The Night Runner's Guide
As most trail & ultra runners have experienced, racing in this sport often involves running before the sun rises or after the sun sets. Venturing into the world of night running unveils a realm of serenity and challenges that are uniquely captivating. As the sun dips below the horizon, and the trails are cloaked in darkness, it can feel like running in a different dimension. Whether you’re preparing for the overnight portion of your next ultra marathon or simply enjoying the peacefulness of the night hours, let's explore the tips and benefits that come with lacing up your running shoes after the sun has set.
Benefits of the Calm of the Night
Enhanced Mental Clarity
Night running isn't just a physical activity; it's a mental sanctuary. The stillness of the night, broken only by the rhythmic cadence of your footsteps, allows for unparalleled mental clarity. The absence of distractions and the calming influence of the night sky create an environment where you can tune into your thoughts, making it a meditative experience that transcends the physical act of running.
Running under the night sky often means cooler temperatures, especially during warmer seasons. The absence of the sun's intense rays can be a relief, providing a more comfortable and enjoyable running experience. Embrace the cooler air as you traverse the trails, feeling the crispness of the night breeze against your skin—a stark contrast to the heat of the day.
Investing in Quality Lighting
One of the key considerations for night running is proper lighting. Obviously night running comes with its own set of dangers and challenges, so doing what you can to ensure your visibility is as good as possible will help you stay safer. Invest in a reliable
headlamp or trail running light that illuminates the path ahead. Make sure it’s fully charged and functioning before setting out! While a good headlamp can run upwards of $100, most trail runners will confirm it’s worth every penny for the peace-of-mind knowing you’ll feel more sure footed after the sun sets. Our friends at Runner’s World put together a guide of their favorite headlamps for runners. Additionally, I do recommend any products from UltrAspire. They really have your back when it comes to night running. From their Lumen lights to their reflective vest you will be seen!
Choosing Reflective Gear
Being visible to others, especially if you share the trails with cyclists or fellow runners, is crucial for safety. Opt for reflective gear that catches the glint of passing headlights or the beam of a fellow runner's light. It's not just about being seen; it's about ensuring a sense of community and shared space on the trails.
Night running demands a heightened sense of awareness, particularly when it comes to foot placement. Uneven terrain and hidden obstacles can pose challenges, making it essential to stay mindful of your footwork. Focus on the trail ahead, and embrace the opportunity to fine-tune your proprioception — the body's ability to sense its position in space. This might require you to slow down by a few seconds per mile!
Solo Night Runs
Running at night can be a solo endeavor, allowing you to immerse yourself in solitude and self-reflection. As the world sleeps, the trails become your canvas for personal exploration. Solo night runs provide a unique opportunity to connect with nature and yourself, fostering a sense of independence and resilience that extends beyond the trails. Solo night runs also carry their own sets of dangers. Ensure you always let a friend or loved one know your planned route. If possible, try to share your location with someone via smartphone or app. This will add a level of comfort if you ever needed help during your run.
Celebrating the Night Runner's High
Completing a night run brings a distinct sense of accomplishment. The night runner's high, a cousin to its daytime counterpart, is accompanied by a profound sense of tranquility and the satisfaction of conquering the trails when most are still in slumber. This added sense of accomplishment will help fuel your day, your future training and give you a new tool in our arsenal of different types of runs!
Embrace the Night
As you consider lacing up your running shoes for a night run, remember that the trails, much like life, reveal a different kind of magic under the moonlight. Embrace the solitude, revel in the challenges, and let the night be your ally on this nocturnal adventure. The trails await, cloaked in shadows and mystery—ready for you to explore under the canvas of the night sky.