6 Tips for Running in the Dark from a Pro Runner

© WEDGE Creative Photography, Film, Production: Brian & Malia Wedge

Fall is here, and that means the light is changing, days are getting shorter, and your evening run is all the more likely to coincide with a setting sun. Running at night can be a refreshing and invigorating activity, but it requires extra care, good judgment and a stronger focus on safety. We asked Athleta Fit Model, night owl and record-breaking ultra-marathon runner Julia Stamps Mallon for her top tips on how to stay safe while running at the edges of the day.

Tip #1:  Be Seen at All Times  

© WEDGE Creative Photography, Film, Production: Brian & Malia Wedge

Julia is wearing the Reflective Be Free Tight as she takes the time to adjust her laces.

Most likely if it’s dark, you will be taking roads and not trails. Reflective gear is key! Avoid wearing all black and instead opt for bright colors with reflective strips.

© WEDGE Creative Photography, Film, Production: Brian & Malia Wedge

Julia adjusts her Run With It Headband as she prepares for a night run wearing the Accelerate Reflective Jacket and a pair of Run With It Gloves in Silver Shimmer.

Tip #2: Be Heard

© WEDGE Creative Photography, Film, Production: Brian & Malia Wedge

As I generally run on my own early in the morning, I like to let people know that I am coming by playing my music on my phone speakers. This means I don’t surprise anyone and that I can scare bigger animals away. Since I have my phone with me, I also have a “safety blanket” in case there’s ever a problem.

Tip #3: Light the Way

Headlights are more multifunctional than you may think! I find it more comfortable to wear mine around my waist. I have also seen lights for shoes, but it might make you dizzy watching the light move as fast as your feet. A light around the waist allows it to shine just in front of you without bouncing up and down as it does when you wear one on your head.

Tip #4: Run Towards Traffic

© WEDGE Creative Photography, Film, Production: Brian & Malia Wedge

Being the control freak that I am, I like to see the cars coming versus the cars seeing me ahead. I would recommend you run on the left side of the road towards the cars so you see exactly what is coming in case you need to suddenly jump off the road. It saves you from wondering whether a car is coming and your neck from frequently looking back .

Tip #5: Meet a Friend

© WEDGE Creative Photography, Film, Production: Brian & Malia Wedge

When it’s cold and dark, it can be hard to motivate. Sometimes having coffee and enjoying quiet time at home or sipping a glass of wine while finishing up work is more appealing than the exercise plans your made in your head. So, find that workout buddy who will keep you accountable and set a date. Plan to meet along the way so you have that extra motivation. Having someone by your side will help keep you on point.

Tip #6:  Enjoy the Peacefulness

© WEDGE Creative Photography, Film, Production: Brian & Malia Wedge

There is something therapeutic about running when it’s dark. It’s quiet, peaceful and my favorite way to start or finish a day. So lace up, stay reflective, be seen and heard, and enjoy your time out there!  

Want to learn a little more about Julia? Read her Fit Minute on the Chi blog here.

Photos by: Wedge Creative

You might also like

  • Read more

    5 Ways to Be Up For Anything

    When faced with a new task, ask, or challenge, often, the first thought that pops into your mind is “I can’t!” or “How am I ever going to do this?” To celebrate our new Up For Anything Tight here are five ways to psych yourself up to tackle just about anything. 1. Imagine The Best…

  • Read more

    Make Your Workouts Epic in 2018

    Why, Hello 2018! It’s a new year, and that means it’s time to seek out the most epic workouts and sweat even more. From workouts that have you swinging from bar to bar, to finding mindfulness in your R&R, these 10 exercises offer a fresh perspective on what it means to embrace the challenge and…

  • Read more

    #UpForAnything Quiz

    Our new Up For Anything Tight was designed specifically to help you take on new challenges. With a no-flip waistband and 360-degree stretch, it’s the perfect garment for your next heart-pounding endeavor. But if you slip on a pair of tights and need some help determining what that adventure is, the flow chart below will…


September 29, 2015 at 11:01 am

I would also add to watch for vehicles pulling out of business parking lots or making turns. Don’t assume because you are lit up that they see you. We learned that the hard way one morning, and nearly ended up as a hood ornament on a truck! We thought he saw us and had stopped for us, so we could pass by. He never saw us.

Team Athleta

October 02, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Yikes Sam! Thanks for the tip – safety first! – Helen

Flower Power

October 16, 2015 at 8:21 am

I would not suggest any one run alone in the dark. While it may be peaceful and calming it is also dangerous and places runners in a potential dangerous situation.


October 19, 2015 at 9:17 am

I have been running in the dark (5am) 5x a week for over 10 years. I avoid wooded trails and stick with residential streets that are lit. I also do not run on sidewalks that butt up to bushes, shrubs, and anywhere someone can hide. I stick to the street. The moon, stars, and lights from homes actually add a lot of additional light. And consistent runners will find that OTHER people are consistently out too…. I see the same people walking their dogs, leaving for work, delivering newspapers, etc. when I am out, so there is a sense of knowing other “early risers” are around who I “know”. Like Julia, I run against the traffic and try to wear brighter clothing. I also have a light on my iPod that I can hit when I see a car coming, to help it see me too. And yes, some drivers don’t pay attention, but you’ll find that during the day as well.

Leave a Reply