With Ragnar Trail Relay (Vail Lake) beginning in just 10 days, Team Coast Busters (or half of us rather) made it out tonight to run trails in the dark! Initially, I was hesitant about even signing up for this race because I”m already a klutz enough running on the road – imagine the damage I could do in the dark on winding trails?! But, I forgot about the running in the dark part when I realized how awesome the race would be (free s’mores, free hot chocolate, free yoga, stand up comedian, musicians, and MORE plus we can camp and not sleep in a smelly van?! Woohoo!).
When the thought of running alone in the dark came up again, Mike offered to run my night time legs with me on top of his own (good husband!). However, after tonight’s night trail run with my new 70 lumen Black Diamond headlamp, I’m starting to feel like I will be fine on my own! There are some trails in Cardiff near our house and we met up with some other team members to head out to ease all of our minds about racing in the dark.
Experiencing a night run was key to easing my ears but Googling also helped. Since I know that pretty much all ultra running is on trails and involves a night time portion, I figured that there would be plenty of guidance on the internet about how to tackle a night run. Here’s what I came up with in my research:
Night Trail Running Tips (Thanks to Active.com and Runner’s World)
1) Wear a headlamp of at least 70 lumens. You can also opt for carrying a flashlight but you know that a headlamp will always shine where you are looking!
2) Don’t run alone. Especially if you are a woman. No matter how safe you feel on your home trail, don’t go out there alone at night please! Not only could you get abducted and never heard from again, but if you were to fall or injure yourself, the chance of anyone finding you quickly is slim.
3) Keep your feet up. Because the shadows in the night can distort your depth perception, it’s easier to underestimate the height of rocks or roots and trip. Try to keep your feet up a bit more at night.
4) Run at a familiar trail. It can be easier to get lost in the night so try to choose a trail that you are familiar with. Bonus points if you bring a phone and/or compass (iPhone has a compass), although the GPS on the phone won’t show the trails so it won’t be a lot of help getting you back home other than letting you know you are at least heading in the right direction (yes, I tried this).
5) Slow Down. You won’t be able to run as quickly at night as in the day but that is part of the challenge. Running trails at night will increase your agility and actually adds a new element to running. It can actually translate into faster day time runs.
Have you ever run trails at night? Any tips I left out?
I have been following your blog for a while but never commented. I just wanted to say that I truly believe all of the trail running and running by feel, not by watch is going to do wonders for your ability to BQ! You will get faster by listening to your body more and not your watch! I am excited to see what you have in store for your 2014 season.
Thank you! I think freeing myself from so much data is a good thing for sure!
Jesse - Questionably Texan
I love trail running at night! It feels so different. The first few times I did it, it felt really odd and somewhat scary. Now I love it though. There’s something about only being able to see a small portion of what’s around you.
If the trail I’m running is more technical, and has a lot of roots or rocks, I’ll run with a headlamp and a handheld flashlight. Since headlamps are right by your eyes, they don’t really cast shadows so it can be hard to judge how big an obstacle is. Running with a handheld casts a shadow that aids in depth perception.
So how was it?? I’m in GA but a group of us just decided last night to do the Ragnar Relay in Tahoe in July… So now, when I should be asleep, I’m googling trail running at night and came across your post!
Race recap plus another post reviewing the race itself to come shortly! Check back this week!