Why don’t you look where you’re driving?!

This is a Public Service Announcement from the Bearded Runner: When you drive, just DRIVE! stop fiddling with your radio or whatever the hell it is that you do when you drive, and just DRIVE!!!

Thank you!

I rise early in the morning, 5AM on most days to tie on my running shoes and start my day with some semblance of balance.

I look forward to my morning run and the solitude which I am allowed

Every year there are a gagillion websites (I’m probably being conservative with this number) that remind the runner of the dangers of running when it’s dark.

I run with a headlamp, blinking light on the back of my head and more reflective gear than I can fit anywhere on my body. I light up like a Christmas tree when headlights hit me. Yes, I said “Christmas tree.” There’s no such thing as a “holiday tree” so if you’re looking for any type of political correctness, stop reading and find another website!

Yet there’s always at least one driver who comes pretty damn close to me. I’m pretty sure that many drivers enjoy playing chicken with me when they see me out for a run. I think they arrive wherever they have decided to go and gather around the water cooler to joke about how close they’ve come to hitting me. When a driver gets that close to me, I enjoy pointing my Petzl light, set to the brightest setting directly into the eyes of the offending driver. If you’re especially lucky, I’ll flip you off and throw a couple of choice words your way to help brighten your day.

I’ve added a little video about “Running in the Dark”

There is no way the driver of the car this morning didn’t see me with the accouterment of reflective gear I was wearing. I’m just saying…put your phone down, stop fiddling with your radio or whatever the hell it is that you do when you drive, and just DRIVE!!!

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In Praise of Running in the Dark

I am usually an early-bird runner. I (very grudgingly and groggily) get up and pound out a run as the sun rises so I don’t have to worry about fitting it for the rest of the day. But there are times when, um, my alarm “malfunctions” or my schedule just doesn’t allow for five miles at 5:30 a.m. When that happens, I used to just take a raincheck for the following day.

But recently, I ran nearly nine miles at 12:30 a.m. in a Ragnar Relay, and was reminded of how simultaneously peaceful and stimulating running at night can be. The motion is familiar, but everything else feels fundamentally different—even if I’m running my most tried-and-true route.

As I head out into the dark, my senses go into overdrive. It’s not just my eyes leading the way anymore. I smell things—hopefully scents like pine needles or a lasagna baking in my neighbor’s oven—more intensely. Even on busy streets, my ears rotate between three sounds: the in-and-out of my breath, the rhythm of my feet, and an overwhelming, lovely slice of quiet. I run through pockets of warm and cold air, which I rarely notice when I’m checking my GPS multiple times a mile. My eyes adjust more easily to the dark blanket than I would anticipate when I’m debating a run in the warmth of my kitchen, and, once I’ve been out there for a few minutes, the blackness turns to shades of gray. (I promise, it always seems darker from the inside than when you’re actually in it.)

Most of all, the darkness allows me to tune in, not out. It releases me of most expectations, and I’m free to just experience the run, step by step. Chasing the spotlight from my headlamp forces me to be exactly present, a perspective that can be so difficult to attain when running in daylight. Calculating remaining mileage or fixating on pace feels almost superficial. Instead, I naturally concentrate on the cool air on my skin, the stars—or if I’m lucky, the full moon—above, and the sensation that I’m supremely, deliciously alive.

When the sun goes down, good things can happen. But bad things can too, unfortunately, so here are a few nighttime running safety tips:

—Light yourself with a headlamp, reflective apparel, blinking lights, and hits of reflectivity on your clothes from a range of angles and positions: front, back, sides, upper body, lower body. Cars won’t be expecting you, so alert them brightly and in multiple ways of your presence.

—Reflective hits are easiest seen on moving parts like your arms, hands, legs and feet. Saucony’s line of Men’s hats & gloves and Women’s hats & gloves is built with reflectivity in mind.

—It’s a cliché for a reason: there is safety in numbers. Recruit a buddy—either the two- or four-legged type—to run with you.

—Go on the defense: run against traffic, behind cars at intersections, and avoid areas that might not be super safe.

—Tell or text somebody your route, and when you expect to be back.

—Carry your phone, and if you must listen to music, keep the volume low and use only one earbud.

—Pay careful attention to footing. Curbs and cracks can be harder to navigate at night; slow down if need be.

Next time you’re bemoaning the fact that your crazy day didn’t allow you to squeeze in your planned lunchtime session, don’t settle onto the couch and into a bag of chips for the night. Gear up and head out; I promise, a run like no other awaits.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

DIMITY MCDOWELL

Contributor Dimity McDowell Davis is the co-founder of Another Mother Runner, and the coauthor of Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity and Train Like a Mother: How to Cross Any Finish Line and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity. (Sarah Bowen Shea is her partner in mother running crime.) Cross paths withAnother Mother Runner on Twitter, on Facebook or on their weekly podcasts on iTunes.

Twitter @dimityontherunDimity’s Website

Running in darkness

My alarm gently prods me awake. It is time to rise. It is 4:30 in the morning. I reach for my glasses and glance toward window knowing it is still dark. 

The darkness comes with the coming of Fall and is upon us with apparent disregard for the enjoyment of the long days of summer. It too is inevitable. 

I groggily walk toward the basement and change into my running gear. Shorts…check. Running shoes…check. Running tights…check. Gloves…check. Garmin…check. Hat…check. Balaclava…check. Headlamp…check. Headlamp?! In an effort to run safely I don my headlamp. It is important to see and to be seen. As I run through intersections I am inevitably asked “Why don’t I run on a treadmill?” The dreaded treadmill or “dread mill” as I has become known to me will only be used when it is too cold, too icey to run outside.

I enjoy running in the dark. I enjoy the anonymity, the silence and the solitude. My running routes too take on a new flavor.

I step outside and it is eerily silent. It is a silence similar to that found early in the morning when the day has already begun to be lighted by the sun. The eeriness arrives with the darkness and does not seem to lift until the sun makes its first appearance of the day.

I take my first steps and head toward the corner. My route lit by the constant glow of the overhead streetlights. My headlamp is not yet needed. One quarter mile later and I begin a sweeping left hand turn. The darkness is now more evident as the overhanging trees obscure most of the light shed from above. In mid stride I reach up and click on my headlamp. The bright glow of the focused beam lighting the way and now my constant companion. There is a measure of security in this beam as I can now see and be seen. 

As I follow the curvature of the streets I find myself settling into a comfortable pace. There is a slight breeze which rustles the leaves. This breeze sounds like the string section if the philharmonic.  My breathing has become easy and I forget about the need to breathe. My breathe is as natural as my stride; it is simply there. Evident but forgotten. 

I turn right and run down an alley. It is darker than the surrounding streets. I feel as though I am doing something wrong. Running in the darkness when others are sound asleep. This thought quickly leaves me as I turn left and now run past a business which is humming with pre-dawn activity. I am not alone but still unaccompanied. My path takes me to a road normally busy with traffic. There are cars but not close to the numbers seen at other times of the day. I cross this street and head to the bike path on the opposing side. Cars race by me but I remain cloaked in darkness. If I switch off the headlamp I cannot be seen as I run just feet from the busy road. When streetlights allow this action to safely take place I will abide. 

Darkness envelopes me as does the accompanying solitude. I make sweeping left and right hand turns and find myself in the home stretch. An hour has flown by and to the East there is a faint light rising above the horizon. Daylight is approaching and with it the busyness of the day. The sound of traffic has increased

Namaste.