Embrace Autumnal running!


Are you one of those who prefers running in winter evenings than in the bright summer sun? Group Leader and fitness journalist Peta Bee discusses the thrill of running in the dark in her latest blog.

"Noticed that your regular routes have become a little crunchier underfoot this week and that daylight is diminishing somewhat as you head out for a run after work? September’s Indian summer is a fading memory as Autumn blusters in, bringing with it a host of different running challenges. As temperatures drop and nights draw in, so extra layers and added visibility become priorities. But it’s not all bad news.

A quick survey of my running group revealed that many (myself included) prefer running on dark, cold nights than on hot, sticky, well-lit summer evenings. Why? For me, darkness provides fewer distractions. I feel less self-conscious and more focused on my immediate surroundings and on how I feel. Darkness envelops me like a security blanket and I am sure I speed up during the cooler months - if only in an attempt to keep warm.

In our area of Berkshire we lack street lights which can mean our repertoire of evening runs is restricted compared to the wealth of trails and woodland paths available to us in the summer. Not to be deterred, however, we invested in cheap, lightweight head-torches last year that enabled us to follow the Thames Path even in ink-black conditions. Granted, we move more slowly as we are cautious about what is underfoot, but the experience of running in muffled silence watched by beady eyes that catch our head-lights along the river bank is invigorating.

My top tips? Allow your eyes time to get used to the dark when the nights draw in. Try a few loops of route you know well in the dark rather than heading out on an unknown loop for the first time. Because your peripheral vision is reduced in the dark, you may need to slow down in areas you don’t know too well. And make yourself visible. Fluorescent colours are great for dim, grey days, but at night white clothing with reflective strips or LED lights attached to moving body parts (the arms and legs rather than the trunk) show up better in motorist’s headlights.

Above all, relish the challenge of Autumnal running and the improvements in balance, fitness and confidence it can bring!"

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