Friday Question #232

By , March 29, 2013 7:25 am

What safety precautions do you take so you’ll feel safe when you are out (exercising or whatever) by yourself in the dark?

Hey! This is my first ever reader-submitted Friday Question! Do you think I should ask for some reader suggested Friday Questions?

Jess from Three Men and a Mommy just had her second son and is already training for a half marathon – the Chicago Women’s Half Marathon on June 23 – the same one I am running with Anne – woot woot, blogger meetup!

Oops. Got a bit off track there. 

Jess emailed me saying that with a new schedule with two kids, she finds herself running very late or very early, in the dark. And she doesn’t feel 100% safe despite telling her husband her exact route, and when she’ll be back. So! She asked what I do to feel feel safe running in the dark (which I have actually come to strangely prefer). What about you?

What I do to feel safe running in the dark

  • Always run with my cell phone
  • Use a tracking app on my phone so my husband knows where I am at any exact moment. I use Glympse, which Erin recommended to me last year. 
  • Wear a form of ID – I wear a ROAD ID
  • Be as reflective as hell – reflective hat, vest, tights, bracelets


  • Wear a headlamp and other lights
  • Stick with well-lit courses
  • Run by homes – not on trails
  • Run on the sidewalk if possible
  • Don’t wear headphones
  • Run with someone (if possible)!
  • Have ninja skills

Things I don’t do but know other people do to feel safe running in the dark

  • Carry pepper spray
  • Know self defense
  • Run loops that keep you close to home (if it won’t make you crazy)

34 Responses to “Friday Question #232”

  1. Kandi says:

    I don’t run in the dark. That’s how I stay safe. Ha! But seriously, I think your suggestions are good ones. I like the idea of Glympse and will have to check it out. I think it would make me and my husband feel better about some of the longer runs I do. Last week I was a little nervous to run on the canal by myself but it was fine. I did have my phone with me and ran without head phones though (ok, I lost my ipod but I was debating on whether to use it anyway and would have either had the sound low or only one earbud in).

  2. I run by myself in the dark all the time. I keep to main roads and stick to the sidewalks. I also don’t wear earbuds so I can hear if there are any cars, people, or animals near me. I have never felt unsafe. I love the early morning runs when there are very few people out. I would be interested in finding the apps you suggested. I don’t like to carry my phone when I run but I would consider it.

  3. Anne says:

    You don’t know self-defense? I’ll teach you! I took a whole semester in college (needed the credit hours) and have taken refreshers over the years. It’s kind of fun, and it made me feel so much better living in somewhat skeevy areas here by myself for as long as I did.

    To answer your question, I’ve used Glympse for my runs since you sent me one, and I know Bob loves watching them, haha! I always run with my phone too (have to take selfies, duh) because something may happen, but I should get a road ID. I probably shouldn’t run with headphones by myself, but I’m usually pretty aware of who is around when I run. Except the other day when a friend from the gym saw me and was apparently running after me and yelling my name. Woops.

  4. I carry spray, tell husband where and how far I’m going and take the dog. I also carry key between my fingers. I was once told by someone who practice martial arts that an attacker expects you to back away and not lunge forward so So I carry my key that way so I can lunge Forward and get them in the eye.

    • kilax says:

      Ooo! That is a good tip! I never would’ve thought of that.

      The other day I ended up carrying a large safety pin in my hand for an entire run. Does that count? Ha ha.

  5. Christina says:

    I always carry pepper spray with me! Kind of weird but you never know the crazies out there!

  6. Rachel says:

    I am so jumpy in the dark that I violate one of those tips – I run with music. I keep it low so I can still hear stuff around me, but I am so hyper alert in the dark that I jump at every little sound, which doesn’t make for a very enjoyable run. The low music helps drown out every little leaf rustle.

    I always use a headlamp and blinker and wear reflective clothing. I also stay in town on the sidewalks and let Kevin know when I’ll be back and where I’m going. Sometimes I carry a pocket knife if I’m extra paraniod.

  7. Maggie says:

    Those are great tips! The only thing I would add would be to listen to your gut. If something seems weird or off, head home or to a safe place.

  8. Kiersten says:

    When I am traveling, I do carry pepper spray if I feel like the area isn’t safe. But other than that, I am pretty bad about it. I don’t tell anyone where I am going and I listen to music. OOops.

  9. Xaarlin says:

    I don’t run in the dark. Not because I’m worried about being attacked, but because the lakefront is very uneven and I have a tendency to trip.

    I don’t carry spray because I’ve always read it will likely be used against the victim.

    I do carry my ID, cell phone and keys.

    I do sometimes bring my vicious dog. Hehe (I can make him start barking & be scary)

    I never run with music outside.

    And.. I think people should NEVER assume running in the dark is unsafe or running during daylight is safe.

    A woman was attacked on the lakefront while running a few months ago around 2pm on a Friday afternoon.
    (I remember reading another story- similar in nature to this one a year ago)

    I actually haven’t heard of any runners getting attacked at night around here.

  10. Erin says:

    Great tips! I just don’t love running the dark by myself because I just don’t like the idea of being out by myself like that. Even when I don’t have headphones in I still tend to zone out which isn’t the best idea.

    However, I do love running in the dark with other people. I wear a reflective vest and a headlamp and always assume that any cars I see don’t see me.

    • kilax says:

      That is a good point. Assuming cars don’t see you/that they aren’t paying attention. You kind of have to be on the defense when you run in the dark!

  11. jan says:

    I look similar to you when I run in the dark except I don’t wear a headlamp. If I have my daughter in the (very reflective) jogger, I’ll hook a bike headlamp to it, though. I also use a reflective leash for my dog and I used to hook a blinking light tag thing to her until it broke. I don’t leave town when it’s dark, either. Country roads scare me. Aren’t there banshees and things out there? LOL

  12. Matt says:

    I’m not a runner, but am a cyclist. I prefer not to run in the dark/dawn if I don’t have to, but occasionally, I do ride to work before it is real light out. Even worse is riding in fog. Anyway, my safety items are a headlight and flashing taillight on my bike. My vest and shorts have reflective lettering and my vest is bright green. I prefer this over many of the other colors because it makes me stand out on the road. I’m considering carrying some sort of spray for dogs because I’ve had a couple close calls with dogs. I’m rather surprised how fast they can run.

    • Alyssa says:

      Yes dogs! Those things are scary. One minute they are just looking at you wondering what you are doing and the next they are bounding at you and you are pedaling for dear life.

  13. shelley says:

    thanks for the are one smart cookie 🙂

  14. I tend to run in the neighborhood when it is dark so my husband knows the general area I’m in! And I think reader submitted questions would be super fun! Here’s one…how often should you replace your running shoes? What is the magical number of miles? I’ve seen so many articles and studies out there but was never sure…I probably should replace my shoes a lot more often than I currently do– whoops! And what do you do with your old shoes?

    • kilax says:

      Ahh, yes. I can answer a lot of those questions. Except for the miles. That is personal. The shoes are too, but I can tell when they need to be replaced by looking at them, and by how they feel 😉

  15. Alyssa says:

    Great tips! I always run with my phone and my road id. I try to avoid running in the dark because I don’t have a lot of safety gear and I don’t trust the cars. When I do I try to stay on well light streets with traffic.
    I am going to look into that app you mentioned. Since I live alone, no one would expect me back. This is actually a huge fear of mine-that something will happen to me and no one will notice for 2 days.

  16. martymankins says:

    From an outdoors perspective, I take an extra flashlight with me when outdoors in the dark. Most of my outdoors in the dark is normally camping and walking from the campsite to the potty. I do have a hat that has a built in light in it, so that’s light #1. Then I have a small Maglite that I keep i my pocket for extra light.

    My iPhone is what I use indoors when getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

  17. Jess says:

    Thanks Kim! We don’t live in a “dangerous” area, many people would refer to it as the sticks…haha. I’m definitely going to look into that app! That’s awesome! I wear a military pt belt & stick to the sidewalks, I think I’ll invest in a headlamp. I love reading all the comments, you all have amazing suggestions! Now, if I can find someone to train my dog to run with me! 🙂

  18. Mica says:

    I like your tips! I’ve really been slacking lately in the safety department–I haven’t been putting on my wristband RoadID for, basically, no reason at all. The tracking app is really smart. I’ll have to ask you about this in like FIVE HOURS WHEN I SEE YOU!!!!

  19. Michele says:

    I run with pepper spray, my cell phone, and Road ID. I don’t run when it’s dark, except one time when the hubby was with me.

    I had a scare about 3 years ago when I was out running on an early July morning. Here typically at the peak of summer, you can run at 5:30 and it’s already light out. So I headed out about 5:45am and had a vehicle follow me. I saw him 4 times while I was running, and he was stopped once. Not a lot of traffic out by my house so he could’ve taken me. When I finished the run (I cut it way short) the truck was on my road, as I went it, the hubby was coming out. I told him to go out of the house so the person would see I have a man at the house. I’ve never seen the truck again.

    It scared the crap out of me, so the hubby went and bought me some pepper spray.

    I try to run with my dog too, not that he’d help me, he’d probably just lick them, or run in the opposite direction!!

    And I’m totally checking into that app!

    • kilax says:

      I should add “run with your dog” to the list 🙂

      That would freak me out too. I get weirded out seeing cars do strange things in the early am when I run.

  20. Melie says:

    Well, I don’t run in the dark. I don’t know if this keeps me safe or not, but I feel safer if at least I can see what’s coming towards me. And given my recent move and lack of emergency contacts on my phone, I am scared to end up as a Jane Doe at a morgue or something. Dramatic much? I blame in on years of watching cop shows.

  21. Losing Lindy says:

    Did you end up having a run date with the girl you chased and scared last week?

  22. Michelle says:

    I do many of the same thing. Running aps are great because you can be tracked.

  23. I always bring my phone and use Glympse for long runs thanks to your recommendation!

  24. Kim says:

    I’m definitely going to check out that tracking app! Thanks for posting it!

  25. J says:

    I wear my reflective vest pretty much year round when I run outside. From about Sept/Oct to April I wear my headlamp for my morning runs. I hate wearing it but I know it helps cars see me on the road. I try to wear bright white or reflective clothing but its hard in the winter since I wear black spandex and a purple running jacket. I have the GPS Tracker app on my iPhone, I haven’t heard of glimpse but it prolly works the same way. I don’t always run with my phone tho…. bad me. I never run with headphones. I usually feel pretty safe running in the dark -I just go with my gut. Like this morning, I ran past a car that made me feel not so safe, so I took a different route on the way home when I saw the car was still in the same spot (had its light on but I don’t know if someone was in it. I do have a runners id but also don’t wear it all the time…bad me. Thankfully Ive never had a car follow me or have a car stop and try to talk to me while I am running in the dark.

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