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Tips and Gear Recommendations for Running at Night

With the long days of summer a distant memory, the darkness of winter mornings and evenings may be the only time you have to run. One option is to punch your wallet in the gut and pick up a treadmill for running. The other is to face the darkness head-on.

Tips and Gear for Running at Night
Lear Miller Photo/Getty Images

Night isn’t a terrible time to run. The coolness can actually help you perform better. However, it does make you harder to see from a car or bicycle. These are our top tips and gear picks for getting through your early morning or evening runs in one piece.

Make It Easy

Set up everything you need to run before you need it so going on the run is inevitable. Get lights that charge with USB. Run a route you know well. Start with one mile and go from there. Beginning with something familiar and easy will make it harder to say no.

Stay Illuminated

Running with a headlamp can be painful. They either bounce around too much or are so tight they leave a dent in your head afterward.

BioLite 200

Our gear recommendation: The BioLite Headlamp 200 has a wide band made from moisture-wicking material that evenly distributes the light 50-gram load, preventing any forehead dents. The 200 lumens is plenty of light for you to see the road and for drivers to see you. On low, the light lasts 40 hours. The high mode won’t last all night, but at three hours, it will get you through a tough trail section or the creepy back alley. When it’s time to recharge, just plug in the Micro USB cable.

NiteIze SlapLit LED Slap Wrap

Our gear recommendation: For the ultimate in convenience, we turn to a kids’ tool. The SlapLit™ Rechargeable LED Slap Wrap by Nite Ize is a mouthful to say but it’s easy to use. Inspired by slap bracelets, just slap the SlapLit on your wrist, arm, or ankle. The USB-rechargeable battery inside gives you five hours of constant or flashing light. The reflective patterning lights up in headlights for extra flash.

Nathan Lightbender RX Armband Light

Our gear recommendation: For a little bit more light, the Nathan Lightbender RX Armband is like a (stylish and safe) Christmas tree. It’s waterproof, sweatproof, and lasts for eight hours with constant light or 16 hours flashing. The Lightbender can change to red, green, or blue at the tap of a button and recharges quickly with a Micro USB port. Place on an arm or a leg so others can see the movement to know you’re a runner.

Track Your Progress

If it’s not online, then it didn’t happen. Jokes aside, tracking runs can help with accountability and let friends know where you are.

Garmin 245 Music Running Watch

Our gear recommendation: The Garmin 245 Music Running Watch syncs while you run with the Connect app to share your location with selected contacts and to send alerts in case it detects an accident. The watch can store 500 songs from Deezer, Amazon Music, or Spotify (but be careful with headphones at night). The GPS tracks your running, pace, and other stats along with a heart rate monitor.

Skip the Headphones

The beat of the music can be a great motivator. It can also cover the sound of a 2,000-pound hammer on wheels that’s driving right at you. Running at night demands more attention, so either skip the headphones or get a pair that lets you hear better.

AfterShokz Aeropex

Our gear recommendations: AfterShokz Aeropex headphones (pictured above) vibrate the music through the bones in your head so your ears are left open. If you want more traditional headphones, wear one earbud of your wireless headphones, like the upcoming Jabra Elite Active 75t.

Dress for the Weather

Weather can change drastically in the winter from a sunny day to freezing at dusk. Make sure you have what you need to get through whatever wind or rain is forecast. Don’t pull a calf muscle 5 miles from home without a jacket.

Brooks Nightlife Jacket

Our gear recommendation: Speaking of jackets, Brooks makes a great one for running at night. The Brooks Nightlife Jacket has bright patterning over the shoulders and super-reflective piping on the arms and body. No matter in what direction a driver sees the jacket, something will light up. The Nightlife is water- and wind-resistant so no matter what weather you hit on your run, you’ll be comfortable. The whole thing packs into a small chest pocket if you need to throw it into a small pack or suitcase.

Hats can be the ultimate protector during bad weather, keeping the rain or sun out of your eyes. They can also be the ultimate visibility tool.

Salomon Reflective Cap

Our gear recommendation: The Salomon Reflective Cap looks like any other running hat during the day but lights up like a floodlight at night. The soft, absorbent band is comfortable even when you’re sweating. The AdvancedSkin Shield fabric breaks the wind when you’re facing less than ideal conditions.

Slow Down

With your blood pumping from an evening run, it can be hard to slow down and get to sleep. Time to hit the yoga and meditation to calm that monkey brain and gets some Zs.

For yoga, start with poses like Downward Dog, Pigeon, and Low Lunge or your favorite YouTube Yoga. For meditation, check out our guide to meditation for men. Your body will appreciate even a few minutes of stretching and mindfulness.

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