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Up Topic General / Letters and Opinions / Running Incognito in the Dark
- - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-05 7:21 PM
Does anyone here, who runs in the dark, prefer to remain incognito, not carrying any lights, or wearing any reflective gear? Pounding the pavement without the lights, or reflective gear has been my preference for predawn running for over twenty years. I've never had a close call with a vehicle. I move out of the way of traffic, always assuming that drivers don't see me. I feel like this has served me well. I also believe I've been heckled a lot less, being that I'm not as visible.

Lately, I've been criticized by some of the other runners in my community, for not carrying lights, or wearing reflective gear. Actually, I find it more difficult to see the road, or up ahead, if I happen to run next to, or behind someone with most types of lights. I generally try to distance myself from someone who is carrying lights.

I'm certain that having lights, or reflective gear makes one more visible in the dark, but I also believe it gives some a false sense of security. I think runners who are highly visible tend to trust that drivers will drive around them. What's your opinion?
Parent - - By PoopedColt Date 2019-01-05 8:46 PM Edited 2019-01-05 8:48 PM
<shyly raises hand>  I've done my outside runs by myself almost exclusively by myself in the dark since DS1 was born over 20 years ago.  Until the last couple of weeks, I've never worn anything reflective or a light.  In the beginning, I'm not even sure they made such things?  But I've grown to prefer running in the dark vs daylight.  I don't like people to see me.  I like to be anonymous.  I also feel like less of a target if nobody knows I'm around.  If this is true, or not, who knows.  I also know that cars don't see me and I always watch out for them. Whether or not I'd be lazier if I wore reflective gear, I couldn't say. But I also live in a small city, and running at 4:30am there aren't that many cars around to worry about.  On a busy road, I might see maybe 2-3 cars per mile - usually a police car or a paper person.  I also have sidewalks on busier roads.  I would be more leery running in the dark in the evening when more cars were out.  I haven't done that in decades if ever?  Hard to remember that far back.

However, all that being said, for Xmas I asked for a headlamp.  I am getting older and I tore my meniscus in 2017 and I am sooooo paranoid about falling.  (I used to fall ALL the time before starting yoga at age 40 - 6 years ago)  And over the past few months, my city has been decimated by flooding.  We have literally hundreds of holes in the street and shoulder and sidewalk still waiting to be fixed and likely won't be fixed for 1-3 years (I can say this with certainty since I work in the dept responsible for getting it done.) We still have large segments of streets without lights. We won't even talked about our riverwalk (paved) trail. So, I got the light to help me see all of the hazards so I don't fall - not for cars.  I will admit I like it much better than I thought.  But, I am also hoping that 20+ years of experience of assuming cars won't see me won't be erased by wearing the light.
Parent - - By noquitter [us] Date 2019-01-06 4:09 PM
I share your fear of falling in the dark. I'm not "Ms Grace" by any means and it's bound to happen.:roll:
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-06 8:58 PM
If I ran in total darkness, I would definitely have a light on board to see my path.
Parent - - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-06 8:56 PM
Thanks for the response. I, like you, think that being hidden in the predawn darkness is safer that broadcasting my presence with lights. I'm able to see the roads from ambient light, so I don't really need the lights for being able to see where I'm stepping.
Parent - - By PoopedColt Date 2019-01-07 3:05 AM
Yes. I am much more concerned about being hurt by a malicious person vs a car. And as you said, in the dark with headlights you can see and hear them coming. In some ways it's easier to notice them in the dark. I do sometimes wonder though what I'd do if someone didnt have their lights on and the car was electric driving on the wrong side of the road. I guess then it just would have been my time to go : pbbt:
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-07 9:50 AM
I think I would hear an electric car. I usually hear bicycles approaching in the quietness of 4:00 am. Have fun out there.:happy:
Parent - - By tahoeblue (spamkiller) Date 2019-01-06 12:22 AM
I'm with you Greg.  As long as I can see well enough to where I'm going, there is no need to advertise where I am.  At that hour, I just pay attention for cars and only run places where I can get way off the road when they approach.

I do sometimes take a headlamp with me, but generally don't turn it on unless I get into someplace where I can't see well enough.
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-06 9:00 PM
Thanks for the reply. I give cars plenty of room. At 4:00 am I can hear a car way before it's close to me. I get out of the way acting like I'm invisible to all.
Parent - - By noquitter [us] Date 2019-01-06 4:05 PM Edited 2019-01-06 4:08 PM
I don't even know that reflective gear or lights make you that much more visible. How many runners have you driven by where you saw lights, but had no idea it was a person until you got right up on them? 

I get flack for a number of things (running in the road, listening to music etc but not in the dark)so I wouldn't let that decide for you. Just be cautious, be alert and know where you are running.  I refuse to be over fearful and hate it when people try to make me so. I do carry a flashlight or reflective gear when I run in the dark, but I don't necessarily feel any safer.
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-06 9:05 PM
I know what you're saying. Sometimes, when I see the way drivers react to runners with lights, I wonder if the lights are a distraction in a bad way. I know we can't guarantee our own safety, but I've never feared being hit by a car. I think I'm very aware of approaching vehicles, and I give them plenty of space. Thanks for the feedback.
Parent - - By blazer85 [us] Date 2019-01-07 10:47 AM
Headlamps mess with my equilibrium, so I never wear them.  I also don't wear reflective gear, but tend to not wear all black when running in the dark.  I feel that keeping an eye out for vehicles is our defense and that is our responsibility to make sure we are not hit by a car.
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-11 4:38 PM
I tend to wear a white shirt when I run in the dark.
Parent - - By brneydrnnr (barney cougar) [us] Date 2019-01-07 10:58 AM
Benji and I run in the dark hours of the morning 98% of the time, and we are lit up like Christmas trees. I have lights on my shoes, and a magnetic flashing light that I wear on the back of my shirt/jacket. Benji has a light on the front of his harness and it's reflective material.

even between 5 and 6 when we get started, there are still enough cars out and about in my area to warrant being visible. with so many people distracted w/ texting, etc - I want to make sure I don't end up as flat Laura some random morning. :laugh:
Parent - - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-11 4:39 PM
Parent - - By brneydrnnr (barney cougar) [us] Date 2019-01-15 9:05 AM
and I thought of something else while I was running this morning. Heaven forbid anything ever did happen to Benji and me while we were running, but if we did get snatched, or whatevs, I want the other people that saw me to remember seeing me out and about. :blush:
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-17 3:01 PM
:cool: Leave a legacy of running.
Parent - - By donnasaur [us] Date 2019-01-07 11:38 AM
it may depend on where you run. Even if I am out around 5am, there are always cars on the roads and they do not look at all. I think it helps my visibility tremendously to have a light.I'm not worried about being incognito, that wouldn't be possible in my area because there are enough street lights, ambient lights etc. that I can't be totally hidden, but a driver who is not aware needs some extra help in the morning.
I also run with pepper spray--I have only used it once on a large dog that wouldn't back down.
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-11 4:39 PM
Parent - - By Arimathea [us] Date 2019-01-07 4:02 PM
Hell no. Our drivers are idiots and one of my frequent running routes involves crossing the freeway onramp. I wear reflective gear.

However, I do not assume that that means drivers will see me. RN (running neighbor) and I frequently find ourselves waving at a car pulling out of the gas station or Starbucks and hollering at the driver to turn on their headlights. No headlights = no reflection.

I don't normally carry or wear a light since most of our roads are fairly well lit. There is one stretch with no lights at all that I avoid 3 weeks out of 4 -- I can see the road when the moon's full or in the third quarter.
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-11 4:40 PM
Parent - - By foggydoggy [us] Date 2019-01-09 2:01 PM
I can't do this because I can't see worth a damn at night, which means if I run at night its in extremely well lit areas.

Besides running I also drive however and even with glasses and legally able to drive; at most speeds a non-illuminated runner might not be something I'd see in time, but given your wise assumption that drivers can't see you as long as you are looking out for yourself have at it. 

I totally agree that we shouldn't rely on our lights and not run defensively. 

I don't run at night so I'm not sure about the heckling issue.
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-11 4:40 PM
- - By Mookiethedog Date 2019-01-05 9:29 PM
This is kind of the first winter I've run in the darkest pitch street lights etc.  I have a headlamp and reflective stuff on....Molly also has a reflective thingee on her collar.....we usually will only see one vehicle at the most while it's really dark and the guy knows we might be running's a dirt road so it's not like he will be going fast either.  I am more nervous about wildlife than vehicles and this time of year it's rare to "run" into trouble. :hug:
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-06 9:13 PM
If I ran in total pitch black darkness, I would probably run with a handheld light or a headlamp. Not to alert cars, but so that I could see the road or trail. I do think that lights on dogs are good. I've had way more scary encounters with vicious, loose dogs than with cars.
- - By Tommeke Date 2019-01-08 10:52 AM
I never wear lights except for the reflective strips that are on most running shirts or shoes.
I do tend to run in places where there are side-walks or parks/fields when it's dark.
Parent - - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-11 4:41 PM
I tend to trip on sidewalks. I hate sidewalk running.
Parent - By Tommeke Date 2019-01-12 6:23 AM
Our streets are usually lit as well, which makes a big difference obviously.
If sidewalks are in bad shape I just run on the street or the bike-path.
I do tend to run on rather quiet streets though and in opposite direction so have a clear view of approaching vehicles.
- - By LDR (100 Mile Stud) [us] Date 2019-01-08 12:18 PM
I remember this being a topic of debate on the Ultralist six, seven years ago.  I bought into the idea that it was better not to identify yourself w/ lights.  When I did my solo journey down and across Indiana, mostly on state highways, I decided to use a handheld w/ flashing red lights on one end to use when a car approached.  It worked, and when the battery went dead a couple of miles from a motel, I really missed it. 

However, these days, I carry a handheld to have something I can strike a loose dog with if I'm attacked, and to see dead animals or tree limbs I might trip over along the edge of the road.  I live in the country, so lighting is very limited.  I've also started wearing a reflective vest. I think the ubiquity of guys driving while talking on their cell phones, plus the new rumble strips down the middle of the highway that drivers are loathe to cross over, have led me to this change.
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-11 4:41 PM
Parent - By LDR (100 Mile Stud) [us] Date 2019-01-12 11:21 AM
I ran in the Big City this morning.  I wore a reflective vest and carried a flashlight.  Was glad I did, and grateful for all the drivers that moved over to give me room.
- By cowboyjunkie Date 2019-01-09 2:43 PM
I did run without anything reflective for many years. The last few years I wear a vest. I run at night only for a couple of months in residential/semi lighted neighborhoods. Traffic is pretty light. I did have a driver yell at me once that he couldn't see me. I think that's when I started to wear a vest. For the drivers who care to pay attention. I know I hate it as a driver, when people are in the road and barely visible due to all dark clothes. Especially on rainy nights. If I ever do become roadkill at least people can't say I wasn't wearing reflective clothing. Mostly though I have always thought you have to run defensively and assume people don't see you...make eye contact etc. day or night. For those who say they don't wear anything reflective, does that include shoes? I didn't think there were any shoes now that don't have some reflective bit? Tape over it?
- - By neustkg (Important) Date 2019-01-11 8:12 AM
I used to run in the dark here.  Sometimes I’d run at 10pm or even 12am.  Around here, you don’t have to run along the roads as we have tons of concrete sidewalks and concrete and unpaved trails through developments and in open space.  I would prefer to run without lights as most sidewalks had plenty of street lighting and I would even run in the open space as I could see far enough ahead due to ambient light from neighboring developments.  But that was when my vision (without glasses) was much better.  Now I wouldn’t run without a head lamp on some of these trails.  Even when my vision was better, a couple of times I tripped on a concrete seam and went down.  Skinned my knees really bad, but after the first trip it healed OK.  After the second trip (maybe 2 years after the first trip), I tripped and skinned my knee and it seemed to heal, but about 2 weeks later I had shooting/burning pains down my leg and when I went to the doctor, it turned out to be a staff infection.  The dr sent me to a knee orthopedic surgeon to make sure there wasn’t anything broken.  At that point, I was told if the staff infection didn’t heal with the heavy duty antibiotics, I would have to be admitted so they could administer heavy duty inter-venous meds in the knee area.  This would have been very complicated as I am on Coumadin now.  But everything cleared up and the knee is OK. 

I’m so clumsy that I tripped in broad daylight this past spring.  I tripped over a speed bump and did the crazy stumble that you do when you trip.  I finally went down, but went down so hard that I actually landed on my face.  To save face, : pbbt: I told everyone I tripped on the trail nearby.  Luckily I healed quickly with no complications.

So suffice it to say, I am staying away from running in the dark these days.  I could probably run with my glasses, but I sweat so much that they would be streaked with sweat within about a couple miles.  If I do run at night, I would need a pretty good headlamp (mine current one is just OK).
Parent - By LDR (100 Mile Stud) [us] Date 2019-01-11 3:40 PM

I get nervous around concrete seams these days also.
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-12 12:19 PM
- - By N70SAK Date 2019-01-11 9:49 AM
Statistically, you are safer. Plus if you do get hit and an insurance company or court asks, you can "yes, I was taking reasonable precautions."

And yes, 3M Scotchlite works! And the darker it is, the easier it is to see. :meh:
Parent - By Greg [us] Date 2019-01-11 4:42 PM
Up Topic General / Letters and Opinions / Running Incognito in the Dark

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