While trying to arrange a run this coming weekend, I realised that the clocks were going back. “So do you want to meet 9am old time, or new time?” was my question to my running partner, who looked at me bemused. “Isn’t it just 9am regardless?” he said. Well, it is – so long as he remembers to change every single clock in his house before bedtime.
There are growing calls to have the practice of Daylight Saving Time (DST) scrapped. Indeed, 68 percent of countries in the world don't use DST, probably because they're along or close enough to the equator, and it wouldn't change an ordinary day that much. And, as much as some people complain about the changes, the one big thing that proponents enjoy is that extra hour of sleep - and who doesn't enjoy a nice lie in?
The other thing DST signals is that it's time to break out the hi vis and other reflective running kit and accessories that make running in the dark a much safer proposition. Many of us live in areas with poor street lighting, and so night-time running is much safer if you’re lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree. Today’s hi vis and reflective gear is highly advanced, and is a far cry from the days of Day-Glo disco wear.
You will find that most reflective clothing comes in the form of jackets and tops. While you’ll find tights and shorts with reflective ‘accents’, your best bet is to also source a top with reflective accents at the very least. Many manufacturers feature reflective panels on the arms and shoulders of garments, which will make you far more visible to others (particularly motorists) while training. Reflective accessories are also readily available: you can choose from vests, reflectives for your backpack, and a variety of bands for your legs and arms.
Whether you’re planning an all-night ultra or an evening run through the park, investing in a head torch is a bright idea. Things to look out for when buying one are its brightness, battery life, comfort, and weight. Although running safely in the dark is worth any sacrifice of the weight of a torch, you'll want to pick the lightest head torch that ticks the most boxes for you. If you're in the market for a torch, we suggest looking at the ones from Petzl, LEDLenser, Silva and Black Diamond, which are all excellent.
Personal safety is also a big issue in winter running, particularly as a female running in the dark. Technology has moved on significantly in recent times, and by using software such as Strava Beacon when you run, you can let others know exactly where you are. Take your phone with you on your runs and turn on your Beacon before you head off, and up to three safety contacts will be able to view your location on a map in real time. Beacon shares your location via a text message that contains a short URL. Anyone with an iPhone, Android or compatible Garmin device can use the software, and any safety contact with a mobile phone and an Internet connection can watch your back. It’s about knowing that somebody else knows where you are!
Run Angel, meanwhile, is another personal safety device that that emits a loud 120dB high-pitched audible alarm when activated, and pairs with smartphone devices via Bluetooth to send out alerts in the event of an emergency. The Run Angel app allows its users to set up a guardian network of family and friends who can be notified in an emergency via SMS and email upon activation of their run angel.
It is also a good idea to run in groups when training at night – safety in numbers and all that. There are hundreds of run groups up and down the country with organised evening runs for people of all abilities. Or alternatively, simply head out running with a friend for added company and safety.
Running in the dark during winter should be an exciting part of everyone’s training programme. Wear the right kit, make use of personal safety technology, don't take unnecessary risks, and you’ll be banging out the miles in no time!