As soon as the clocks change and it get dark by 5pm, it gets harder to convince yourself that you really do want to change into your running gear and head out of the door.
Keeping up your training over the winter months gives you a head start come the spring, keeps your hard earned fitness up and gives you a smug glow as you think of those who are snuggled on the sofa eating crisps or chocolate.
However, it is really important that you plan ahead for these dark runs, both for your own safety and that of those around you.
Don't rush straight from work with no lunch or no afternoon snacks and expect to run fast. Make sure you have a lunch which allows for an evening run or perhaps a mid afternoon protein bar or snack. Plan to eat immediately after your run too, to replace the energy expended and don't forget to keep your fluid levels up, even though you may not have the same amount of thirst as you have in the summer months.
Remember that when it is both dark and wet, the braking time of drivers may well be slower so be sure that you are aware of that if you are road running. Cold icy weather has an effect on the tarmac leading to a chance that it may crack and more potholes could appear. If there has been a lot of rain those potholes may well be full of water, while it's not dangerous getting wet feet you are more likely to turn your ankle as you can't judge the depth.
Yes, of course, we all know that wearing Hi Vis clothing means that you are easier to spot on a dark run but do you actually do it? You don't need to spend lots of money, although there are some seriously sexy Hi Vis jackets and tops available if you want to add them to your Christmas list! Flashing armbands, they may not last for more than one season but you can often pick them up in Lidl or Sports Direct for around £2-£3. Gloves, Hi Vis Bands or bibs are also a good idea, we have some Hi Vis vest available for SLJ runners to use but if you prefer something lighter feel free to bring your own. Wearing something reflective on both your arms and legs causes an unusual light pattern at night which will catch the eye of drivers, keeping you safer.
Whether you choose a hand held torch, a head torch or perhaps a chest torch, having the ability to see where your feet are going to land is also a must. Villages around Sevenoaks vary light wise, but in the town center some streets are well lit and some have poor lighting. For obvious reasons we avoid any group runs in dark areas but even a well lit street can be uneven under foot and a torch may well prevent falls.
Personally I find a head torch gives me a headache so I carry a small hand one and flash it on and off as and when needed. I love the idea of the wrist one shown in the picture but can't find a stockist in the UK. Whatever works for you, purchase something that you are comfortable with and use it for each run, to keep you and those around you safe.
Anyone who has ever cycled in a group will be very used to the calls from the front to those behind of 'Pothole!' 'Glass!' or some other potential danger. Runners would do well to adopt this method of communication and shout to others if there is something that they might avoid - even dog poo! If anyone does fall, stay with them, give First Aid ( if you are able to) and make sure that they don't finish the run alone. Click here for information about Fractures or Head Injuries if you would like to know more.
Running with music can be motivating and fun but adds yet another danger at night. SLJ group runs are headphone free but we'd advise you not to use them if running alone in the dark.