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The 10 best tips for running at night

We’re all busy people. We work through the day and generally when it ends, look forward to heading home to cook, relax and have some quiet time. In winter especially, running after a long day of work is probably the last thing on your mind, but what if it turned out it could be something to look forward to each evening?

   

Research shows that if you manage to squeeze a run in during your busy day (at any time), not only do your energy levels increase, but so too does your quality of sleep. Reports indicate around 45% of people say they have poor sleep, which in turn leads to poor day-time performance. Below, we’ve gathered 10 of the best tips to get the most out of running at night, including some important safety tips for a little extra peace of mind. 

 

1. Use night running to break your “bad” night habits in 5 minutes

You get home, sit on the couch and before you know it, time has flown by. You wanted to get some things done but you needed some ‘you time’, so on comes the TV and off goes your motivation. Night running can help you curb the behaviors you may not want. Instead of heading straight for the couch, or the kitchen to start cooking, or grabbing a drink when you get home, get changed into your running gear and get out there within 5 minutes of getting home (the challenging part). 5 minutes and out the door so you have no time to argue with yourself and say no to a night run.

 

When you get back from your run, your mind will be more refreshed than from any of those other home habits you may have fallen into, and the night opens up to a world of possibilities for you to do now that you are feeling good (see more on this at tip 10).

 

2. Bring your phone with you

Safety is the number one concern for people night running. With phones being able to do everything these days, you’re ready if anything happens to you while out there on your night run. From being able to call for a taxi if you run too far, using maps to find your way home, texting anyone that may be waiting if you’re taking longer than you thought, to simply being able to call a friend (or the police). As a bonus, they also come with a built-in flashlight – great if you need a little extra visibility on a trail. Make sure you get to know the emergency/SOS features too...

  

3. Get to know the emergency safety features on your devices
 

Put your mind at ease by getting to know potentially life-saving emergency features on your devices. For iPhone 8 and newer, squeeze the lock button and the volume button for 5 seconds and it will do three things.

 

• Let out a loud siren noise

• Call the emergency services

• Alert your emergency contacts with your live location

 

For iPhone 7s and older, you’ll need to hit the side button five times in rapid succession (Just 3 in India). To be extra sure what’s the right combination for your device, take a look on Apple’s emergency support page. Here, you can also see how to easily set up your emergency contacts.
 

For Android users, the features differ depending on the manufacturer and model. Search “SOS” or “Emergency” into your phone’s Settings to discover what you need to do.

 

Get to know you smart watch too. Most watches are packed with handy quick-tricks to keep you safe in an emergency. Take a look on the manufacturers website or search in your settings. 

 

We hope you’ll never have to use these features, but if if allows you a little more peace of mind to enjoy your run, we think it’s worth it. So spend a few minutes getting to know what your device can do, and share this info with others. 

 

4. Stay where it’s lit and aim for the “touristy” spots

Likely the best place to run at night is along your local main street. Scattered with restaurants and night-friendly places, the wash of lights make it easy to see where you’re running, and throngs of people mean safety is nothing to worry about. If running in these busier areas isn’t for you though, headlamps could be a great way to run where you want safely. Ask your local running specialist store if you can take a headlamp for a test though, as wearing one isn’t for everyone, and it’s better to be sure before buying one you use once.

 

5. Night running gear

And on the topic of headlamps, the gear you need for night running is a little different from your normal run kit. Aside from the optional headlamp, reflective gear is a must for the night runner. Dressing for the weather is important as the temperature will drop quickly the later it is in the night. Versatility is the key, with gear that can easily be adjusted from warm to cold conditions.

               

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Another thing to consider when night running is wearing more supportive running shoes. With less visibility, the chances of tripping over something in the dark and doing injury to yourself is greater, so having shoes that better protect rolling can help here. We recommend the Cloudflyer or Cloudflow – no excuse like a new habit for new shoes, right?

 

6. Track the run

The final “safety” tip for new night runners is to use a run-tracking app like Strava, with the community easily able to see where you’ve gone if you get lost and off track. A bonus of using a tracking app is to compare how you run the same route during the day to during the night. Research shows that on night runs, we tend to be slightly faster due to the weather often being slightly cooler (better for running) and as we naturally are on more alert, so have more energy to draw upon. See for yourself by tracking your run (and let us know your results).

     

7. Listen to voices, not music during the night run (if you need to listen to something)

If you’re one to usually listen to music on your run, try listening instead to an audio book or podcast. This is for two reasons. The first is that music tends to over-stimulate, which may keep your pumped after the run is over and you’re looking to settle down for the night. The second is so you can pay more attention to what’s happening around you. With only a voice in your ear, you can still easily hear the world around you while with music, most sounds will be drowned out. Best is to run with nothing at all of course, but we’re realistic and know most people these days like to multi-task on the run, so use it as your chance to catch up on a book or similar.

   

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8. Small snacks before and after the night run

As you often will be running during a time when food is on your mind, opt for a small snack (fruits and nuts are the easy win) before you head out on your night run. This will give you a short and longer energy boost and have you feeling like you’re not running on an empty stomach as you run through the smells of other people’s dinners while on the street. The best foods to eat after your run are simple foods such as a protein shake, peanut butter and banana, or greek yoghurt. The calorie trade for these two smaller meals and run compared to a full-sized dinner is incredible, and if losing weight is a goal, this will definitely put you on the right path with no room left for other “late-night” bad-habit snacks you go for when feeling hungry after dinner.

  

9. Run with someone

Some people will put this down as another safety tip, but view it more as a novel way to catch up with friends. Through the week, most people don’t have too many plans for after work. Inviting a friend over and out for a run is an adventure you can share together and way you can again kill two birds with one stone. In the same way, joining a night running group, just like with any other sports team, can create new friends and opportunities to meet new people all while getting fit and finding more time for it all after hours.

  

10. After the night run, prepare right for what’s next

For those not looking to do an all-nighter, a worry is that running at night will wind you up so falling asleep comes with difficulty. Follow these simple steps after your night run to get you primed and ready for the sleep of your life:

  

• Get home and stretch for 10 minutes. Focus on calves, quads, buttocks and back.

• Add nutmeg or turmeric (both aid sleep and relaxation) to your post-run snack to further help you sleep.

• Have a shower, alternating between warm water and cold for 30 seconds each, then finishing under warm water.

• Once dry, have a hot chamomile tea and wind down however you like with the time before you’re ready for bed.

• Finally, just before you hit the hay, spend a few more minutes stretching your back and shoulders. Stretching right before you climb into bed has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, so stretch and then off to bed you go, ready for the next day (and tomorrow’s night run).

 

If you’re still not convinced and think you’re too tired to run after a busy day, we’ll leave you with one last interesting fact. Our bodies give us a cortisol boost of energy in the night as part of our in-built defense mechanism. Use yours, hit the late-night pavement, and feel your best heading into the next day – and night.                      

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