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November 09, 2023

The thought of running at night can be a daunting for anyone, regardless of skill level. Understandably too, it's cold, dark and at this time of year it's also wet more often than not, but don't let that put you off. Not only is running in the dark pretty much a must if you want to train this winter (and have a day job) but with a little prep night running can be a fantastic experience. 

And when it comes to running in the dark there are few folks more qualified than Ultra Running Phenom - Kim Cavill.

 After the initial spookiness of running in the dark, I came to love it. If you do a quality session in the light, there’s so much else to focus on and draw your attention away. At night though, it is just you and your thoughts.

You may feel nervous about trail running at night, but once you start, you might get hooked! There are very few feelings that can beat surging through trees on a single track, surrounded by the true silence the night brings, or running along the top of a moor, seeing the twinkling lights of towns beneath and knowing that you’re doing something so much more exciting than the people in their warm little boxes.

If you’ve never run on the trails in the dark before, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Get a Decent Head-Torch.
It should be comfortable, bright and have a good battery life. Talk to people you trust about which one to get and try them out first if possible. A hand held torch is fine as a back-up, but having one on your head is much more stable and easy to use.

2. Know Your Route.
Everything looks different in the dark, so make sure you know where you are going and have done it in daylight first. This becomes especially important if you are running off road and on trails. 

3. Don’t Look at your Feet.
Your perception is different in the dark too, especially if you don’t have a super bright head torch. Keep your head up and trust your feet to do the work.

4. Be Okay with Going a Bit Slower at First.
It is hard to run fast on trails at night, especially at first. Treat it as an experience and embrace the bubble of light.

5. Dark Distorts
When you’re running though trees, it can feel like you’re zooming along, so be aware that the dark might distort your perception of speed and distance.

6. Your Torch will Create Shadows.
These are not monsters or panthers, but they may make obstacles like roots look different. Be aware of your path choices and pick your feet up.

7. Stop
Every so often, stop, turn your torch off and look around you. Look at the stars; the shapes the night creates; breathe it in and relish the quiet.

8. Dress Smart (or least like a ninja)
Wear all black so you can pretend you’re a ninja. And a cape. Capes are ace at night especially around Halloween. But, you should probably wear a bit of hi-viz so you don’t frighten the dog walkers.


Finally, don’t let darkness put you off running trails on an evening. With a bit of forward planning and taking sensible precautions, it can make you feel even more confident on the trails in the day. Happy winter running!


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