UNC Health Care
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Running in the Dark

Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garn
Rodney Jenkins

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system.

Runner running at night
Runner running at night

A couple of nights ago, my wife Angie and I were driving home from a local restaurant after a late workout at the gym. We were caught up in our conversation so as we pulled into the neighborhood, two of our neighbors, Patty and Chastity, seemed to suddenly appear out of nowhere. I literally swerved to avoid hitting them.

Patty and I talked later that evening and as it turns out, we were all a bit shaken up. Our conversation had a double purpose. First of all, I wanted to apologize and secondly, I was curious about what they were wearing. Patty told me she was wearing a light colored jacket so she thought she was visible to oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, she was not. It made me wonder how many of us go out onto dark roads without reflective clothing or a light to walk, run or walk our pets.

Like most runners/walkers or pet owners, Angie and I frequently run in morning or evening darkness because we simply do not have a choice. In the summer, we want to beat the heat and in the winter, there is so little evening sunlight that we have little choice other than the dreadmill, that is treadmill. So I decided to do some research to find out what runners and walkers can use to make themselves more visible to traffic. Here is a small list of items to consider:

  1. Woman rinning at dusk
    Be seen at night!

    Headlamps: The key is to find one that is comfortable and also allows you to adjust the angle of the light. We own several and never run in darkness without one.

  2. Glowing armbands: I wrap mine around my upper arm to increase my visibility to traffic in front of me as well as behind me.
  3. Glow Gloves: We have some that have an LED light in the knuckle area. They do not project much light but they do increase your visibility to vehicular traffic.
  4. reflective vest
    reflective vest

    Reflective vest, caps and clothing: We always wear reflective ankle bands. A vest is great for walking but I do not care to run in them. I find them a bit too bulky.

  5. Knuckle lights: They are so comfortable that it is easy to forget they are on your hands. An added bonus is that you can direct light in any direction.
  6. Light belts: I do not own one but I want one. You can adjust the angle and intensity of the front light and there is a red flashing LED in the back.
  7. reflective silver running shoes
    Reflective shoes

    Reflective shoes: Make sure your shoes have reflectors on them, and you can add additional reflectors or light sources to your running shoes as well. Sketchers makes a glow shoe that is activated by a light source. I have not seen them but there are plenty of online reviews.

The list goes on and on. So, if you are like me and frequently run in the dark, do yourselves a favor and find a way to make yourself more visible to traffic. Your life could depend on it.