Saturday, 24 November 2012

Running at night

I recently blogged about the challenge of running and cycling in the winter (click here).  Very helpfully Ramblings Reader Mark left a comment suggesting I could wear a head torch for running in the dark.  Before I go any further, let me say I really did appreciate it, hence this post today.

So with Mark's suggestion I found a head torch we already had and gave it a try.  I used the brightest setting and, to be honest, only the brightest setting stood any chance of being adequate.  Nevertheless if opened up a new possibility for running at night.  Previously I had been wary of this, at least in the countryside, for fear of tripping up.

Running at night opens up a new world and it's a totally different experience.  You get to see the countryside in a different light, quite literally.  I was lucky and had a bit of moon light which was lovely, it brought a lovely quality to the landscape and I was even able to turn the head torch off occasionally.  You hear and smell things differently, although I did try not to feel too spooked by the different unexplainable sounds.

At one point I stopped, in a wooded area.  It was actually the "call of nature" and the need for a pee that made me stop but it was nice just to stand there and listen to rain drops falling from trees and to feel the breeze a little and smell my surroundings.  I started to get cold pretty quickly so I didn't stop for too long.

The Petzl head torch

This isn't bad and as Mark correctly suggested these cost £35.  There are many different variations and it's possible this one is out-of-date already.  It runs from 3xAAA batteries and has four white LEDs.  The yellow button on the top toggles between on > full power > half power > flash mode > off. Getting the battery cover open is a little fiddly but thankfully that doesn't need to be done very often. The battery cover is hinged, helpfully so it is not lost but I think care is needed.  If someone was clumsy you could snap the hinge easily.

Ours has a self retracting cord which keeps it very compact when not in use.  You can see there is a soft pad stuck onto the torch to help it grip your forehead and not slide up, down etc.

In use it's not bad for running but worth making sure the batteries are fairly fresh.  It had proved a very useful house hold gadget to have although we originally bought it for a camping trip (from memory I had a good book to read at night - pre Kindle days).  The most valuable time for it was when I had a puncture on an all-night bike ride - it was a real gem.

Other things to consider with running at night

  • tell someone where you're going and stick to the route, just in case you need to be rescued; let them know when you expect to return home
  • take a mobile phone
  • wear something bright.  I have my Montane Featherlite jacket Montane Featherlite marathon jacket which is bright yellow.  I also have a bib made from a kind of mesh (won't cause over heating!) with some reflective strips on.  I have tied a tiny flashing LED to it at the back so other road users can see me
  • be a little cautious of other people in unusual places at unusual times but don't get paranoid either
  • enjoy the experience.  Doing slightly unusual things adds to the things we can all remember when we're 100 years old, reflecting on all those experiences and how good it was to grasp them as they can lead to meaningful, almost profound memories



  1. Hi Indianist

    Many thanks for the comment and the link.

    I don't think there will be anything extra special about running at night in terms of weight loss but it is more about fitting in with someone's routine and whether it is the most convenient time. If running for 1 hour burns around, say, 600 to 800 calories, that will be the same no matter what time of day?

    Regards, Doug.