A Guide To Running In Winter And At Night

If you’re training for an early Spring marathon or looking to maintain your regular running schedule, the cold winter months, dark mornings, rain and wind will need to become your best friend.

But what if you don’t feel safe and comfortable running in the dark? Does this mean you need to give up on your goals and dreams?

When we talk about safety, we are looking at two possible situations you may find yourself in:

1) Injury caused by running in the dark/at night.

2) Confrontation and intimidation from members of the public when out in the dark/at night.

At OnVenture, safety is our absolute priority. We don’t believe in taking unnecessary risks in the pursuit of your fitness and lifestyle goals. We appreciate active lifestyles can be intrinsically linked to risk, so the best approach is mitigation!

Here are some tips to avoid (completely remove the probability of risk from being realised) and mitigate (not about removing the risk but reducing its impact to an acceptable level) risks and make your nighttime runs safer and more enjoyable!

Winter Park Run
Run with Friends

How to get through the Winter and dark days safely (avoid risk)?

Run at lunchtime

Trying switching up your routine. If you are a morning or evening runner, try to fit in runs around your lunch break in daylight if your work patterns allow. You may not be able to take longer base training runs, but you will be able to work on speed or build and maintain good cardio fitness. Leaving longer runs to the weekends or days off work.

Join a running club

Running clubs are a great way to meet fellow runners, stay motivated and stay safe in groups when running at night.

It’s often easier to keep up with your running routine when organised into a group of people who share similar interests. You’ll also have the added accountability of having others waiting for you at the end of their run; it’s much harder to skip out on the group if everyone else is waiting in front of their houses for you and your fellow runners.

Run with friends and family

Call upon friends and family to join you for a run. Try to meet in safe locations, ideally starting and finishing at someone’s house.

Running with friends and family is a great way to avoid the winter blues and enjoy the company of others. It’s also a great way to learn from each other and share tips on how to get through tough workouts.

Pick up some running buddies who are going through similar times as you, and don’t be afraid to reach out.

Go to the gym

Love or hate the gym; it can be a saviour in the Winter. A gym can be a very safe environment, and a treadmill or cross trainer can provide a consistent and easy-to-track and measure training platform.

If you’re going to be indoors for the Winter, the gym is a perfect alternative.

The important thing is to stay active while also avoiding any unnecessary risks when it comes to your health and well-being.

Night Gym
 Strength Train to Run Fast Running 4

How to keep yourself safe when running in the dark (mitigate risk)?

Running in the dark can be a rewarding experience, but it can also come with some risks. When running at night, you need to be extra careful and aware of your surroundings:

Only run in places you know well

Don’t run someone for the first time, especially at night; ensure you know the area very well, ideally your own street, estate, or village. You don’t want to come across any unexpected sections of missing paths, uneven ground, or very steep climbs.

Drive to well-lit and more populated estates/areas

If your local area needs to provide more safe paved routes or you believe it to not be overly safe when running in the dark, consider driving somewhere that can provide more ideal conditions, such as a different housing estate, well-lit with safe paths and crossings.

Avoid town centres

Town centres do bring plenty of light and safe places; however, it can also be problematic, with unpredictable behaviour and unwanted attention.

Group Run Night
Group Running at Night

Before and during the run (plan and manage):

Ensure you fully plan your run and know safe places

Whichever route or location you choose, ensure you have fully planned your route using free software such as Strava or Google Maps. Ensure you know your turns, road names, key landmarks, and distance and estimated times.

If you have compatible technology, you can consider turn by turn; however, for some, this can be an added distraction. When planning your route, take note of safe places you could visit in emergencies, such as petrol stations, shops and bars.

Ensure you are in high vis and have a light

Carry a small light, such as a bike light. It goes without saying if you are running in the dark, light yourself up! You may want to blend into the background; however, this can bring more problems, such as pedestrians, bikes, and cars not seeing you, causing alarm from people not recognising you as a runner, and if you need assistance, being hard to find.

Let someone know when you’re going and when you expect to be back

If you are running alone, see if you can let someone know when you’re going and when you plan to be back. Doesn’t have to be someone living with you, perhaps a friend or work colleague. The alarm can be raised if they don’t receive your safe home message.

Bring a phone and consider live tracking

We appreciate you wanting to travel light; however, packing a phone could be vitally important. It will enable you to call for help or raise the alarm if you get injured or in danger, or if you get lost, enable you to find your way home.

Be polite and keep moving

If you are running and are approached by an individual or group, we would recommend being polite (even if they are not polite to you). Keep moving and either apologise ‘sorry, I can’t stop’, or if you have headphones on, you can pretend you didn’t hear them.

You want to avoid confrontation at all costs, and by keeping moving, it keeps the distance between you and the aggressor. Use your knowledge from your planned route to change direction and head to a safe place if things escalate, or head to the nearest house where you see lights on.


Night Running Watch
Night Park Run

How to prevent and avoid injury when running in the dark?

Warm up properly before heading out into the darkness

Make sure your muscles are stretched out and loose before starting your run – this will help reduce the risk of injury during exercise. A light jog for 5-10 minutes and dynamic stretches (like lunges) is a great way to get your muscles primed for action.

Side note: it’s also important to take your time to do exercises (not necessarily during warmup) that improve balance – you may not realise how much your sense of balance relies on having good lighting conditions until you try running in the dark!

Wear comfortable pair of running shoes

When running in the dark, it’s important to wear comfortable shoes that are well broken in. You want a shoe with a good grip on the sole, plenty of cushioning underfoot, and an arch support that supports your foot shape. A good heel cup will prevent blisters from forming as well as keep your foot from slipping too much inside the shoe when you run.

Start slow and build up your distance

One of the best ways to prevent injury is to avoid overdoing it. An injury can happen at any time, but you can reduce your risk by starting slow and building up your distance gradually. A good way to build up your distance is to increase the number of days each week that you run (or walk).

For example, if you are currently running only two times a week, try adding a session so that you’re running three times per week. You could also work with a running partner who has similar goals and exercise routines as yourself.

Run on flat, smooth surfaces

Running on flat, smooth surfaces is the safest way to run in the dark. This will reduce your chances of tripping and falling, as well as help prevent shin splints. If you need to run on uneven surfaces, avoid doing so at night or dawn when there are no other runners around for safety reasons.

Watch where you step

This may seem like an obvious one, but there are so many things that can get in the way of your run – and cause injury! Avoid stepping on rocks or sticks, puddles and mud, potholes, and other debris on the road.

And, finally, if you can’t see where you’re going, stop running and walk until your eyes adjust to the dark.

Take extra care when crossing streets at night

Another good rule of thumb is to always check the traffic before crossing any road. Whether you’re running on a sidewalk, or in the middle of the street, make sure that cars aren’t coming before you cross.

Don’t run with headphones or earbuds

Since runners are more likely to run at night when there are fewer people around, it’s especially important not to be distracted by your headphones or earbuds when running in the dark. This is especially true if you’re running on trails or along busy streets that border parks or wooded areas where there may be other runners using the path as well.


Running In Winter
Night Warm Up


In conclusion, stay safe. No run is worth your safety and well-being. You can catch up another time!

If any runners in the Ipswich area are looking to run this Winter and have any concerns for their safety, I would be happy to meet up and run with you; just be kind on the pace!

Thank you for reading

Daniel Coughlan 
Team OnVenture

Discover OnVenture

Speak to the team at OnVenture about booking an active weekend break in Suffolk. There is plenty to choose from, from road and off-road cycling to running, hiking, walking, swimming, and triathlon themed adventures. Plus, we also offer specialist coaching camps, so if you are training for that special event, get in touch.

Call: 01473 355 035