Running in the dark - help with practicalities

I have purchased my Alpkit Gamma to get me out on the trail during the early hours.  So far, though, I haven't used it as I have been able to delay my start until it is just light enough to see.  I'm bottling it a bit image... and this is down to the recent weather and the practicalities of how I'm going to use the torch.

I wear specs.  I have to wear specs - it's not an optional choice for me if I expect to survive the run.  For this reason I often wear a peaked running cap.  In the absence of mini-windscreen-wipers fitted to the lenses, I need something to keep the rain off as much as possible.  I don't cope well with multiple images, otherwise I'd have been born a fly.

So, does anybody have any suggestions of how best to wear the head torch (keep it clean, please)?  If I try under the cap, then it probably wouldn't take much wind to blow the cap off.  Over the cap and the peak gets in the way rendering said headtorch moribund.

As my runs increase in distance, I can't avoid the dark for much longer.

Please take pity and provide me with a brilliant, effective solution.  And don't say "use a treadmill" image


  • oiyouoiyou ✭✭✭

    Get a cap, something like this, rigid enough to use cable ties to attach the lamp high enough on your head to shine over the peak. That company seem to do a range of bump-cap that look somewhat like simple baseball caps - or close enough in the dark anyway.

    Or, adapt a rucksack strap to mount the lamp on your chest or shoulder.

    Or, carry a hand-torch - as well or instead as the alpkit. There are plenty available with very high light output.


  • I also have problems with specs and rain at night. I have had a breakthrough recently using a product called rainX on the lenses. It doesn't keep them rain free but you can see fine as the blodges bead into smaller blodges. I also use a peak with the headtorch on the top, I've found with experimentation you can pull the peak down low and wear the torch up high and angled down and all is good.

    Merry xmas

  • I always wear a headtorch and peaked running cap.i just put the headlamp above the peak and then just can usually change the angle....

  • oiyouoiyou ✭✭✭

    ah yes, rainx, used to use that on my car many years ago. Does it help in drizzle though? I found it better the heavier the rain.

    Drizzle is about the worst to deal with, I think - a peaked cap doesn't really help and I might as well be looking into a kaleidoscope as glasses.

  • I find the only way I can bear a headtorch is over the rigid peak of a cap, if the lens part sits on the peak it keeps it more fixed. Also it may not be of help but I went and bought a decent enough headtorch, as it was mandatory kit on a long run, but previously I used a £2.99 Multi-Led small hand torch from Asda, and the Asda one is better.

  • Thanks everyone.  I must confess I can't see how you all manage with the torch on top of the peak of the cap image  Do you mean you keep the beam facing straight ahead, rather than angled at the ground?  And is it the only torch you use while running (or do you simultaneously use a second torch)?

    Rainx - hmm, interesting idea.  Could you tell me which specific product you use - I found several (spray, wipes)?  Also, is it safe to use on plastic lenses?

  • I don't get on with headtorches; after 20 minutes of wearing one they really annoy me.  The last time I wore one it was raining, and I couldn't see much due to the light bouncing off the rain drops, so turned it off, and all I could see was a bright white circle of an after image till my nightsight sorted itself out.

    I now just use a small powerful hand torch; it's easier on my eyes.  Check out ultrafire torches on e-bay; they're cheap and work for me.

  • I occasionally wear a headtorch around my waist.... Works very well, especially in heavy rain or snow.
  • Tenjiso- just go for it. Only you will be able to find out how well you're coping with the headtorch. And it might not be raining. Possibly.
  • It always rains when I run cougie image

    I will go for it.

    Eventually image

  • Have you tried contacts recently? There are some really good daily disposables out there. I put them in just before my run and bin them after. Now I don't need to worry about behind ear headphones, rain, sunglasses in the summer or them slipping down my face with sweat.
  • yea check out daysoft lenses there about a tenner for 30 pairs.Its supposed to be a pair a day for a month but i only wear them if it  looks like rain so 1 box lasts about 3 months.

  • I wore contact lenses many years ago, and in the end (after several years) gave up with them.  Nowadays, opticians always say to me "you used to wear contacts didn't you?" because they can see micro-damage to the blood vessels.  I know the modern lenses are superior, but haven't taken a chance.  I quite like your idea of using them infrequently.  Currently though, 30 pairs would last 30 days image (i.e. it always looks like rain!)

    I think I'm going to head out early tomorrow with the head torch.  It's just a four mile recovery run, and so should be ideal for a bit of experimentation.  No doubt it will rain, again image

  • As a slight aside. I used to wear contacts lenses years ago. I also had numerous problems and stopped. 2 years ago I went back to daily lenses, they are so soft it is unreal. Approx 18 months ago I changed to 30 day lenses, absolutely brilliant. Put them in and you sleep with them in, 30 days later take them out and put in a new pair.

    I don't use a head torch when I run. Hope this helps.

  • Thanks.  It's certainly food for thought (though it won't stop me running into trees at night image).

    Next time I go to the opticians I might ask if they do a trial.

  • Ten: I have my head torch on with a peaked cap, Works ok for me to be honest. The only really issue is when it really is raining, I can't see because of light shining off the drops, that and fog. You could pull the peak down a long way and then try the torch as far up your head as you can get it.

  • Right.... I'm going to go for it tomorrow image

    Thanks all - I'll let you know how I get on.

  • I'm up.  It's dark.  It's raining.  

  • At the risk of mixing my metaphors, today was the day I decided to grow some balls and pop my cherry. In other words, go for my first trail run in the dark.  Given the subtitle of this thread, I picked perfect conditions. It was dark, of course, and raining (err... of course), and much windier than I had been expecting (forecast was 11mph wind, but this felt more like 20mph+ in exposed areas).

    I set out at 5:45am for my recovery run. The first mile was along roads that were well lit with street lamps. This gave me a chance to adjust the headlamp and get used to switching the settings before the light would be essential. I wore it over the top of my running cap, and it felt much more comfortable than I had been expecting. I had the rear red light flashing and the low front-light setting, just so drivers would see me.

    Just as I approached the trail I switched to the main front beam. As I entered the pitch-black trail, the rain looked like I was running through a swarm of gnats. I had hardly been aware of it, but now it became my main focus as I became accustomed to this new experience.

    The trail was lit well enough to feel confident about running ahead. This first part was dirt track in a “valley” between two large man made slopes. This felt surreal! I could see the track moving beneath me, but I really didn't feel like I was moving forward! It was a strange and fascinating experience, and felt almost as if I was running on a treadmill. If it wasn't for the odd fallen branch lying by the trail, I would have had very little indication that I was going anywhere. Further down, I made my way into a wooded area and the sensation of speed felt more natural as I could see the trees moving past.

    After a mile, I turned around and made my way back. The headwind was now very strong, so I had the perfect conditions for my test run. It was nowhere near as bad as I had expected and the entire run was really pretty comfortable. In fact, it was an enjoyable experience. Though I should probably qualify that statement with open disclosure.... my wife thinks I'm totally nuts doing this.

    I think I'm going to try with two torches in future. Perhaps another one strapped to the chest or around the waist. I had a tendency to be running with my head bowed in order to see the ground nearer to my feet (otherwise the peak of the cap gets in the way). A second torch could be focused on the more immediate ground, allowing me to keep my head up and light the way ahead. Also, it would make it easier to quickly glance at my Garmin. I've also seen it mentioned that a second light source helps give the scenery more depth. Perhaps this might help alleviate the sensation of going nowhere?

    This was a short test run with new batteries. If I was going for any length of time, I think two torches and a spare set of batteries would be prudent, given that it is pitch black along the trail.

    To all ultra runners who run overnight along trails...... respect!

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