Keeping your running streak going during winter is tough. But running in the dark is not as daunting as you might think. (Credit: EN4 News)

We’ve all been there. You’ve been on a fitness kick all summer and you’re feeling great. You’ve settled into a running routine and nothing can stop you.

But then the seasons turn and the dark nights close in. You come back from work or university and it’s already dark outside, and the last thing you want to do is head back out into the cold for a run.

Well not anymore. These are excuses of the past and there is no reason why your hot running streak should freeze now winter has arrived.

With the help of Edinburgh running shop Run4It, here are three top tips that will get you prepared to keep running during those dreaded dark winter nights.

Follow the light!

This is fairly explanatory. If you’re going out for a run in the dark, you’re going to need a bright and reliable torch so you can see where you are going.

Head torches are the most obvious option, but if you’re thinking of just using one of those clunky head torches that you might associate with being on a camping trip then listen up: there are now head torches specifically designed for runners that are smaller and lighter than ever before while retaining impressive brightness and depth of the beam.

The Petzl Reactik Plus (left) features reactive lighting technology, while the Petzl Actik Core offers an impressive 350 lumens beam. (Credit: Petzl)

“There is a whole range of different head torches, it just depends on what you will be needing it for,” explains Run4It store manager Emma Burton.

“It generally depends on whether you will be running in complete darkness, in which case you will need a headtorch with higher lumens, or if you are going to be running in and out of areas that have light, such as the streets.

“Some head torches are reactive to your surroundings as well and are designed with a little sensor on the front. So if the sensor detects it’s getting darker it will automatically light up and that will save you having a fiddle with the buttons to make it lighter.”

The importance of being seen

While it’s important to be able to see where you’re going when you’re out on a run in the dark, it’s just as key for other people to be able to see you. This is especially important if you end up running alongside traffic.

You’re going to need some reflective gear, but that doesn’t mean you need to dress up in a bright yellow vest looking like you’re out on a French protest march. There are now a number of fashionable, lightweight running jackets that reflect light without being garishly yellow.

The Momentum (left) has a patterned reflective strip along the sleeves, chest, and back, while the Infinity (right) features an iridescent strip along the front. (Credit: Ronhill)

Ronhill’s See Me Run range, for example, features the Momentum and Infinity jackets, which offer reflectivity without looking like a typical reflective jacket. The Momentum is a dark blue jacket that has a patterned print along the sleeves, chest, and back that offers 360 degrees of reflectivity, while the Infinity is black with an iridescent reflective strip along the front, which lights up multicoloured.

“Even though the jackets are dark and you could wear them out and about, the reflective patterns and strips just gives you that extra bit of safety at nighttime,” Emma says.

Additionally, light clips and light armbands are also available to help you stay extra visible this winter. Emma says the clips and armbands are popular with customers because they are nonrestrictive and easy to use.

Don’t run alone, be social!

So you’ve got the gear, now you just need to get out and do it. But we get it, getting out and running in winter is just not an easy thing to do.

Emma’s top piece of advice is to join a running club or to get a group of mates together and run at the same time.

“It’s so easy when the weather is horrible to just sack it off and stay inside on the sofa, but having that group of people that you’ve already arranged to meet will keep you going,” Emma says.

Run4It organises a weekly running club on Monday evenings, offering an interval-based session around the Meadows or Holyrood Park. The sessions are free and it’s a great opportunity to keep your fitness up during the winter months.

“It’s an extra bit of motivation,” Emma says. “If you have something lined up once a week at a certain time you are more likely to keep going. It’s also a really friendly group and because it is so friendly a lot of people see it as a social session as well.”

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