Whether you’re a casual runner or you’re training hard for a competition, you’ll know that when winter comes around it can be hard to find enough hours of daylight to fit in your running schedule.
Running in the dark increases the chance of collisions, trips, falls and even getting lost, but thankfully there are a variety of low cost devices you can wear to reduce those risks and improve your nighttime running experience.
Increase your visibility to traffic
Ensuring you can be seen by traffic is one of the biggest challenges of running in the dark, particularly when crossing side streets as vehicles are exiting and entering.
Even in residential areas lit by street lights, fast moving pedestrians can be easily missed amongst car headlights and lights from shops and homes in the background.
Wearable lights are highly effective in both partially lit environments and complete darkness, unlike reflective clothing which requires external light sources to illuminate.
One option is a chest light which straps around the shoulders and waist. These type of lights can be either a torch to illuminate the path ahead and/or feature lights around the strapping to light up the wearer from all angles.
For a less invasive, slimline options, an LED Armband will provide excellent visibility from virtually 360°.
Light the path ahead of you
Depending on where you run, your route may be lit by street lights meaning you can clearly see the terrain in front of you. If your routes take you away from well lit areas, you will want to look for a head lamp or chest light which illuminates the path ahead in the direction you're facing.
There are many different styles of both headlamps and chest lights so make sure to look at the available options before placing your order.
Different types of running lights
Headlamps and head torches
Headlamps and head torches are used by seasoned runners who don’t allow winter to affect their training plans. Headlamps and torches are designed to illuminate the path ahead of you, and also serve the purpose of alerting passers-by of your presence.
The light emitted by these torches is similar to the white light from vehicle headlights, which is ideal for lighting the way but can be drowned out by vehicle headlights and light emitted from buildings.
Handheld running torches are a twist on the traditional torch. They're designed to be ergonomic and often feature hand straps so the torches sit firmly in your grip.
Unlike headlamps and chest lights it's easy to change the direction of the light without adjusting your entire body.
Naturally if your hands are occupied by holding these torches, actions like checking your watch or tightening your shoelaces becomes more difficult.
Harness or vest lights are designed to illuminate the wearer from all angles, and some styles also feature a lamp to light the path in front of you.
These are held in place by straps around your shoulders and chest, which if you don't mind wearing then these are a viable option.
Shoe lights are a less known option but one that's growing in popularity. These are lightweight devices which attach to the laces of your shoes, emitting light from foot level.
By illuminating the ground ahead from this low level you can easily see undulations in the path ahead, making it easy to identify and avoid any obstacles.
Although these lights provide good visibility in the path ahead, they wouldn't be recommended to use on their own if your route takes you near traffic.
LED Band lights
LED Band lights are low cost yet highly effective method of increasing your visibility to vehicles, cyclists and other people on the go. With an adjustable strap, the LED Band is easily attached to your upper arm and turned on by pressing the single large button on the band.
With Constant and Flashing modes, your visibility is immediately enhanced without the need for obstructive or bulky equipment.
If you are going to be running during the night it's highly recommended that you use a combination of these lights to ensure maximum visibility. Wearing a light that illuminates the path in front of you (such as a head torch or harness lamp) along with a light which lights up your person (such as an LED Running Band) will provide the best protection during your nighttime runs.
For more help on how to choose the best running light for you, read our guide on Five Things to Consider When Buying a Running Light.
To learn more about the different types of running lights, checkout Origym’s selection of the 17 best running lights available in 2020.