Running in the dark: 
Tips + Gear to Make those runs awesome!

Running in the dark is sometimes what runners prefer and sometimes the only time that runners have to get their runs in! 

I get it!

Ideally, I need to run before my children get up otherwise it just won't happen.

So that means that sometime before they wake up, I need to be out the door and running! 

However, especially in the Fall and Winter months, that can mean running in the dark if I'm choosing to run outside and not on my treadmill. 

It's nice to have an arsenal of tools for running in the dark when you need them! 

Therefore, on this page I will give you some tips for running in the dark and then will also share with you the gear that I use to help keep myself safe, visible and confident during my early morning runs!


Tips for running in the dark:

1. Make it easier for yourself to get ready (a.k.a. be prepared).

It’s going to be exhausting and difficult for you to stick to a routine of getting out of bed to go running when it’s cold and dark outside. Make it easier for yourself to be successful by being prepared! 

We all know that one of the best ways to do that is to simply lay out our clothes and the gear we will be using the night before. 

However, think one step further than that.

Make it easy to actually get your clothes and gear out! 

I like to have large cube basket that I put everything that I use to run in the dark in it.

Nothing else goes in there! Depending on the season (warm or cold...although if we are running in the dark it’s most likely a bit chillier) the clothing items will change however the "running in the dark gear" usually doesn’t. 

I keep this basket in my first floor bathroom as I don’t want to wake up the rest of my family as I’m heading out on a run. 

Therefore since that is the room that I change in, it’s easy for me, the night before a morning run, to simply pull out my “running in the dark basket” and lay out everything that I will need along with my other running clothes. 

In the morning, I wake up (tips for waking up early as a runner here!) sneak into that bathroom, change and gear-up, and head out the door. 

If you have to run around and find all the different items that you need, it’s going to be difficult to keep up your habit of laying your clothes and gear out the night before and then it will be that much more difficult to keep up with your morning or night runs. 


2. If you find yourself forgetting items on your run, make a checklist. 

Tape a checklist to your running-in-the-dark basket or on the inside of a cupboard, etc. I use to forget to prepare my water bottle, and then would realize how thirsty I was when I was already on my run.

Once I made a checklist of things I want to bring on my run, or use before my run, I never forgot to drink water again! 

Some things on my “get ready for a morning run” checklist are:

  • Water bottle ready (in the bathroom)
  • Any vitamins or supplements you take before a run
  • Decide on what I will listen to (I hate it when I waste time in the morning deciding what I want to listen to while I’m running. Therefore, I pick it out the night before.)
  • Check the weather (to make sure you set out the right clothing and gear)
  • Shirt
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Flipbelt
  • Any running in the dark gear that I will be taking with me, etc. 

This might look like a lot of things however, it doesn’t require a lot of work or time because everything is right there and I simply need to “check” to make sure I have laid it out or have gotten it ready. 


3. Be willing to be flexible. 

Some routes aren’t the best option to run in the dark. Running on a secluded trail in the dark is probably not ideal. 

Think about what animals are in your area and that might be a threat to you. Think about which neighborhoods are safe to run in. Think about which areas are well-lit. 

Consider all the factors that make a run different when running in the dark and be willing to forego your favorite routes in order to run at your desired time. 


4. Always communicate to someone your plans. 

Tell them where you will be going, what route you will be taking, how long you are planning to be gone, etc. 

Leave a note on the counter or text a friend but let someone know the details of your run.

This is also something that could go on your prep-checklist the night before which means one less thing for you to do in the morning! 


The running in the dark gear that i use and recommend! 

(If you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small portion. Thank you for your support!)


1. Trailheads Reflective Beanie

The reason I went with this reflective beanie is because of the reflective band that wraps all the way around the head.

So many of the other reflective hats that I looked at, only had the back part of the hat, or sides that were reflective. I wanted something that was reflective from all sides and this one had what I wanted and was a simple style! Definitely up my alley! 

Here’s a photo of myself wearing the hat that I posted on Instagram stories (come follow along!)  after a 3 mile run in the dark! 

Other pros that I love about this hat:

  • It’s fleece which means cozy! Yet it’s not too hot.
  • It fits my head perfectly, I do not need to stretch it to make it fit and there are no gaps for cold air to sneak into.
  • The ponytail opening! Prior to this hat, I never had a beanie with a ponytail opening and so there was always a bit of a gap in the back where cold would enter. 

One thing that I wish was different with this reflective bean is the fact that you can’t roll up the bottom when you put it on so that there is a fold going all the way around and so that you can wear it precisely how you want.

However, I do have one that is not reflective (very similar to this one for women or this one  for men) that I wear when it’s not dark but very cold outside.

If you would like one with the ponytail opening this is the exact reflective beanie  that I have

If you do not need the ponytail opening on your beanie then here is the Trailhead Men's Version of the hat


2. Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight

If you ever run in the dark, you know that it is quite eerie to not be able to see the ground. It definitely slows down your pace and can keep you feeling very nervous throughout the duration of your run. 

You definitely need to be able to see where you are stepping! However, then you run into the problem of finding the right light to light your way. 

So my journey of finding the perfect light to run in the dark with started with….the flashlight on my phone. 

Now granted I use a Loopy Case (it has  a loop on the back so that I can "loop" a finger through it) so I had a grip on my phone but still, it wasn’t ideal at all to be carrying my phone the whole time I was running. 

Then I tried a small little flashlight that was easier to carry and had a loop that you could slide onto your hand to prevent you from dropping it. 

That was okay but the light was so dim that I couldn’t really see much of anything unless I held the flashlight at a low, awkward angle. 

Finally, I had asked you all in a previous email what your favorite pieces of running gear are and one of you mentioned how much you loved this headlamp.

In fact here is what she said:

“This is SUPER affordable, it's rechargeable, and it's bright. I have a more expensive one with no batteries and I was nervous running because I couldn't see as well. This one is great!”

Obviously, I immediately decided to try it out, and I have been loving it as well! It gives off a nice stream of light and has 3 different settings, bright, less bright and flashing. 

I usually use the bright setting on roads or in areas that do not have lighting. Otherwise I keep it on the lower brightness setting. It is very easy to click back and forth to the different settings during a run depending on where you are at! 

If you have wanted something to help you confidently see your way in the dark, this is it


3. Mace/Pepper Spray

Alright, so you might think I’m concerned about fending off the bad guys with this but actually, I’m more concerned about all of the night creatures that are running around in the early morning before the sun is up. 

While I have never had a bad encounter with an animal, I always like to take the pro-active vs. reactive approach to making sure that I stay safe.

Therefore, I carry mace with me for any of those unforeseen circumstances. 

It’s not a big deal at all to have it with me. It fits very easily inside my FlipBelt (you have one of those, right?) and usually I forget it’s even there. If needed, it’s easy to pull out and have in your hand if you have a portion of your run where you know animals like to adventure in and you want to keep it handy. 

Like I said, I have never had to use it but it gives me that little bit of confidence, knowing that I have it in case I do run into an encounter.

This is the pepper spray that I carry with me. 


4. Benvo LED Shoe Light Clips

This is probably my favorite piece of running-in-the-dark gear!

I bought these LED shoe lights, that clip onto your shoes because I didn’t want a car to not be able to see me until I’m right there in front of them. I want to have the confidence knowing that they can see me from a ways away!

These lights do that job extremely well without being obnoxious! 

You can choose to have them flash different colors or a solid color. I was initially worried about them distracting me when I was running however, you can’t see them at all!

They provide you the confidence you need though that cars, cyclists, animals, other runners, etc. can see you! 

Another pro: you don’t feel them on your shoes at all! They are very light weight and unnoticeable! If you run in the dark a lot, you could keep them on your running shoes all the time and you would completely forget that they are there! 

I’m basically a running Christmas tree with all of the reflective lighting pieces that I run with in the mornings. It’s okay. Let’s be safe rather than sorry.  


Do you enjoy running in the dark? What are your best tips or favorite pieces of running gear for running in the dark? Let me know in the comments!

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