Running into darkness …

Out the door, down the driveway, start the watch, run … I reach up to my headlamp and click – I’m instantly swallowed by darkness.  And I love it.

A few months ago, on a whim, I turned my headlamp off mid run.  There was supposed to be a meteor shower that morning and I wanted to see some shooting stars.  I felt distracted by the headlamp so I turned it off.  I instantly noticed a sky full of stars and it was awesome.  I saw two shooting stars that morning – not as many as I’d hoped, but these were the first two shooting stars I’d seen while running.

I find myself time and time again, especially when the sky is clear, reaching up to click myself into darkness.  I found this to be a similar experience to when I first started running without music.  Dropping the music made me feel more in tune with my surroundings.  Dropping the light took it to another level.  It’s me and the morning.  And it’s beautiful.

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It’s amazing how well our eyes adapt.  And I don’t even really eat carrots.  What I found is the headlamp gives me tunnel vision.  Running w/o the light seems to open up the world around me.  It’s hard to explain.  But it’s cool.

Dude – you’re crazy for running around, in the dark, with no headlamp.

Eh.  Not really.  But I think safety is still critical.  Given that, here are my tips for running into the darkness … should you decide to give it a whirl.

  1. Wear a headlamp.  When I see a car coming, I click the light on so I’m more visible and then generally step off the road to let it pass.
  2. Wear lights on your back.  Even though my headlamp is off, I have red flashing lights on my back.  Nathan makes a cheap clip light.  Get one.
  3. Wear reflective gear – that’s really a given whether your headlamp is on or off, if you’re running in the dark.  I’m a big fan of the Amphipod xinglet.
  4. Run known routes.  If you know where the pot holes are, it’s much easier to relax and enjoy the run vs. looking at the ground for something that’s going to twist your ankle.
  5. I don’t recommend trying this in the snow.  It’s too hard to tell what’s good from a footing standpoint.
  6. Relax and have fun!

Do you run in the dark?  Ever tried to click the light out?

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4 thoughts on “Running into darkness …

  1. Jess@Run Pink!

    Great tips! Especially know the route!! I’ve been running a lot in the dark early mornings and the stars are truly stunning. I feel so small yet so invincible all at the same time.

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  2. 50in50marathonquest

    I have to admit I really don’t adapt too well to running in the dark and am really impressed that you crank these runs out so late at night…never tried “lights out,” honestly would be scared of falling or rolling an ankle. Great insight to your running as always, Cheers!

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  3. Lewis Van Atta

    I HAD to chime in…you reminded me of a very memorable pre-dawn run from a couple of years ago: Running a 6-miler at Mill Creek in Northern California around Christmas/New Years (keeping up my fitness on a vacation trip). The road was mostly bounded by these tall pines, leaving a small strip of sky overhead, so without a headlamp, it’s mostly pitch black. The road opens up into this broad firebreak for about a quarter mile, and I got a sight of the clear night sky and the Milky Way that just stopped me dead in my tracks, it was so spectacular. I just had to stop and stare for about a minute or two before I continued, it was so beautiful.

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