GUIDE TO NIGHT RUNNING
Darkness falls and the curtains are drawn on the outside world, but there’s a treat around the corner for runners who venture out after dark, a secret world where your senses come alive. You’ll discover adventure, experience running in a new light and see things you’ve never seen before.
We’ve put together a guide to help inspire you to get out on the trails after dark, so step away from the treadmill, pull on a headtorch and read on…
5 REASONS TO HIT THE TRAILS AFTER DARK
- Night running is fun! There’s a unique sense of adventure that you can’t experience in daylight. Running in your bubble of light you’ll feel faster and enjoy new challenges.
- Discover another world – you’ll get closer to nature, you might see owls, badgers, foxes or any number of fantastic nocturnal species that you might only see on the TV otherwise.
- Reinvigorate old running routes– trails look and feel different at night, boring ‘run of the mill’ routes you’ve pounded out in daylight are refreshed and exciting again.
- Awaken your senses – your sight, hearing and sense of smell will come alive when you’re running at night. You might hear badgers chomping on bluebell bulbs or catch the earthy scent of a fox, all with a moonlit background and twinkling stars.
- Get a warm glow – when you get home after a night run that cup of tea, pint of beer or pub meal will taste so much better. You’ll recount tales of adventure and bask in the warmth and shelter.
OUR TOP TIPS FOR NIGHT RUNNING
Finding your route
In the dark, everything looks and feels different so planning your run is essential for your enjoyment and safety. Whether you choose to run solo or share the fun with a group it’s a good idea to scope out an untried route in daylight and make sure you are confident navigating it before the run.
GPS units can be a real help if you’re trying something more adventurous but if you familiarise yourself with the main features (that can be seen with your headtorch) and turns of the route you’ll have more confidence. Remember you won’t be able to use far off points of reference to navigate so choose a route with a clear trail to follow so you don’t run off target. Start with a route you know like the back of your ungloved hand and build up from there.
Preparing to go
There’s new skills to be learned when hitting the trails at night so a little preparation helps. Remember to warm your muscles up before hitting the trails as you’ll be less steady on your feet to start with and little slips can be brushed off if your muscles are warm and ready for it. You’ll also notice that depth perception will change as the source of your light is no longer cast by the sun, rather it is the beam of light emanating from your forehead. Tree roots cast shadows differently with a headtorch so tread carefully when starting out and remember that practice (with a headtorch) makes perfect!
Perhaps the most important piece of equipment for night running is a headtorch. There’s a wealth of choices when it comes selecting one of these but the key features to consider boil down to the following:
This is measured in lumens and gives an indication of the total visible light in the beam. This measure is the simplest way of telling how bright a headtorch is but this strength can look different depending on how the light is distributed in the beam. Depending on the type of night running you are doing, aim for a minimum of 120 lumens for trail running and more if possible.
This is simply how far the headtorch will cast its light. A longer beam is often better for trails as it enables you to see what’s coming up along the trail.
Comfort & Usability
Consider where the batteries will sit on the headtorch, how the straps are arranged and look at the weight of the unit. Some of the more powerful non-running focussed torches may not be comfortable when you are running. Also consider the functioning of the torch, can you press the buttons with gloves on and can you alter the beam power to save battery on a long climb or at twilight?
It’s worth considering the battery life of the headtorch. Some will use standard AAA’s enabling you to carry spares whereas others may be USB charged. Look at the battery life of the torch when it is on full beam – is this long enough for your longest run? Some Petzl headtorches use Reactive Lighting technology to automatically alter their brightness based on light conditions and hence prolong battery life.
In order to really enjoy a night run you must be comfortable so make sure you’ve got all you need to cope with the conditions. Everything is amplified at night so be extra cautious and take a lightweight waterproof, wear your running tights and remember your hat and gloves. A small rucksack can help you take a few extras to cope with falling temperatures or unexpected inclement winter weather.
Whilst night running is perfectly safe there’s a few points to remember before heading out:
- Tell someone where you’re going and for how long.
- If you’re spending any time at all on roads make sure you are wearing high viz clothing so you can be seen. Have a read of our stay seen, stay safe guide.
- Going for a long one? Take spare batteries, water and food.
- Ditch the music for night runs, you need to use all your senses when you’re running in the dark..
So you’ve experienced the thrills of a night run, conquered the darkness, shared the countryside with wildlife and beaten the elements – there’s no better way to relax. A hot mug of tea or a slap up pub meal, the simplest things taste great when you’ve finished your night run so sit back, relax and revel in your achievement.
Try a night run with the National Trust
The National Trust Night Run series is the perfect way to get out and try all the fun of a night run with a group of people. If you’ve ever wanted to run around the gardens of a Tudor Manor house or explore ancient woodlands after dark then Night Run gives you the chance. Find out more and book a memorable Night Run experience.