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How to run at night: 6 great tips for staying safe

How to run at night: 6 great tips for staying safe

For many runners, their evening run is sacred because it’s a fantastic way to decompress after work, the city is quieter, and for many it’s the only available time to squeeze in some exercise following a busy day. As is often the case, running in the evening means it will be dark – especially in winter – and you can always count on a night run to spark the senses. Here’s our advice on how to make the most of it…


If you’re running in a city or down a long road, you’ve got to make absolutely sure that vehicles can see you. In addition, cyclists can appear suddenly and quietly so make sure they can see you from a distance.

We recommend wearing clothes with reflective elements that are highly visible in a vehicle’s headlights. Ideally these reflectors should be located on body parts that move (e.g., shoes, ankles, wrists) as you run. Reflective elements are especially important when wearing winter running gear, which is often darkly colored. So don’t hesitate to throw on a reflective armband and if you can find a fluorescent running top that you like, go for it.

It’s also helpful to know that some headlamps feature a red light on the back that greatly increases your visibility.


Even in a well-lit city, a powerful, lightweight headlamp will always increase your chances of being seen and help you navigate dark stretches. We recommend always taking a headlamp with you when you run at the end of the day.

Trail runners who have the good fortune to run in the wilderness will find a headlamp invaluable for running at night when you need to see where to put your feet and for enabling you to find your way. Clearly, the best way to stay on top of your descents is to use a powerful lamp with a wide beam. Before you head out make sure your headlamp’s battery is fully charged, and on long runs think about conserving battery life by decreasing the intensity of the beam when you’re running uphill or moving slowly.

Also be careful if you go running at the end of the day. Darkness can creep up on you surprisingly fast and carrying a headlamp with you can radically alter your experience from humbling epic to fun adventure.

If there’s enough ambient light – during a full moon, for instance – try turning off your headlamp and letting your eyes adapt. As always, use discretion and then get ready for some nocturnal fun, guaranteed!


Even in the middle of summer, it’s always cooler at night. The difference in temperatures between night and day can be surprising, especially in the mountains. Evenings are also more prone to thunderstorms with sudden drops in temperature along with rain or increased humidity. Dress accordingly and don’t hesitate to take an extra layer like a jacket with you.


For evening and night runs, choose a route you’re already familiar with. If you run in the middle of nowhere, locate and plan potential escape routes that will make it easy to get back to civilization (like a road or a village) if things go sideways. If you’re concerned about your safety, it can be reassuring to run in places where you’ll see other runners.

Orientation is always trickier at night especially if you’re running on a trail, so think about loading your route on your smartphone or GPS watch to help keep you going in the right direction.

Running at night is an essential part of your ultra-trail training because the environment and sensations you’ll experience are remarkably different than the ones you’ll feel when running during the day. If you’re new to running at night, steer clear of long runs on isolated, technical routes with difficult route-finding. Also be aware of the importance of staying alert especially when you inevitably start to get sleepy.


This rule applies anytime you go into the wilderness, even during the day: avoid going alone. Staying safe and dealing with an unexpected event or accident is easier when you’re in a group (ideally three to four people). Running in a group is also reassuring when you’re new to night sessions.

Be sure to let someone know where you’re going so that it’s easier for them to help you if needed. We also recommend taking your phone with you when you run at night so you can easily contact someone if you need to.


At night, when it’s more difficult to see because of the lack of light, pay extra attention to your surroundings. We also advise against running with music so that you can better hear a car or bicycle that you might not be able to see. On top of that, when you’re out in nature it’s always really cool to hear things like the cry of an owl!

In summary, to be safe when running at night:

  • Make sure you can be seen by others by wearing clothes with reflective elements and a headlamp.
  • A fully charged headlamp is your best friend… even if you don’t use it.
  • Beware of the cold and wear appropriate running clothing.
  • Choose easy routes that you’re already familiar with.
  • Avoid running alone and tell someone where you’re going.
  • Pay extra attention to your surroundings to compensate for the reduced visibility at night.
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