Short Days, Long Runs

Why Darkness Won’t Keep A Good Runner Inside


Love it or hate it, there’s no dodging winter and the short days it brings. And, unless you’re a fan of treadmills or actually get time to run during your lunch hour, there’s a good chance you will be running in the dark.

Are you ready for it? Cold hands, toes, nose and ears. Slushy, snowy and slippery conditions. And darkness. Despite what your indoor running peers may say about running outside during the winter, with the right gear and a sense of adventure, you’re actually in for a treat! It’s all about perspective.

So here are IMPACT’s tips and tricks to help you get out the door and explore on those cold, dark winter nights.

Get up and go. The easiest way to introduce yourself to the darkness is running first thing in the morning. Get dressed and get out before your brain realizes what you’re doing! Streetlights provide ample visibility for good footing and ensures that you can properly navigate around the neighbourhood. Start by doing laps around the block, staying close to home so you can grab or shed clothing layers. If you time it right, it won’t take long before the morning glow of the sun starts to peek over the horizon!

Gear bag. It’s been a long, hard day at the office. You’re tired and hungry. The last thing you feel like doing is running in the dark. Leave a gear bag (and snack) at work or in your car. Having easy access to your kit is the key to a quick escape. No excuses — put it on, grab a bite and go. Once you’re outside and on the move, you’ll be rewarded with an energizing run.

Dressing in layers is the key to being comfortable. Focus on your extremities and keep them warm! Big mittens and a neck tube scarf can make a huge difference in the cold. More important is your visibility. If your running wear doesn’t have reflective panels, it’s time to go shopping. Most brands offer functional and stylish options that will light you up like a Christmas tree when headlights shine your way.

Shoes. Trail running shoes are great for winter running. With built-in stability, extra traction and winterized (Gore-Tex) versions, they are guaranteed to make a difference! I prefer spiked, or studded, trail runners (not track spikes). These offer the best traction in winter conditions. More-affordable options include aftermarket pull-on chains or microspikes, such as Kahtoola and YakTrax.

Lights. Imagine what a good light could do for your footing and confidence when running in the dark. There are many headlamp-type products out there: Petzl, Princeton Tec, Ay-Up, to name a few. The more lumens means the brighter the light will be. Some shine far, wide or up close. You can add a regular handheld flashlight for more firepower. Find one that suits your price range and let it light your way through the dark.

Trail running at night. Bored of your regular night route? One of my favourite parts of winter running is exploring the local trails at night. Trails that you normally run in daylight become new again. You get a totally different perspective as you follow only your light’s beam a few metres ahead — it’s literally night and day! Invite a friend to help you break the ice and I guarantee it will be an exhilarating experience!

Bring on the winter nights!

Phil Villeneuve operates a sport-marketing business in Canmore, Alta., where he spends most of his free time roaming the local trails in search of his next adventure, day or night.




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