Trail running at night!

Anyone got any tips for seeing at night now are days are getting shorter?

Would love to keep up the running (now aiming for a sub 40m 10k) but still want to stick to trail stuff. Did it last night and it was pretty tricky in near darkness!

 Head torch or something? Not worried about looking daft!


  • has this months rw mag got some pictures of people sporting the very thing your lookin for
  • Petzl Tikka XP are pretty good...have one myself and used it on numerous occasions. THe Myo is meant to be even brighter.

    Failing that eat lots of carrots.

  • Learn your route well in daylight then use a headtorch for the night run. Even on trails wear flourescent clothing, you never know if you may need to change to a road route to get home for some reason. Don't spend your life savings on the torch, look at Mountain Warehouse products or just local hardware stores. I have a  combined blue/white LED 10 bulb headtorch that I use for pitch black XC running! Cost £15 from MW 2 years ago, still on first set of batteries.

    Angle the torch down if you're approaching cars or pedestrians [is that too obvious to state?!].

    And remember you're very likely to terrify any little old, dog-walking grannies straight out of their wellies running around in the dark! Learn to shout a friendly hello!!

    An extra nugget of info for anyone reading who does run on roads at night - I also have a small flat torch pinned to my 'roadside' hip. It gives drivers a much clearer idea of where you are if the edge of the road is dark. I've had loads of positive remarks yelled at me for that one!!

    Happy winter plodding folks - here it comes. 

  • Limper

             good idea what touch do you use for that? being a bit thick can't think what to us.

  • s*d it!

    Red bike LCD cliped to arm band!

  • Cheers all - some handy tips.
    Will check out RW - already have a hi vis from cycling and it looks really daft!
  • Hi Taff,

    My 'hip' light was something I got from a horsey shop for wearing around your riding boot. Anything that isn't so heavy it pulls you over sideways is going to do the trick though. It's just to give drivers a reference point really.

    This might be a link to Mountain warehouse and they might have something useful. Or I might be living in cuckoo land.

  • Evening all,

    I’m new to this lifestyle; anyway felt I could add my 2 cents.

    I’m partially sighted and I like to run in the evening and at night (30:30), I know it seems a bit odd, nevertheless, I find it easier than trying to work out what everyone else is doing coming the other way.

    I found that keeping away from road traffic is good for your eyes and ears, and you then don’t need reflective clothing, I don’t use a touch so not to draw attention to myself, as its at night, I can happily run on the pavements through residential areas.

    I also run around public areas such as parks & woods. People tell me it’s dangerous and indeed, I’ve noticed the odd underside of civilisation here or there, but I know where I am, that I can out run them and where to get help, so that’s not an issue.

    Learn your route well in the daylight, (important if you haven’t done the route of a while) and then in lower light levels, things can look quite different when all the light sources change.

    Know your escape routes as well; don’t run where you have no access to help, don’t take expressive items or music but if you are so inclined, take a personal alarm and know how to use it effectively.

  • Have a loog at this article, "Stay-safe Winter Running Tips" - By Alison Hamlett

    I would rebut a few of the notes therein, but such things are only a matter of different experiences, good stuff:

  • Perhaps trail running at night leading to trail racing at night?

    I don't know if anyone has heard of the Sleepwalker Midnight Marathon event in Brecon - I marshalled for the race this year and there was a real buzz about the place, even more so on completion. I was so impressed with the participant feedback that I'm running it next year. So like some of you guys, headtorch on this winter to clock up some trail miles in preparation for the 2008 Sleepwalker. Must say that after doing a couple of runs in the dark already this year the experience is that your senses really become tuned to the activity, makes you feel very sharp and alive! Jay

  • I keep running through the long evenings (not to mention ice and snow) here in Norway and this is my 2 crowns' worth:

    • give youself a whole handful of brownie points for being out there at all
    • use a headtorch that has some flood or waste light to the sides, otherwise you feel like you're running in a tunnel
    • wear things with retro-reflective patches - fluorescence doesn't work from headlights
    • pick trails you know well or make sure the trail doesn't have stumbling points you're not aware of, like pointy rocks or treeroots
    • If you need accompaniment to avoid boredom, listen to speech podcasts or audiobooks that are fine in mono, instead of music, and through one earbud, not two, so you can keep in touch with what's happening around (and not get spooked by shadows image
    • if you're good at getting up in the morning, ask your boss if you can come in to work a bit early and leave a bit early so you still have some dusk to run in
    • if it's liable to be icy or packed snow that you might not see to avoid, consider purpose-made shoes with spikes (I don't mean track shoes). At a push you can use stretch-over spike-sets, but they're not as good to run in.
    • find out if there are any lit tracks or stadiums in the neighbourhood and use those for some sessions like intervals
    • there's no shame in walking a tricky bit - in the dark, no-one can see you image
  • ooh just stumbled across this thread - just what I was lookign for image have a loony dog who needs to be let off the lead twice a day or he's too mental in the house, but only place can let him off is an unlit country park. don't have time to run and walk dog separately, so was wondering how I'd manage in the dark. MW have some £15 head torches as Limper says, and they're buy one get one free at the mo - very handy as I'm a vet so will stick the free one in the car for those middle of the night moments in a field where a light comes in handy!!!!

     and for the girls they're selling a really cute little pink maglite for breast cancer care too. bought that for the mornings I'm walking not running.

     just hope stuff will actually come soon with the postal strike

  • I have a nice 1 mile circuit just outside, well lit and I run with the traffic so as not to get blinded by oncoming cars, no head gear required and tjere's a good grass verge, so no problems with other pedestrians.


  • I have 3 dogs and I put head torhes around there necks. It looks like low flying space ships when we are out in the fells at night. Mayo torches are the best.
  • What's a Mayo torch, Sleepless?
  • A Mayo is a Petzel myo XP head torch. - good enough to eat.

    I ment to say Myo not Mayo.

    Loads of Fellrunners use them and I have been MTBiking in the forest and have spoken to a few fellow bikers who use them for night riding.

  • It's annoying when the dark nights come in , those brilliant down the canal runs through woods and round fileds all go in favour of running on footpaths along the roads. I couldn't use a head torch safely and get a decent run in - it's the streets for my one week night run . Sunday mornings will still be OK but the weather usually is awful ( it having been OK Sat / Sun afternoon!!)
  • Ah, thankyou Sleepless. I actually have one one them, the Myobelt XP belt battery-pack version.

    Haven't used it since last yr so forgot what it is called. I quite liked it except it's a bit of a faff to thread the power cord down the back of my shirt, along with iPod cable. Plus I find it hard to find the switches with gloved hands. Wondered if you had comments on the headmounted battery-pack version?

     Mike, I don't see what the safety problem is. The above lamps have a switchable diffusor between spot and flood, for example, if you're worried about falling in the canal image

  • I know what you mean Steve, I feel like a robotic runner sometimes, Ipod, light cable, (sometimes the Sunnto T3 GPS arm strap- sometime just the forerunner) heart rate strap, mobile phone on longer routes strapped to the other arm, dog leads, argh!!

    The headtorch mounted battery pack- is the small baby myo version. it is supposed to be great. some folk say it is abit heavy. But I sometimes run with 2 head torches on the front and a rear back light from my MTB on the back of my head.


    I also find putting head torches around my 3 dogs necks helps light up the path and I get to see where the path is in advance-

    Team work.

  • Steve, you run off-road, in the dark and in ice and snow?

    I tip my hat to you, Sir, you are either very brave or totally nuts image

  • Steve do you use spikeshoes or those tie on snow chains?
  • Sleepless, I don't have a spare dog to take, otherwise that tip about lighted collars could have ben usefulimage

    Harry, those're just the conditions in winter here, it's not a problem really. Fluffy snow of more than a few inches is the only problem until you have a path where enough people have trampled it down. It's rarely like that where I live, just ice and compacted thin snow layers usually.

    Sleepless I usually use spike shoes called Ice Bugs, IIRC, but there also exist some stretchy rubber things to pull over a shoe which have a few studs under. They are not as good because they can slip around a bit due to running impacts. They are really intended to keep pedestrians safe on the pavements. But both ways make running even on sloping slick ice perfectly possible and reasonably secure.

    Either way, a directed light doesn't always show up ice on a smooth rock very well, so I like a lamp with some waste light all round. IIRC last winter I found the Myo adequate and a fair compromise on trails I already knew quite well. One can always use a bigger better lamp but then there's the battery weight and remembering to recharge all the time. If there were an even brighter diode light like the Myo but still with a decent battery life I'd be interested in that. The orienteers round here tend to go for much brighter with short battery life, like a Silva, but that's not quite the thing we need IMHO.

  • Sleepless your dogs sound better running companions than mine. He has a flashing red collar so I can see him (he's black and vanishes in the woods!) but he wouldn't light the path for me with a torch, maybe the bottom of the stream, the woods, behind me, 50m off to the side of me... he's a nutter, I'd get dizzy trying to follow any light he had. but we're having fun with me running with the head torch, and him doing his own thing, and catching up when he wants a biscuit!

     He was very unimpressed by fireworks tonight. so think while he's liable to bolt we'll have to keep our in the dark running to mornings for a few weeks

  • Just returned from the Gower and collected my dogs from the kennels.

    took them out in the rain with torches on and they loved it more than me!! mental.

  • Since the clocks shifted it is a lot darker plus I went for a late run, so I got chance to use the Petzl Myo again. It was quite sufficient for trail running, so long as I was careful over roots, rocks, etc. It was bright enough to show puddles and mud starting to ice over - it was -1C here yesterday evening.

    There is a little diode indicator on top of the Myo that changes status as the batteries start to die. Also during the run, the headlight briefly flashed a blinking code  to warn me the batteries were on the way out. Even so, I still had no problem running home for another half-hour (with ordinary carbon batteries).It is bright now with fresh NiMH batteries of 2700 mAH capacity but I don't expect to have such a long grace period with these when they run down due to their discharge characteristic.

    I saw one then two sets of glowing eyes while out - clapped my hands and made a noise, since I watched a horror film featuring a dog with red eyes the night before - was embarrassed to find it was a chap crouching down holding his dogs by the side of the trail image I was glad to get off that bit and onto the lit ski-trail, but OTOH there were a lot more people with dogs and those darned long leads there! 

    • This is one way to smash your PB, Zombies chasing you, well its your friends dressed as Zombies chasing you around a 8K forrest course in Scotland. This looks awesome ......

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