1 EMBRACE THE DARK
You’ve been at work all day and your regular running routes just aren’t as appealing in the cold and dark. Man up. Those familiar surroundings will be completely different in the dark. Your brain will compensate for the lack of visual stimuli and kick into gear. You’ll feel wide awake and your well-trodden paths will become invigorating.
2 INSULATE LATE SHOW
Wrap up smart by layering, with a waterproof outer. Long sleeves, long legs. Pay extra attention to ears, head, hands and feet. Especially the feet; there’s nothing worse than cold, wet toes. Proper outdoor running shoes and Gore-Tex socks are an ideal combo.
3 TIME FOR REFLECTION
Dress like a 1990s raver crossed with a construction worker. Reflective and highly visible. You cannot have too much reflective clothing or use too many additional reflectors or lights. If people point and look at you, that’s the idea.
4 LIGHT THE WAY
A headlamp works wonders. Even the most well- lit runs will have dark areas and corners it will illuminate. And it is perhaps the most effective signal to others.
6. WARM-UP WISELY
Get loose before you go outside. The cold will affect you less, and you’ll be raring to go quicker. But don’t get sweaty; the cold will hit a moist brow extra-hard. If you’re arranging to meet other runners (see point 8), do so indoors. Warm up at the last possible moment and begin your run right away.
7. DON’T LISTEN TO MUSIC
No headphones. Not even the ones that claim to let you hear the essential noise of the streets along with your music. It’s dark and you see less, even with your lights and those on your route. You will need your hearing to help you focus and stay safe. If you are one of those who ‘needs’ tunes to run, this will help wean you off that.
8. HIVE MIND AND BODY
Running as part of a group is great motivation. You’ll feel less inclined to mope off home if you know you’ll let others down by doing so. There is also safety in numbers—and probably someone with an extra pair of gloves.
9. IT’S NOT A RACE
You’re not going to break any PBs at night. Running after sundown is a miles game, not a speed trial. Set a distance and don’t worry about time. Keep a separate set of records if you need to get your stat-isfaction.
10. THE END GAME
Plan to be in a hot shower ASAP after you finish. If that isn’t possible, have a complete change of dry clothes and shoes as well as towels for drying off and rubbing warmth into cold limbs. Have a hat ready to put over damp hair. A hot drink is also a good idea.
11. EAT TO TREAT
Consume as you would after any run: a mix of complex carbohydrates and protein, in a ratio of about 4:1 in terms of weight. The usual chicken pastas and smoothies are fine, but they’re not warming. Try oatmeal or porridge, topped with fruit. Easy and comforting.