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December 15, 2014 Comments (9) Training

Finding your way in the Dark

Sunset Peak

During the winter, many of us are hampered by the dwindling daylight, which bookend our normal work hours. This requires us to do much of our running in the absence of sunlight, and often at the coldest parts of the day. And perhaps, you are better then I am, but I struggle to consistently train during these periods. Over the years, I have found a few strategies effective and ineffective. If these echo your experiences, I am glad I am not alone. If however, they help you in improving your results, I will be ecstatic.


Left in the Dark!

Ineffective habits of runners who never get out in the winter:

  1. No plan – no defined time, route or training plan
  2. Running alone
  3. Waiting until the morning to get ready
  4. Hoping the weather will get better
  5. Planning a long run
  6. Thinking too much about it
  7. Being inconsistent
  8. Waiting until after dinner
  9. Checking your email, phone, etc. before leaving
  10. Cuddling with that special someone

Illuminating the Dark!

Effective habits of runs who make it happen:

  1. Have a plan!
  2. Meet a friend – Seriously, are you going to be that friend who bails at 5am, NO!
  3. Set up a routine – We are creatures of habit and habits need time to develop
  4. Never let the weather be an excuse, Just Do It!
  5. Shorten your run – A lot of times we need to focus on quality in the winter anyway
  6. Have your spouse help kick you out of bed
  7. Prepare – Avoid the bail-out by laying out your clothes and having everything ready the night before – nothing says I won’t really run like trying to find a glove in the dark house
  8. ‘Brag’ about it to your coworkers, friends, etc. – Positive social pressure is a good thing
  9. Visit familiar trails/routes – look for the beauty in the darkness
  10. Start enjoying a podcast, book on tape and have this time set aside to enjoy it
  11. Have good gear – Solid lights and warm clothes make a HUGE difference

That’s the quick list!

How do you run in the dark, winter hours?

Share your winter routine in the comments!


9 Responses to Finding your way in the Dark

  1. Agreed! Having a friend on the hook for a early-AM run in the dark is a huge motivator. You don’t want to be the one who bails at the last minute! Another way to motivate yourself out of bed in the morning is to pick a new trail, route, or ridge – something that you are excited about exploring. Often, the desire to explore and go new places is the only thing that gets me on the trails before sunrise.

  2. […] Effective and not so effective habits of early morning runners. […]

  3. Steve P says:

    I have a rule that if it’s too cold or icy, I run on the treadmill….always with a podcast in my ears. If I go outside and it seems nice out, I’ll run the roads, again with a podcast.
    I run almost daily before work at 5am…in New Hampshire, so if I can do it, anyone can. Weekends I run on trails with my wife.

  4. Check the weather the night before and put the clothes out you’ll need for the morning. If it’s going to rain make sure you know where the petroleum jelly is to prevent chaffing. I find that you don’t need gloves if the temperature is 10 *c or over.
    Always expect it to be raining. Wearing a cap with a peak keeps the rain off your face and feels better.

  5. NedBarrett says:

    When it’s especially cold (but hey, I live in South Carolina), I overdress a little so that when I step outside I’m not shivering. I end up running a while with my jacket around my waist or something, but I find it helps me.

  6. Eric says:

    Thanks for these motivating tips – I would also add: set a race for early March that will motivate you to get out and train. After all, getting out is the hard part, who ever really regrets a run?

  7. Having a good headlamp is key. I have spent many hours running on country roads in the dark. The hardest part was the mental aspect of not being able to see what is woods watching you run by.

  8. Kyle @ SKORA says:

    Interesting list! Seeing it from the other way around, generally you see “good habits of highly effective people” but you rarely see the bad habits!

    Getting together with other runners is one of the best methods I’ve found on getting out when there is less sunlight or it’s colder. A run club is GREAT motivation.

  9. loanemu says:

    A big thank you for your article.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

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