This week after a couple of twitter people suggested it I am going to write about running in the dark. I could warn you all to wear light colours and bibs so that you are easily seen, reminding you that yellow is the most visible colour of all. I remember reading somewhere that statistics show that yellow cars have fewer accidents than any other. I could google it and confirm but hey… I am just too lazy and happy to admit it. I could wax lyrical about my beautiful heel light which I put away carefully when the days started getting longer, so carefully in fact that it will never be lost because… I cannot find it to take it out the door. Anyway, I wrote all about that last year. I could enthuse about my new headtorch which in all honesty I love. I could name the brand tweet to them my blog and hope for some corporate freebies for being so nice. To be honest I threw the packaging away and can’t remember who the hell made it. Still it is rather nice with lots of different light levels and even a red led setting so you don’t loose night vision. I guess I have missed a trick there. Instead I am going to tell you about a couple of things I noticed about how I was running when I went out to research this subject in the dark.
I live in small village about 3 miles from the nearest small town, and when I say it is a small town I doubt you could get a ten mile route round the whole thing. There are very few street lights between my house and this town, I think there maybe 7 on a road on the outskirts. To town and back is my standard 10k run especially in winter and I can extend this easily enough if I need to. Running into town has one glorious advantage in winter months that running out into the country does not have. It is paved the whole way, despite there not being any street lights I am not sharing space with psychopathic loonies in 2 ton metal boxes hurtling down pitch black roads at 50 miles an hour. I did try that a couple of times and to be honest it wasn’t worth the heart attack. This lovely relatively safe out and back is a staple of my morning runs, most of the time I run in the evening but at least once during the week I have to get a run in before work and at this time of the year it means starting off in the dark.
Running through dawn has a curious side effect on my pace times. Even with my magically delightful headtorch it is not always easy to see where your feet are falling when running in the dark. Funnily enough one of the ways that I deal with this lack of visibility is to slow down and run more slowly so I don’t trip over unseen potholes, or paving slabs or killer clowns, or whatever it is you trip over in the dark. Then as the sky gradually lightens, and any clouds left hanging get painted a brilliant orange by the shiny disk of the sun while it staggers above the horizon, the pavement starts to reveal itself. There are the potholes, and the badly laid paving slabs and over there I pass the singular lack of killer clowns. My pace increases. By the time I get home without even thinking or trying circumstances have forced me into a natural negative split.
The other thing that I discovered this week was also about the way that the dark influences pace. When not running through the dawn wearing a headtorch I often drive to a town a bit further away of an evening. This is where I know I can run for over 10 miles under street lamps. On these streets I leave the headtorch at home and the only time I can see my garmin is when I enter the puddles of light. I am a sucker for regimented pacing and hardly ever do that fabled running exercise of running to feel. Not being able to see my watch for the majority of time means that I am almost forced to run to feel.
It may not be the article that people want, it may not be the standard running at night type blog but, I hope it makes some of you think about the advantages that running in the dark can give. When it comes to pacing the dark can be your friend. If you run through the dawn it can help produce those wonderful negative splits, and if you run through a town at night you can be freed from obsessive pace checking and truly run to feel.