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A Guide To Trail Running At Night

14 October 2020
A Guide To Trail Running At Night

With winter rapidly approaching and most people working during daytime, it can be difficult to hit the trails in daylight. Although running at night may seem dangerous at first, it’s becoming increasingly more common. With the right gear and know-how, you’ll be well on your way to lacing up your favourite running shoes and heading out into the unknown.

As with any sport, trail running in the dark comes with its challenges, common ones being trip hazards and difficulty seeing what lies ahead. However, it can also be rewarding with spectacular sightings of wildlife you never hear or see during the day, making your local trails that little bit more exciting.

Staying Safe

group of people running through a forest at night

  • Bring a friend – Whether you’re going with a fellow runner or your 4-legged, furry best friend, having someone with you can boost your confidence by adding just that extra bit of safety on the trail.
  • Let someone know – If bringing someone with you is proving difficult, it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you are going and when you are expecting to return, so if you do have any problems along the trail, someone will know where to find you.
  • Stay alert – It is recommended that headphones should not be worn when running in the dark. With limited visibility, you have to rely on all of your senses, including your hearing. Be sure to stay aware of your surroundings, including other trail runners and the local wildlife.
  • Take spare batteries – The last thing you want to happen during your run is for everything to suddenly go pitch black! If you don’t want to be left stranded in the middle of nowhere, make sure you take plenty of spare batteries with you for your headtorch to avoid any unexpected complications along the trail.
  • Take it slow – The terrain along the trails can be difficult at the best of times and even more so in the dark. It’s best to start off slow and adjust your speed the further you get into your run as you become better adapted to the terrain and visibility.

Night Time Essentials

essential items for trail running at night

  • Headtorch – A source of light is crucial when on the trails in the dark, it is common for runners to also take a handheld torch, this can help to remove tunnel vision as there are two sources of light.
  • Bright Clothing & reflectors – When running in the dark be sure to wear bright coloured clothing and reflectors so you can be seen by fellow trail runners or on-coming traffic if your run doesn’t quite stick to the trails.
  • Extra layers – As temperatures lower, it’s wise to take an extra clothing layer with you. Your body temperature naturally cools down at night so bringing an extra layer will help keep you warm.
  • Snacks – It’s always a good idea to bring a few snacks along with you, even if you’re not planning on being out long. You never know, you might be out longer than you expected.
  • Mobile phone – Although a mobile phone is recommended, it should not be relied upon as some routes may not have any phone service.

If you need more information on what to take with you, check out our trail running clothing buying guide.


silhouette of a man stretching at night

Are there any benefits?

Absolutely! Researchers have now discovered that running at night can actually help you sleep better. This could be due to the increase in body temperature that comes with exercise. Exercising between 1 and 2 hours before nodding off could be just the trick for a better night sleep.

Equally, going for a run early in the morning is a great way to get your body energised and ready for the long day ahead. Getting your blood pumping and endorphins flowing will keep you focused throughout the day.

Hitting the trails in the dark can be great fun. It is an opportunity to see your normal trail come to life in the bright light shed from the moon above.


beth dean

About the Author:

Beth Dean - Outdoor Expert

Camping with her family when she was younger, Beth quickly realised her love for the outdoors. Now, a few years down the line, Beth has developed a passion for all things health and fitness and is out running her favourite routes whenever she can.

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