Into The Darkness

If you’ve never tried it, you don’t know what you are missing.

It is something so simple, yet it adds a whole new dimension to your training.

Many people are afraid of it, and for that reason they don’t try it.

If you are time poor and struggle to fit your longer runs in, this may be the solution you need.

So, what is it…?


The Night Run.

For me at least, finding time to train as much as I’d like is near impossible. The answer of course is to forget about finding time and start creating it. Ok, so you can’t create time, but you can reorganize your time so that you can fit in what you need to fit in. One way to do this is to run at night.

If we are totally honest with ourselves, we have to admit that being a runner means giving up certain things. If you run in your lunch break, you give up the time that you would use to relax and eat your lunch. If you run before breakfast, you may need to get out of bed earlier and forsake some sleep. If you run on the weekend you are likely to be giving up some time with your family or time that you would otherwise spend some other way.

To run at night you will be swapping TV on the couch time or perhaps some of your sleeping time for something that would otherwise take up precious daylight hours that you don’t always have spare.

But I wouldn’t feel safe running at night – I hear you say.

Fair call. Depending on where you live, it may not be safe to go running at night alone. Try making your night run something you do with a friend. You may also be able to find a road that is well lit, with plenty of people passing by.

If this isn’t sounding too appealing to you, perhaps a night trail run is more your style? I can tell you from experience that running trails in the dark can be great fun and really challenging.

I do recommend though, that you take two essential items with you for your night runs.

Firstly the obvious one is good torch. A head torch with a strong beam can make your night run so much more comfortable. I often also carry a small hand torch that I use to add some extra definition to the trail. Given that my eyesight is not 100%, having a bit more light makes a huge difference on tricky terrain.

The second MUST is a mobile phone. This is for more than the obvious safety function of being able to call if you need help. The other reason is for Google Maps. This has saved me more than once when running at night, getting caught up in the peace and quiet, perhaps missing a turn or two and not being able to identify the landmarks that are obvious in the daylight. A quick look at the iphone to see where my little blue dot is on the map, and I’m back on track. Getting a bit lost can be half the fun of running at night, assuming of course that getting lost in the dark doesn’t terrify you!

The night run disclaimer comes with the recommendations of wearing something bright and reflective, being sure to tell someone where you are going and what time you are expected to return and taking appropriate clothing with you to manage the temperature.

This summer Chris and I plan to do quite a bit of our training at night and on trails. We are both busy family men and don’t like to give up too much time with our kids to indulge in our sport. The summer nights being warmer and often with a bright moon, make fantastic conditions for running.

One other bonus of the night run is the look on people’s faces. It never ceases to make me laugh when someone is on their way home from a late shift at work or getting home from a night out partying and they look up and there is some guy in running shorts, a hydration pack on his back, a head torch and a stupid grin from ear to ear. Their face tells a story of surprise, total confusion and disbelief. I just say hello and keep on running as they try to figure out if they had one too many drinks at the pub or if I am an escaped mental patient. Perhaps there is truth in both explanations…

As I finish writing this article, the clock reads 10:42pm. Perfect! Time for a run.


Run long,

Shaun Brewster.

Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. Antony Daamen
    4 years ago

    HI Shaun, yeah night (early evening for me) running is great. I like to start a bit before sundown so I enjoy the beaut colours in the parks around here as the sun goes behind the horizon. When it gets to dark to see any snakes, I go to the mayor streets and run home.. Often all up about 10-15kms

  2. Dean Cox
    4 years ago

    Thanks Shaun, for another reminder article. Leading up to and during my first TNF 100 in 2011, my Wife and I began night trail running and found a whole new world of discovery, apart from the adrenaline-pumping excitement of being surrounded by complete darkness. During TNF 100 it was coupled with freezing cold and soul-destroying fatigue, but so exciting that I had to go back in 2012……and the 50 in 2013. 2014 will see me Sweeping, so there’ll be more night running, but without the race stress. Thanks again. Dean

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