Time spent running in the dark is the opposite of a disco sweatfest at Spin Psycle. Even I kind of hate it and I’m an advocate. It’s cold, it’s high impact and you might put your foot down a manhole.
Sold? Well, me too. I decided that dark running is a necessary evil after I managed to go a few times, didn’t fall down a manhole AND afterwards felt the smug satisfaction of someone who’s completed the Iron man challenge with two broken legs before breakfast. Plus you can go whenever, on your own terms and after you’ve got the basic gear, it’s FREE.
Running in daylight, against a light sunny breeze, towards goalposts you can physically SEE is infinitely preferable. BUT if you can haul your ass out the door against these adversities, then you’re in for a post-run treat; namely, a swift metabolic boost that magically makes that evenings red wine and a comfort food ‘calorie neutral’ refuelling fodder.Well, kind of. Here’s how:
Get right garms
Not only is this an excuse to buy more shit, it’s an essential part of getting comfortable and making sure that everyone else can actually see you.
If you’re new to the game, start with well fitting running trainers, a good sports bra and some thermal running tights. Trainer-wise Nike LunarGlide +5 make good all-rounders. Check out Decathlon and SportsShoes for the best value entry level gear.
Base layers are effective and more comfortable than a massive jacket. Merino wool is best at moisture wicking and regulating your temperature.
Choose neon or reflective outerwear. Running gloves and a warm headband makes all the difference. Plus, as terrible as they look, a head lamp could help you avoid slippery leaves, puddles and manholes.
An armband will carry your phone and you can tuck your keys into the pocket in your running tights. You really don’t need a water bottle unless you’re doing more than 10k, just ensure you’re hydrated before you set off. Plus, a lovely strong coffee 20mins before you set off gives you extra bounce.
Get a run bud
RIGHT, until you can call this madness a ‘habit’ you need to start going a couple of times a week. For longer than a week. The best way to do it is force your best friend or boyfriend to suffer too. Choose wisely, it helps if they LURVE fitness or at least don’t tell you it’s a terrible idea on a regular basis.
Get some tech
Your club will also have tried and tested routes but if you’re going rogue, stay on well lit paths. You need to see where you’re treading and be fully aware of your surroundings. Go easy on the ol’ 101 top running tunes compilation and as ugly as it is, I can confirm that padding along Lea Bridge Road is brighter, busier and more sensible than Hackney canal.
Get a goal
You don’t have to train for a marathon. Give an hour on Saturday mornings to your local Parkrun. It’s a (genuinely semi-enjoyable) non-stressful free 5k timed run, that takes place all around the country at 9am every week, and will help you set some goals.
Don’t worry about being slow – people run with dogs, buggys and 12 yr olds (and they often beat me) – it’s the LEAST intimidating experience ever.
Parkrun will set your basic 5k PB and then viola! You have a mini goal during the week to train for. Plus, you’ll be prepared by stealth for that inevitable ‘must start running’ resolution in 2015.
Get on the road
For morning people (I don’t know any), there’s always an option to do an early jaunt rather than after work. The clocks go back at the end of this month so it’ll be a little lighter if you set your alarm and basically sleep in your running gear.
Remember that running is about sooo much more than losing weight. It makes you feel strong, in control and afterwards, beautifully ZEN. Track your progress on your app of choice. It’ll spur you on and following other runners will keep you motivated.
Finally, keep on pushing. It never gets easier, but you do get faster and come spring, you’ll be brilliantly prepared to sign up to races and nail it like a pro. See you at the finish line…
Images: Nike| Sam Robinson: We Own The Night