Safe routes when running in the dark

MsEMsE ✭✭✭
I am marathon training and finding that the best time for me to fit in my weekly LSR is early in the morning when it is still dark. I live in West London and have a couple of routes, one along the Thames towpaths and another into Richmond Park, that I have been using. I often don't see any other runners and, at most one or two. I recently started running with a head torch which helps me see where I am going but probably would offer little (well, no) protection against attack. What do most people do in this situation? I do not want to have to run long distances on lit pavements as I find the soft trails are quite important to my ability to absorb the longer runs. Thanks for any advice.


  • I sometimes run in the lanes around us using a headtorch and sometimes even my runs around the town go through dark areas.  TBH the idea of being attacked doesn't bother me.  We did have a flasher here in the autumn but that was in broad daylight so I find it hard to see how the darkness makes it worse.  I do vary the days on which I do the country routes but think most stanger assaults are opportunistic and so you can't plan to avoid them if you see what I mean.
  • Hi,

    Don't have any useful advice apart from find a buddy or running group?  Might be hard when your training times are limited!!

    I understand how you feel, I am petrified of running alone!  Unfortunately, my running has really suffered!!!

  • MsE depending on where exactly you're based it may be easier to cross onto the north side of the river rather than the south, most of that from Putney bridge to just past Kew Bridge is streetlit, failing that I've found Richmond Park completely safe, the Tamsin trail is my preferred route and I've never had any issues there.
  • Curly45Curly45 ✭✭✭

    I'm another in the just do it category... I run alone at night in a very central london park. The chances of attack are actually very small, especially in the winter when no one is going to stand around for hours in the cold on the off chance you might come by.

    I found the morning better but dont have time for it anymore (less chavs walking their monster dogs). If you are worried vary your routes on different days/weeks and make sure you never run to exhaustion (so you can run away if necessary). There's also Old Deer Park round that way if you fancy laps of a few fields as its on the main road perhaps a bit better lit?

  • MsEMsE ✭✭✭
    Thanks for your responses. I sort of agree, Curly, and while the towpath feels safer as it is closer to lit areas and pavements I came to the conclusion that it would have to be a very dedicated weirdo who lurked in the bushes in Richmond Park waiting on the off chance a runner suitable for attacking might go past. I hadn't thought of The Old Deer Park but may use it to vary my route.

    LIrish - thanks for the suggestion about the northside of the Thames which is what I tend to do! Sounds as if we use the same routes?

  • I think the secret is just to run where you feel safe, and for me I don't feel there's that much distinction between day and night. I do most of my nigh time running in a park which is reasonably well lit and in an area I know well, it's probably quieter than the roads but that's what I like.
  • Mse we do indeed sound like we use the same routes, I tend to run with my club along the towpaths and on my own in Richmond Park, there's some really good trails if you go off road through the centre of the park rather than on the outer paths. Failing that you could do the towpath on the north side of the river from Putney to richmond, cross Richmond bridge then head up the steep hill by the Star and Garter into the Park and do a lap of that
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