Running in the winter... and in unknown territory

Hello everyone,

A year ago I moved out of London to a smaller town and went from a strong runner (14miles were my long runs on a Sunday afternoon) who ran half marathons and 10ks... to a couch potato.

Moving out of London meant that when I would try and go running, I would usually stumble across national speed limit roads, roads with no lighting (so I'd be near breaking my ankles at night running along grass verges) or end up in dodgy parts of town. I gradually let my running slip and now it's a year later and I can barely manage 3 miles without stopping! I used to love exploring town, feeling safe and letting my feet guide the way. Now I just can't relax into runs and don't enjoy them.

I need advice on running in the dark: is it silly to wear a head torch? I'm worried about my safety too -my diary doesn't permit me to join running clubs because it changes so frequently so I'm worried about running alone through streets unknown..

Apart from getting a dog to keep me safe on my runs (which I am seriously considering!), does anyone have any ideas? Has anyone found that new places put them off running? I've done the obvious; planned routes around town which are lit -but not all parts of town are safe!



  • I think you need to clarify what you are asking.

  • Whether a. anyone has found in new places their running suffer and b. (most importantly), how everyone manages running in the pitch black in the country / towns that are smaller so there arent roads to run on.

  • We manage. It's what we're used to. Don't forget those long summer months (well just imagine them for a moment) when you can run out on the hills til late.

    6 months of the year it's light enough to run out in the countryside in the evenings, at the weekends or whatever day you get off. I work a haphazard shift pattern so I sometimes run to and from work, that can be a 25 mile round trip. Luckily I work 12 or 18 hr shifts.

    So - running with a head torch is sensible, also hiviz clothing with reflective strips. There are other lights that help you see and be seen, you can always carry a small torch as well.

    Of course you have to run slower and take more precautions when running at night but nothing should get in your way of doing so. Find routes that are safer - tracks and trails and green lanes or similar. There must be something around.

    Buy a map or use google maps, have a look at BikeHike for the potential of safer local routes or get on your bike and go somewhere else to run. I cycle out to my runs all the time.

    Have a look at the stupid o'clock thread.

  • Head torch - if you can't see where you're running - why wouldn't you wear one ?

    (alpkit gamma will do you - there's a led on the back too)

    As for safety - are you over thinking this ? Not many people are out at night and its well known that axe murderers get bored waiting in bushes just in case someone runs past.

    Why aren't parts of town safe ? Minefields or quicksand ?
  • Why discount joing a local running club? A bit obessed with the diary me thinks! There will be a trainning night you can go along to and run with others and maybe make a few running buddies to run with at other times?

  • Where have you moved to - Darfur?

  • Ha! No not Darfur. Flitwick way -which is a teeny tiny little town. I nearly broke my neck last year because I had to run in the dark and tripped on a paving slab! I've never seen runners wearing head torches, so I thought I'd look like a lost miner! I've ordered one online and will give it a go! And the dodgy parts are dodgy -I've been egged before, had bottles of water thrown at me .. FULL bottles of water, might I add just walking down the street and the motto is 'if it's not chained down, it won't be there in the morning'. Great.

    Thanks so much for your suggestions about running to work. I work an hour's drive away so there's no chance of running to work -and lots of the A6 doesn't have paths! Honestly. I've driven in and been dead set on finding a running route along there because it passes the Chilterns and it looks gorgeous!

    I think the local running club is Bedford (another 30min drive North) so will do a bit of research.

    Thanks so much for your suggestions. 

  • I've been to Flitwick, there's a lot worse places to live!
  • Go for a decent long run on your day off during daylight so that you become confident of the same routes in darkness.
    Headtorch is definitely sensible, both to see with and seen by. I also wear a couple of lights on the side of my arm and leg nearest the traffic. I'm surprised no light aircraft have tried to land next to me in the dark yet!

  • Just a thought about your over-long  commut-if theres some where with a car park about 7 miles from work- can you park there , run in, and reverse the process in the evening?- you just need a shower and change of clothes dropped off at work the day before. I do it when it gets too wintry to tackle the full distance to work, which has a "dodgy" bit I won't do in pitch black.

  • Where I run the dodgiest person is me!

  • I knew there was a club there... Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers...I just googled them, I have some friends who used to live in Leighton Buzzard I heard them talking about it one day.

    Seriously, you have to take a bit of flak if you run round an estate or through a town centre. The outcome depends a lot on how YOU react. It's a fine line between looking like a victim so they think they can scare you and looking like you're up for a fight you just have to find it.
  • To avoid the flack/bottles abuse = I run at 5:45am there are not many of the local thugs up and about at that time!!!  The dark thing is an issue - where there are no streetlights - I slow down - where there is street lighting I run in the road which tends to be less potholed than the pavements and try to hit it hard

  • I'd move somewhere nicer ! I spent the first 10 years of my running career on the roads in Coventry
  • Are you serious suggesting he move to Coventry? image

  • I never had any aggro running in Coventry ! But I suggest he moves somewhere even nicer
  • Flitwick sounds lovely image

    I'd prescribe a dose of manning up with a drop of trying to look a little meaner and more uncomprimising.

    If someone chucked a full bottle of water at me, i'd stop, take a big gulp, belch and then lob at right back at the little darlings with vim and relish  Then i'd just carry on running...a tad quicker than before mindimage

  • Thanks for the tip on the alpkit torch. What is it like to run with? I have been thinking about getting one as am restricted to my laps on winter nights.

  • Its great - you can run in pitch black with it. If its cold though - dont breathe into the beam as you'll blind yourself. 

  • Dave The Ex- Spartan wrote (see)
    I never had any aggro running in Coventry ! But I suggest he moves somewhere even nicer

    Somewhere even nicer than Coventry? Shirley not possible!



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