I think I’ve for real for real gotten back into a morning running routine. What it took was a million things blowing up at work, which meant most days this week I stayed late at the office or did work at home at night (or both). It was by far the craziest week I’ve had since starting this job back in June. It felt like an endless cycle of run, work, sleep until Friday, which was run, work, sleeeeeeep (for 10 hours!)
On Thursday I took my 2 new Nathan strobe lights (in “tango red”) and Petzl Tikkina headlamp (in less exciting “black”) out for a 6 mile test run in the neighborhood. I picked the same route that I ran when I had my fateful encounter with a sandbag. While I still don’t think the sandbag had any place in the middle of a bike path, I can’t believe I waited this long to get a headlamp.
I typically run in the bike lane– facing oncoming traffic– and hop onto the sidewalk if a bunch of cyclists come towards me. I felt a lot better about running on the sidewalk when I could clearly see cracks or branches or any other potential hazards in my path. Most of this route is pretty well lit, especially the area near my apartment. When I started out I couldn’t really notice a difference with the headlamp because I had a good amount of visibility from street lights. But the headlamp’s power was very obvious once I hit some patches with less illumination. I never like to assume that cars or cyclists or anyone can see me when I’m running– which is why I always yield even when I’m lit up like a Christmas tree– but the headlamp definitely made me feel better than I did when I just ran with two dinky clip on lights.
I think the only cons are that it makes me look like I’m heading off to work in a coal mine (per my boyfriend) and it briefly left a pink rectangle on the skin where it was pressed against my forehead, though that’s probably because I made the band too tight. Otherwise, high recommended, and big thanks to Cheaper Than Therapy for the Petzl recommendation.
Next up are the Nathan strobe lights.
These are pretty much just basic clip on lights. I’ve been sporting clip on lights for years– one in front, one in back– but the ones I’d been using don’t have replaceable batteries. To be fair, those Road Runner Sports ones are incredibly bright but when I saw that the one I bought in February was noticeably fading by July after relatively few uses, I knew it was time to switch to something else. The Nathan ones have replaceable batteries, which was my main criterion when picking new lights so hooray, mission accomplished. They’re also quite bright, though maybe not quite as bright as the Road Runner ones when they’re new. The clips seemed pretty secure on the waistband of my shorts. The only thing that bothered me was that you have to hold the power button for several seconds to turn them on and off. Really not a big deal but it confused me when I first tried them out.
I will say that running with all of this light made me feel a little weird because most of the early morning runners I see don’t seem to do anything to make themselves visible. I’m not throwing shade because I’ve done that too but I think that running with a lot more light made me realize how poor the pre-dawn visibility can be. These are some things I try to do to make my pre-dawn runs safer:
- Wear lights (see above)
- Wear light colored clothing. I am extremely pale and don’t wear neon colors in my every day life because they make me look jaundiced. But I have some bright yellow running attire that I specifically save for running in the dark.
- No headphones. I do this because a) I like to use my running playlist sparingly so it’s a treat to listen to at the track or on a long run and b) I really want my hearing to be 100% when I’m not in daylight.
- Run where there are other people (who are not creepy). I have a fairly prescribed area where I do my pre-dawn running. Many of the streets in my neighborhood have really wide bike lanes, so there are always cyclists out early in the morning as well as runners, dog walkers, etc. The closest track always has a motley cast of characters. I’ve thought of expanding my morning routes a bit but before I do so I will probably drive and see what those areas are like early in the morning. I should also note that I’m pretty lucky that I live in a safe neighborhood with a lot of people like myself who are up before sunrise to work out. When I lived in Philadelphia (in a relatively safe neighborhood, but it was still Philadelphia) any running outside of daylight hours happened on the treadmill.
- As mentioned previously, I do not assume that I am visible. Even if I am wearing multiple lights, the cyclists or motorists barreling towards me could be distracted, so I always get out of their way.
- I rarely carry a cellphone with me when I run, which is somewhat ill advised. I feel pretty okay about this though given that my boyfriend knows my morning running areas and I try to tell him where I’m planning to run the next morning. Also, being in an area where there are people (who are not creepy) makes me more confident that someone would hear me if I yelled for help.
- Run with other people. Ha! I never do this. But it’s definitely not a bad idea, especially when it’s dark outside.