9 Safety tips for running at night

Sep 30, 2015 at 10:45 a.m. ET
Image: Costantino Costa/Getty Images

It is officially fall, which means the sun is starting to rise later in the morning and set earlier in the evening. As daylight hours are becoming fewer, running in the dark might be the only option for those who like to run outside. If you are going to run outside in the dark, take these nine precautions to ensure your safety.

1. Wear light colors and reflective clothing

Wear white and neon colors, like yellow or orange, so people can see you better. Invest in reflective gear, such as a vest. Some running shoes and jackets come with reflective pieces on them, but more is always better. It is also highly recommended that you run with a headlamp or other illuminating lights. This will not only help other people see you, but it also illuminates your route so that you can see where you are stepping and see objects or people in front of you.

2. Run without music

This can be a hard habit to break. Not being able to hear your surroundings is dangerous, particularly in the dark. If you absolutely must listen to music, turn it down very low, so you can hear cars, cyclists, dogs or people approaching you. Be alert of your surroundings.

3. Always carry your ID

If you don't want to carry your driver's license or other ID with you, get a Road ID tag. Simply attach it to your shoe or wear as a wristband, and you won't have to remember your ID before you leave the house.

4. Run with a friend, especially if you are a woman

Unfortunately, women have to be a bit more concerned about safety, and there is safety in numbers. Get a group of women together for runs or find a local running group to join. If you must run alone, tell someone the route you are running and approximately how long you will be gone. When you return, be sure to let that person know you arrived home safely.

5. Run someplace well-populated or well-lit

A college or high school track makes a perfect running location. Tracks are usually lit at night and may have security officers patrolling the campus.

6. Avoid busy roads and those with no shoulders or sidewalks

If you are running on a road, make sure you always stay on the sidewalk. If you are running on a road, run against traffic. You can avoid cars more easily if you can see them coming.

7. Carry a cell phone

You never know who you'll need to contact. Injuries happen in the dark, and reporting suspicious activity to the police can help keep all runners safe.

8. Consider varying your running routes and times

Potential attackers can study a runner's routines and lurk in a particularly dark or isolated area. Don't make yourself an easy target. Regardless of whether it is light or dark outside, don't post your route publicly on social media sites. Even if your profile is set to "private," you never know who could be accessing your pages. If you want to brag about your route or how far you ran on social media sites, do so when you get home from the run and don't specify your exact route.

9. Use a running safety app

A few different apps act as another safety net when you're out running. RunSafe, for example, includes a variety of safety features, like a panic button that triggers a siren and strobe light and starts recording sound to your phone.

You can also set up the app to send start and stop e-mails or texts to your selected contacts to let them know when you’ve left and when you’ve returned from a workout. Those contacts can also view and track your workout in real time and know where you are at all times.

Further, if you see anything suspicious, you can report dangers with the type, level of danger and exact location. That report is used to notify others of potential hazards if they are in the area.