights, red on you back and yellow on your front so that traffic can tell which direction you are running.
- Pre-run snack - As you are likely to be running when you would normally be eating, this is more essential than usual to keep your glycogen levels up.
Many of this advice seems to portray night running in a negative light, however there are advantages to it. London University put a group of marathon runners into a trial over a 10k course, running at night and during the day, night runners performed on average one minute faster. Sports Scientist David Martin at The Australian Institute of Sport agrees with these results stating that many elite athletes run at night as "Running at night means people have finished with their day and their interruptions. They are on their own time and they can run more consistently.” It also fits that with less time constraints, if feeling positive it is possible to increase your run.
Professional athletes in sports such as basketball who play at night have claimed that the late exercise often keeps them awake at night, however with night running this doesn’t seem to be the case. A theory is that if involved in a lot of communication, competition and shouting this is very different to the mental solitude of a night run. This would fit with Martin’s theory of it being more relaxing without the worries of the day ahead.
As with the whole industry, night running has become far more widely recognised and popular over the past few years and there are now a whole range of Night Running events across the whole of the UK. Many of these take a more relaxed view to the competitiveness of their event and also provide an after-party. Let us know some of the better ones by nominating them here before 28th January.
For those like me though, who prefer to run in the light, daylight hours are increasing by about 2.5 minutes a day so we shouldn’t have too long left!