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Be seen while running

Training safely at night

We always need to think about safety and being seen at night, and it's important to stay safe when running in the dark. Here are the basic precautions you need to think about when going for a run at night time:

1. Whenever you venture out, even if it is for only 20 minutes, you should always let someone know where you're going, your exact route and approximately how long you expect to be. If you're heading out from an empty home or office, call a friend, partner or relative to advise them of your plans, and call them again to check in when you return.

2. Carry some form of identification with you. A business card or piece of paper with your details on will do. This means that if something does happen to you; for example; if you faint with exhaustion while running on a very hot day, you will be easily identified and your family or friends can be notified to come and help you out.

3. Plan your routes carefully. By this we don't mean you should avoid your favourite routes because they go across remote areas or miss out on some spectacular scenery, but that you should take care with your choice. Try to limit danger points on your runs. For example, areas where you would be difficult to spot if you had a fall or injury, dark alleyways, or known local black spots.

4. Where possible run in pairs or groups. If you haven't got anyone to run with, try your local running club. Most clubs have members from a range of ages and ability levels, and offer a friendly social gathering point as well as providing the opportunity to meet new running partners and discover new routes. A club will also offer you information on local races, the best places to buy kit, and where to get treatment for injuries.

5. If your routes take you out across the fells or downs, the Fell Runners Association (FRA) advise that you carry a bum-bag containing full waterproofs; hat, gloves, whistle and compass, and something to eat, whatever the weather. This means you can keep warm, even in exposed areas, if you have to stop or slow down. In some longer fell races, the FRA insists, for safety reasons, that all competitors carry this equipment to participate and any runners caught without it are disqualified.

6. During the winter, when work and family commitments mean that you can't always run in the light, you need to take a few extra precautions to keep you safe in the dark.

The most important thing is to make sure you can be seen. Dark clothes and shoes can make you virtually invisible to motorists, particularly if you're trying to cross a busy road where the glare of headlights can reduce visibility further still, or if you're running along the edge of a narrow road, because there is no footpath.

Wear bright clothing and light colours, at the very least wear a white t-shirt as a top layer. Look for wind jackets, tops, and tights with reflective strips that are highly visible even on the darkest road.

Alternatively, invest in a lightweight reflective running bib in luminous green or yellow with reflective strips around the middle. You cannot be missed in these cheap but highly effective tops that tie at the sides, so even if you are padded up in many layers on the coldest of days, they will still fit.

If some of your routes are along darker streets and roads, you could try a head torch which will light up both you and your path. There are a number of designs that are small and compact enough to run with and bright enough to see and be seen. You'll find head torches at your local mountaineering or outdoor shop. They are relatively inexpensive, and could provide a novel solution to dark roads, particularly if you live in a rural area with few streetlights.

All that said, running is by no means a dangerous sport, you just need a bit of common sense.

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