Despite the inclusive and supportive culture of the running community, there are still a few hot button issues that divide us. First, there’s strong opinions on whether or not listening to music on the go is a good idea. Then, there’s the debate over whether a forefoot or midfoot strike is best (even though experts say it doesn’t really matter). And finally, there’s the divide between those who wake up early to log their miles before the day begins, and the night runners who cap their busy schedules with a mind-clearing workout.
While there’s no right or wrong time to run, running in the dark gets a bad rap. Critics cite a lack of visibility and increased chances of dangers lurking beyond the shadows as reasons to avoid lacing up at night, but there are many reasons to hit the road after sunset. That’s why it’s important to settle an important debate for all runners, once and for all: Night running isn’t bad!
Not only is it the only time some runners can find for their daily workout, but for others, running at night is their prerogative. There are countless benefits to running at night, and there’s something incredibly liberating about running in the dark. If you just give it a chance, it could become your new normal.
Below, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about night running so that next time you hit the dimly lit road, you’ll be prepared and psyched.
You’ll Miss Happy Hour
If you’re running after work, you probably shouldn’t be slinging back beers with your coworkers beforehand. However, night running can create a whole new meaning for the term ‘happy hour.’ Plus, doesn’t beer taste better after a good run, anyway?
Night Runs Require Preparation
While a run in broad daylight doesn’t necessarily require a ton of planning ahead, it’s important to wear reflective gear and lights during night runs to light the path ahead of you and ensure visibility. Gear like Night Runner Shoe Lights can illuminate a path up to 30 feet ahead of you and provide visibility to cars or passersby behind you with rear-facing red tail lights.
Your Motivation Levels May Dip Mid-day
It’s hard to deny the perks of getting a run done first thing in the morning. When it comes to running at the end of the day, motivation levels can plummet. That’s why we suggest finding a workout buddy or joining a running club that meets at, or after sunset. That way, you’ll be accountable for showing up!
Houston Landry, a Dallas-based runner, runs at night to escape peak heat temperatures during the day. His biggest concern is uneven pavement, low hanging branches, and really anything that could go unseen in the dark and cause a trip or fall. To reduce the chances of stumbling, Landry sticks to routes he knows well, runs without headphones so he can be extra aware of his surroundings, and wears lights on his shoes to illuminate the road ahead.
Critics Say It’s ‘Bad’
There will always be people that say night running is a safety concern—but Rachel Gersten doesn’t let that stop her from hitting the road after sunset. For Gersten, post work is the only time her schedule allows her to run, but as long as she takes the proper precautions she believes there’s really no difference from running at any other time of day.
“I never leave without my phone, or without telling someone where I'm going and how long I'm expected to be out,” Gersten says. “I also use Road ID bracelets on my shoes, which have my name and emergency contact info—just in case of a worst case scenario.”
The Streets (And Trails) Are Less Crowded
For Boston-based runner Jonathan Levitt, running at night in the summer doesn’t only help him find some relief from blistering hot temperatures, but it also ensures a less crowded route—a definite perk when he’s marathon training and wants to avoid weaving that adds extra mileage.
It Helps Broaden Your Schedule
Brock Minert often runs after 8pm so he doesn’t have to sacrifice quality time with his family before his kids go to bed. Emily Glen, an ultramarathoner living in Ireland, works a typical 9-to-5 job—so her work schedule solidifies her status as a night runner.
There’s More Time For Fueling
For Stephanie McDonough, working out in the evening not only allows her to experience the relaxing ambiance of running under the stars but it also gives her time to fuel properly (as opposed to early morning runs that leave little time for a balanced meal before go time).
Lots of runners prefer to run in the evenings for cooler temps, but for McDonough, who lives in the Midwest, it’s imperative to escape the humidity.
“Midwest living means 100 percent humidity and 90-degree temperatures from late April through the end of September,” McDonough says. “I love running later because there’s less direct sunlight.”