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Light Yourself Up!

I come to you with a VERY important reminder.

Reflective Vest

To LIGHT YOURSELF UP if you’re running in the dark. Based on the title you probably thought this might be one of those motivational/let your light shine kind of posts, right? Wrong. While you should always do those things, the point of this post is to remind you about running safety in the dark now that the days are shorter and most people who work regular 9-5 hours are forced to run in the dark whether you run before or after work. This post also turned into a #throwbackthursday collage of slightly embarrassing old running photos.


In all seriousness, I beg you please not to run in the dark without reflective gear on. The neighborhood that we recently moved to is full of families and active people (which is awesome) and I often see tons of people out running and dog walking before and after work. I have been BLOWN AWAY by how many of them are running in the dark, in dark clothing, in a dark neighborhood without a lot of streetlights. I counted no fewer than five runners as I was leaving the neighborhood on Tuesday morning at 5:50 a.m. to go teach and I think one person had a light or reflective gear on.

Throwing on a reflective vest is such a simple step to take that can pay off huge when it comes to your personal safety. Think about how prevalent distracted driving is these days. You are only adding to your chance of being involved in an accident with a distracted driver if you cannot be seen. And some of the runners I have seen have been so hard to spot even for drivers who are scanning the horizon with two hands on the wheel.

I have had the same reflective vest for six years (clearly based on the photos above) and I always slip it on before a dark run. At one point I also had a blinking light for Sullie’s collar and I need to replace that now that Zoey is running with me and for our dark walks. I also carry my iPhone with the flashlight on so that I can see better and so that drivers see that light shining.

Here are some ideas to consider for dark running/walking safety.

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Reflective Vest with Pockets and Reflective Safety Bands

This unisex reflective vest is available in three sizes. It features a zip pocket to store a key, your ID or cash/card and comes with two reflective arm bands for additional safety measures.

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Clip-On LED Strobe Lights

These clip-on LED strobe lights have over 400 5-star reviews on Amazon. They’re great for running, cycling or dog walking. Just clip them onto your clothes, helmet or pups collar and there’s no way anyone will miss you. I see these on a lot of bikes here in Charlotte and they are great.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 1.56.17 PMGo Doggie Glow USB Rechargeable LED Dog Collar

Let your puppy shine in style with one of these LED dog collars.

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Reflective Running Vest with LED Lights

If you’re looking for something a bit more stylish than the yellow reflective vest, check out this pink version that is not only reflective but also features LED lights.

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Reflective Beanie for Men and Women

Get the most bang for your buck when it’s cold AND dark with this reflective beanie from RunBaby. It comes in green, black and pink (you could have a whole pink look going with the pink vest and pink LED dog collar!).

And don’t forget these important safety tips for running in the dark:

  • Run against traffic. Day or night, unless I’m on a safe sidewalk, I NEVER trust drivers not to see me. I always run against traffic so I can get out of their way.
  • Let someone know where you’re going, your general route and when you plan to get back.
  • Have some sort of identifying information with you whether it’s the ICE contact in your phone, your ID, a safety bracelet or a sheet of paper you have tucked somewhere.
  • Consider unplugging. I will admit that I don’t always do this but losing the headphones will help you be more aware of your surroundings. I often listen to audio books so that I can still hear a lot of things in the background instead of blasting beats in my ears.
  • Run with a friend or running group if possible.

I would love to hear how you stay safe in the dark and any tips you might have.

Winner of the ALDI gift certificate is comment #15 Anna. I emailed you!

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Beth R. December 17, 2015, 3:32 pm

    Whenever my husband and I run in the dark–usually in the wee morning hours–we’re always cognizant of what we wear, because we didn’t own any reflective clothing. For Hanukkah, I bought him a light-up slap bracelet for runners, and during his first run with it….we were always hit by a truck running a red light!

    • Beth R. December 17, 2015, 3:33 pm


      • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 9:44 pm

        Glad you’re both okay! A lot of people just aren’t expecting to need to watch for people really early in the morning.

  • Nadine December 17, 2015, 4:09 pm

    Thank you posting this! As a runner I’ve had close calls even with reflectors and blinking lights all over and I can’t believe how many runners and bikers are out there without anything to let you know they’re on the road – crazy dangerous! We also like headlamps to see the uneven ground and heel lights are great too. Thanks for the post!

    • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 9:45 pm

      I know! Headlamps are definitely a good idea if you’re running on uneven ground.

  • Amanda Baker December 17, 2015, 4:29 pm

    This is such a great reminder – I’ve just started running more in the evenings, and picked up some reflective running gear. But I think I might pick up a vest and some blinky lights just to be extra safe.

    • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 9:46 pm

      Do it! It’s so worth it!

  • Kimberly w. December 17, 2015, 4:41 pm

    It SHOCKS me too when I see people out walking/running in the dark, early mornings or evenings! I simply don’t get it. And to add to that, some are even wearing headphones. You can’t hear the cars+the cars can’t see you = disaster waiting to happen.

    • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 9:48 pm

      I know! Both are easy problems to fix.

  • Jessica December 17, 2015, 5:04 pm

    I recently started running without my headphones when it’s dark. I wear my phone in an armband and just listen to my music out loud. I get strange looks from folks but at least they see and hear me! Along with my super cool reflective vest, of course.

    • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 9:50 pm

      Haha! The weird looks are totally worth getting in my opinion!

  • Sara December 17, 2015, 5:35 pm

    Yes! You have to be so careful. I had a scary almost accident with my son in my running stroller, I now wave traffic on and never assume someone sees me. I actually had a guy pull out in front of me (luckily I was doing the never assuming someone sees me routine) and he turned around, drove back and apologized.

    • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 9:53 pm

      So scary! I’m glad nothing happened! Better safe than sorry.

  • Kelly S. December 17, 2015, 10:08 pm

    Hi!! Living in Ohio, our daylight is quickly diminishing, and my neighbor and I find ourselves running in the dark often. We’ve been running using this product by noxgear. It’s also a light up vest of sorts and you can blink solid or pulsing lights and it’s so lightweight. They also make a light up vest for your dogs!! You should check it out!! It’s been endorsed by runners world i saw as well.

    • Jen DeCurtins December 20, 2015, 10:01 pm

      That’s awesome! I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jen December 17, 2015, 10:24 pm

    Yes to all of this! There is a woman in my neighborhood that runs at 5 a.m., wearing all black, in the street, going the same direction as traffic. As a fellow runner, I really want to stop her and tell her exactly what you’ve said here! I don’t run during the dark hours anymore but I did for years and always made sure to wear something bright with reflective details at a minimum. And my rule was unless I made eye contact with a driver, I assumed they did not see me.

    • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 10:02 pm

      That’s always a good assumption! I do that even in the daylight when I’m crossing streets.

  • Lesley December 18, 2015, 12:01 am

    Thank you for this reminder! It is so important for runners and walkers and I would add bicyclists too! to make ourselves visible! I live in the dark and rainy pacific northwest. So hard to see others and the transition hours when most people are exercising and driving is the most difficult visibility it seems too.

    • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 10:03 pm

      Yes! I’ve heard dusk is actually worse in terms of number of accidents than when it’s totally dark. It makes sense because there’s so much more traffic!

  • erin December 18, 2015, 8:55 am

    Such a great reminder! When I run in the dark I always wear a reflective vest. I also think that while it is very important to be visible it is also important to be a defensive runner and never assume that a car sees you or that a car will stop fully at a sign.

    • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 10:04 pm

      I totally agree!

  • ChristineB December 18, 2015, 10:52 am

    Thanks for the reminder! I refuse to buy winter running gear, especially outer layers, if it’s not reflective. Period. A runner in my in laws’ town was killed a few years ago when she was running at night without anything to make her visible and was hit by a car. It’s just not worth the risk.

    • Jen DeCurtins December 18, 2015, 10:06 pm

      It really isn’t. There’s no good excuse for not wearing it!

  • Rebecca December 18, 2015, 12:07 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! I have a reflective vest, several hats that have reflective strips, a clip-on blinky light and a light that clips onto my hat (so I can see the ground better). My dog has a reflective harness and her own blinky light. I don’t wear headphones in general, but I definitely wouldn’t in the dark.

    My neighborhood is generally very pedestrian-friendly, but there have been a few times that I’ve had to jump onto the curb or someone’s lawn because a car was coming too close. Glad I always run facing traffic: see and be seen!

    • Jen DeCurtins December 20, 2015, 10:05 pm

      I reflective harness is a great idea!

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