9 Safety Tips for Running in the Dark

3 women running as it is getting dark outside

With summer coming in at full swing, the days are continuing to grow hotter. While this is completely awesome (because cold weather sucks, am I right?!?!), it also means that running during the day may not be an option. Or maybe running under the moonlight is the only time that fits into your schedule, regardless of the time of year. Whatever the case, running in the dark comes with its own set of risks.

If you’re like me, the thought of running alone in the dark makes your skin crawl. I mean, there’s all kinds of things just lurking in the shadows, waiting to jump out like in some kind of horror movie. And I would be the dumb-dumb that would run into a corner, trapping myself. Yes, in a horror movie, I would be the first to go.

 I’ll admit, I am a little on the cautious side. I’m always looking over my shoulder anyway, aware of my surroundings. But when you’re out running in the dark, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

While running in the dark may not be your first choice, it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it seems once you get used to it. With these tips, you can run in the dark safely and feel a little more confident.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


This is a good idea anyway, but especially important when it is dark outside with fewer people out and about. Always let somebody know you plan to run and when you expect to be back. There are also phone apps where somebody you trust can track you along your route. If you don’t return when you plan to, somebody will know to try and contact you or at least know where to look.

I always tell my husband where I am going and how long I think my run will take. If I decide to add a few extra miles, I have my phone with me so I can shoot him a text. If I am more than about 10-15 minutes later than I said, he sends me a message to make sure I’m ok.

On that note, always have your phone and a form of ID/emergency contact with you. Another reason this is important is that if you happen to get injured, you’ll be able to call for help. If you are unable to call for help, the ID and emergency contact will help to know who you are and who to contact. This FlipBelt is amazing for carrying all of your phone, ID, keys, and any other small items that you want to have with you. I got one when I started doing races and it literally holds everything I need to have on me.


Yeah, yeah…I know. The person in the photo is running right smack down the center of the road. Don’t do that. Especially on a busy road. The game Frogger comes to mind. Does anyone here remember Frogger?

Back on point, by running against traffic, you will be able to see vehicles that are coming towards you. This will allow you to get out of the way of potential danger and distracted drivers if need be. Yes, I’m talking about the drivers with their faces glued to their phones. Am I the only one that this frustrates?

If you must cross an intersection, always make sure that no cars are coming before proceeding. When it is dark outside, drivers may be unable to see you or stop on time if you come from out of nowhere.

I always try to run on sidewalks if I can help it. I’m super awkward on the road. Picture a squirrel or a deer. That’s me. When a car is coming, I don’t know what to do or where to go. So what do I do? I stop and stare and pace around until it passes. Not. Cute.

Woman running down deserted road.
Photo by Laura Ghise on Unsplash


If you can, change up your route and the time that you run. Being predictable in your routine makes you more of a target to creeps who may be watching and waiting. By changing up your routine, nobody will be expecting you at a particular place at a specific time. The last thing you want is for the wrong person to learn where you will be, and alone in the dark at that. This is a recipe for disaster. Try to have 2-3 different routes that you use, and vary the time of day you use them. Even if it’s just by an hour, it’s enough that you won’t be expected.


By choosing a well-lit route, not only can you see better, but you’re more likely to be seen. Try to run on roads or sidewalks with plenty of street lights or house lights that are turned on. Avoid trails or desolate areas in the dark. Poor lighting means a higher chance of injury. Plus, there will be nobody around if something were to happen, injury or otherwise.

Make sure that your route is in a well-populated area where there are plenty of people around. Safety comes in numbers. You are less likely to be targeted if there are others nearby. It’s always best to play it safe.   


If you’re like me, music is what keeps you motivated to keep going. The louder, the better, right? But loud music poses its own risks. For one, you are less likely to be aware of what is going on around you. You won’t be able to hear traffic as well or if a person or animal comes up behind you. Your best bet is to leave the music at home so that you are completely alert. But if you must bring your tunes with you, turn the volume down. By keeping the volume low, you’ll be able to hear your surroundings better. Consider running with only one earbud in as a compromise.


Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Nowadays, there are so many options for what you can carry to help make you feel safe. There’s pepper spray, compact alarms, stun guns, and pocket knives. These items are all relatively inexpensive, coming in around $10 each. Some women I’ve talked to even have a concealed carry permit. The important thing is to have something with you to give you a sense of security should you need to use it. Bring whatever makes you feel comfortable. This will be different for everybody.

I have one of the compact alarms hooked to my purse for when I am out and about. As I was unloading groceries one day, my hand accidentally got tangled in the wrist loop and pulled the pin out of the device. That sucker is LOUD! My ears were ringing and people around the neighborhood were staring.

Disclaimer: Be sure to check on your state laws before deciding on your form of protection. Should you ever need to use it, you don’t want your particular item to be illegal in your area.


There is definitely truth to the saying that safety comes in numbers. When running in the dark, this is especially true. If you are able, find a friend to go on your run with you. If you can’t find a friend, look into running groups in your area. A lot of cities have running groups that meet up several times per week. A few places to find these groups are on Facebook or at your local running store. You’d be surprised at how many people also run early in the morning or late at night. You never know who may be waiting for a running buddy.

Two men running at dusk.


When running in the dark, you want to make sure you wear the right gear. Avoid wearing all black or dark clothing. You’d be amazed at how many people I see running in the dark wearing all black. Like, for real? Dark clothing makes it nearly impossible for someone to see you until they are right upon you.

Instead, opt for light or bright colors. Look into reflective items or blinking lights that grab attention. You can also wear a lighted vest or headlamp that will make it easier for you to be seen. Those blinking lights may be what pulls that distracted driver away from their phone!


Do you ever just get an uneasy feeling from out of nowhere? Like something just isn’t right? If your gut instinct is telling you something feels off, trust that instinct. It could just be over-caution; however, it very well could be right. I am the queen of feeling anxious in situations, but I’d like to think it has saved my life a time or two.  

If you see a car or a person that just makes your skin crawl, change your direction. Don’t hesitate to contact the police either if need be. I cannot say enough that it is better to be safe than sorry.

Photo by Peter Kalonji on Unsplash


Despite how it may sound, these tips are not meant to freak you out and put you off from getting out there. There are many ways in which you can feel and stay safe while running in the dark. If you still feel uneasy, though, consider some alternatives. If the early morning or late night is the only time that fits your schedule, look into a gym membership so you can use a treadmill. There are several gyms that have a monthly fee of $10, with no commitment. Yes, it is true. There are gyms out there where you aren’t signing your life away when you sign up!

If the heat is what is factoring in your decision to run in the dark, check out these tips for Running in the Summer Heat.

Whenever you decide to get your run in, always remember to stay safe, have fun, and get that sweat on!

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  • Reply
    July 1, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    I love running at night because it doesn’t get too hot so I will definitely take this tops into consideration before I do my run!

    • Reply
      Ashley Kosky
      July 14, 2020 at 12:52 pm

      The cooler temperatures is definitely a plus for night running. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2020 at 9:17 pm

    I have tried running in low light but inside our village. So, it’s basically safer than going on a busy road. Thanks for sharing this. I might just run with my daughter at the park this evening.

    • Reply
      Ashley Kosky
      July 14, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      That’s great that you have a place that you can run in low light where it feels safe! If you ended up going to the park with your daughter, hopefully you had a good run! Thanks for visiting!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2020 at 9:30 am

    This is SUCH great advice. I’m in college and love to go on runs early in the morning before my classes, but I’m always nervous to run in the dark. So these are great tips — thank you for sharing! ❤️

    • Reply
      Ashley Kosky
      July 14, 2020 at 12:49 pm

      I totally get getting a run in before classes start for the day! I love getting my workout in before starting work. It gets it out of the way and you start the day feeling accomplished! Stay safe and thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Charlotte Birchall
    July 9, 2020 at 10:15 am

    This is a great post. Thank you for posting. I have never run in the dark before but this has some tips that I will start using.

    • Reply
      Ashley Kosky
      July 14, 2020 at 12:48 pm

      A lot of them are definitely tips that can be used any time of day. Safety at any time is so important! Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Cindy Baker
    July 9, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Good advice. I live in Memphis where it is hot and humid, so maybe I should start running earlier. Thanks for the tips!

    • Reply
      Ashley Kosky
      July 14, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      I understand hot and humid! I live in Charlotte, and we’ve had some HOT days here lately. I’ve been doing a lot more walks. Thanks for visiting!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Great post… I would definitely suggest running with a friend at night and varying your route. Aside from the alarm, not sure I would feel good about carrying weapons on a run though (not allowed in Canada!), IMH. I like running in the evening best, as I am not a morning person… lol… and your suggestions are definitely worth considering!

    • Reply
      Ashley Kosky
      July 14, 2020 at 12:46 pm

      I am not much of a morning person, either! Unless I have a GOOD reason to get up before 8AM, I refuse! lol. Running with a friend is definitely the best option, if it is one. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    This is some great advice! As a runner, running in the dark is always a concern. It can be super challenging to schedule my day such that I can run in the daylight. Being prepared is a huge part of running, and I like how you gave practical and tangible advice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Reply
      Ashley Kosky
      July 14, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      I understand completely how schedules can get in the way of when you would LIKE to run! It’s especially challenging during the months when there are only about 8 hours of sunlight! haha. I agree, running in the dark definitely is cause for concern. Stay safe and thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Kathy Toner
    July 9, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    I used to go walking early in the morning with the low light, sunrise and it felt pretty good. Never walked or ran at night, I do like the tips you gave maybe I will give it a whirl.


    • Reply
      Ashley Kosky
      July 14, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Early morning walks are great and so peaceful! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Ayleen French
    July 11, 2020 at 10:40 am

    This is awesome tips! Worth trying!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement and comprehensive tips! I also have a compact alarm and it works for people and animals :). I would recommend it since there is minimal risk of harming yourself and does not count as a concealed weapon.

    • Reply
      Ashley Kosky
      July 14, 2020 at 12:40 pm

      Very true about it not counting as a concealed weapon! I didn’t think about it being good for startling animals too. Thanks for reading!

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