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Oct 28, 2021

Nighttime is the Right Time

The late summer sun started to disappear behind the horizon as I walked to the starting line. It was dusk when the starting gun went off, and I barely completed a mile of my 10K race before the darkness set in.

For the second time this summer, I was racing at night. I was more than a little nervous the first time I started running after dark, as that race took place on a trail in the middle of the woods, but I had few issues with this one. This race took place on well-lit city streets, with additional colorful neon lights placed along the road to enhance the ambience.

As I listened to crickets chirp in the nighttime stillness, I began to wonder if I could fit more late-night running into my routine on a regular basis. There’s something peaceful and calming about running in the darkness, I was discovering.

As a woman, of course, I know this is easier said than done, as our safety is clearly compromised when you’re running at night. That very legitimate fear is amplified even more as a Black woman running at night.

Both factors have limited my nighttime running to organized races with a large crowd present, but when these opportunities come, I’ll take them.

Ready to start running in the dark? Here are a few safe ways to try it.

Early morning runs: In my BGR! chapter, there’s a woman who lives for her 5 a.m. runs. If you want to get it done before seeing the sun, organize a super early group run or join one with your BGR! group, local running store or other area running club.

Late-night group runs: Believe it or not, you might find some friends who want to do a trail run or city run at night. It’s even better if there’s an organized group with trained leaders eager to host night runs. There’s definitely safety in numbers. Bring your lighted running vest If you’re running on city streets or headlamp for the trails to light the path ahead of you.

Long-distance races: If you sign up for a marathon or half-marathon, start times will usually be scheduled for the wee hours of the morning so almost everyone has time to finish before the course closes. Most times, that means you’ll get started before sunrise and run a few miles in the dark. While the start of a big race is no one’s idea of a relaxing experience, you can’t beat the energy that comes from a crowd of runners who trained for months for this moment. And the experience is pretty amazing when you’re in the middle of that crowd watching the sun rise.

Multi-day events: This is one experience I haven’t tackled just yet. For those unfamiliar with these types of races, they usually require a group of participants who agree to run a certain number of miles/laps/loops/legs around a course (often a trail) as part of a team. Each runner will usually do multiple laps, meaning that these races go well into the night and the next morning. The Ragnar races are popular examples of these events.

There are many ways to run safely at night if that’s an experience you want to add to your running resume. Let us know what you’ve tried or if you plan to hit the road – or trail – at night!

By Shannon Shelton Miller /Twitter: ShannonSMWrites, Instagram: shannon.shelton1

Shannon Shelton Miller is a longtime writer and journalist who enjoys writing about sports, fitness, health, beauty, and parenting. She has been running for 27 years, starting from joining her high school cross country team. She has run a marathon, two half marathons, and countless 5K and 10K races.