Night Time Running Tips

Night Time Running Tips


If you run long enough, or far enough, you will encounter a need to run at night.

Have you run in your race the dark before? If you are planning on a race that will take you into the darkness, there are a few tips to discover:

You will slow down in the dark. Your pace won’t be the same as it was during the daylight hours.  Consider that in your racing planning segments.

Your world just got reduced to a very small circle around you.  Gone are the views, the other runners around you, the ability to see what’s ahead.  There is a decided lack of stimulation that occurs.  This is called optic flow.

Optic flow is how you perceive your environment while moving through it. As you run through the forest and pass scenery, how you see it while moving past is the optic flow. It’s important for helping you understand the size and shape of objects around you and how quickly, if at all, they are moving. It’s important for hand eye coordination and making decisions on how you can interact with the world around you. The new research suggests it might also play a role in how difficult you perceive yourself to be working. So, why you think you are just moving down the trail, you might be disheartened/disappointed/devastated to see you’ve only gone a ½ mile when you think you’ve covered two miles!

Lights-everyone needs a light. I suggest you carry two lights. When the first light dies-just because-you’ve got a back up.  I also suggest your back up light be just as good as your primary light.  Johan Steele, one of the 2015 Barkley Runners, had to hunker down overnight on his third loop because his light gave out-and didn’t finish Loop 3 in time.

Batteries? I suggest carrying batteries. It all depends on your distance and time you will take between aid stations. Also the temperature. Batteries will drain much quicker in the colder temperature.  I’ve tucked batteries right up against my body during night runs, in order to keep them warm and working.

Feel like you are falling asleep, can’t see very well? What setting is your headlamp on, how long have you been using those batteries? Were these new batteries when you started the race?  Time to swap out batteries.

I always buy new batteries for each run. Yes, that means I have plenty of old batteries laying around at home. I used these batteries in my lamps for runs around the block, where it’s less of a big deal if the light goes out.

What lamp to buy? My go to lamp is my ten year old Myo Petzl headlamp. I have no idea of the lumens of this old boy.

I did just purchase two new lights. One is a headlamp and one is a handheld.

My preference for night time running is a head lamp. In fact, when actually “running” at night, the swinging movement of a flashlight kind of nauseates me. But sometimes a handheld is needed when you are searching for blazes on trees or rocks, or small little metal tags on a cross country course.

Hardrock Course Marker

My headlamp that I purchased: Princeton Tec Apex LED Headlamp

The biggest and brightest headlamp in the Princeton Tec professional series, the Apex® LED headlamp stands up to harsh weather and throws 275 lumens up to 116m on high.

  • Features a high-output Maxbright LED for intense, long-range spot lighting; four Ultrabright 5mm LEDs combine to provide wide-angle, close-in lighting
  • Includes four brightness levels and an emergency strobe; dual switch design allows easy access to all five modes
  • Headlamp outputs 275 lumens and throws light up to 116m on high to light up the trail ahead
  • Power-regulated circuit board ensures consistent lighting levels; Apex provides 1.5 hrs. of regulated light and 90 hrs. of total burn time with the Maxbright LED on high
  • Switch to the 5mm LEDs on low and get up to 14 hrs. of regulated output and 150 hrs. of total burn time

The handheld I purchased: Fenix E35 Ultimate Edition Flashlight

Featuring 4 different wide-beam settings, the E35 bursts up to 900 lumens and over 500-ft. of light-shedding power with the push of a button in any mode, providing powerful visibility in any setting.

I had just received my REI dividend check and the REI 20% coupon so I went for it and bought both lights. I want to make sure and experiment and use both of these before heading out west.

I will be going through two nights on the Hardrock course. With it being a loop course, having more lights gives me better flexibility on packing drop bags. I could use one of my “A” Lights on the first night, and then pick up my second “A” light at a later aid station drop bag.  Note: I will be carrying a light, probably the Fenix handheld either from the beginning of the race or from the afternoon on. You never know where you might take a turn off the course and be miles and hours behind where you think you will be.

The next step is to actually use these lamps at night! Check your gear!


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