Forget expensive gym memberships and restrictive timetables! Beat the heat and take a night run for some fitness action when it suits you. Check out these clever night running tips to stay safe, beat your personal best and get motivated. On your marks, get set, go!
Light up & shine
While those twinkling stars and bright city lights are awe-inspiring, the most important thing to remember is your safety. If you’re hitting the city or suburban streets and running close to traffic, kit yourself out in high visible reflective clothing – so those flashing headlights will spot you from a mile in low-light conditions. Full reflective spray jackets are light weight and available in moisture wicking fabrics, which absorb sweat and dry fast without weighing you down. Go for a relaxed fit with a long length body and reflective sleeves for wind and rain protection, and zip pockets so you can keep your mobile phone handy and keys safe.
Slip into your perfect pair
You wouldn’t jump in puddles without a pair of gumboots on now would you? The same goes for running. Keep your goals and running style in mind when determining the best fit, brand and style shoe. Shoe strips are essential for night-time running and get your shoes properly fitted in-store by a shoe specialist – they’ll give you the right advice to find the best fitting runners for your feet’s unique shape and pronation, your running style, frequency, duration and surface.
If you’re running more than 50km a week, you’ll need a few pairs on hand for each running style. For example, you might need a more cushioned shoe for recovery runs, a mid-cushioned shoe for regular runs and a less supportive and more lightweight shoe for speed work.
Even if you’re just running for the love of it, it’s a good idea to rotate your shoes to allow the rubber to regenerate over a few days and, mixing up your shoes for your different runs will modify the support and cushioning required, stabilise your muscles and make you less susceptible to injury. Do this and you’ll enjoy your night run in comfort, have the right tools to perform at your best and be one step ahead of feet aches and injuries. Step to it!
Find your best time
Timing is everything so work out your best running time to perform at your optimum. Are you most motivated straight after work or after a little relaxation? Do you prefer total darkness and starry skies or love to run as the sun sets with crashing waves as the music to your ears? Working out your ideal time will keep you motivate and pumped to stay on your fitness track.
Then there’s your other ‘best time’ – finding your optimum running frequency and distance. If you’re new to running, take baby steps to build your fitness and avoid injury. Listen to your body. If you’re aching in the days post-run, take it easy. If you’re training for a fun run, marathon, to lose weight or improve your fitness, speak to an expert who can help you develop a training program that includes core strengthening and resistance training, as well as a nutritionist who can develop a suitable plan for your nutrition needs.
Boost your energy
Dinner may be summoning your tummy, but avoid eating a full meal before hitting the rolling hills. Instead, Melbourne-based Advanced Sports Dietitian Alison Patterson suggests a light, carb-based snack in the 1-2 hours before you head out for a run. “This will help top up the fuel levels in your muscles, giving you energy to get through your session,” she explains. “A banana, a couple of rice cakes with peanut butter or some toast with honey are good options to try. Also, avoid starting a run dehydrated. Check your pee in the lead-up to your run, and if it’s dark, then drink some extra water.”
Exercise with a friend
While solo runners love the freedom that running alone offers them, social butterflies are perfect for night running – they reap the rewards of improving their health and fitness, catching up with friends, having the safety of a running with a mate and have a pal to motivate them. It’s a win-win all round. If you are flying solo, stick to safe running areas and be alert to your surroundings at all times.
Mix things up
If you’re becoming bored with the same running routine, mix things up. Swap your bay run for a beach run or a muscle workout, explore your local surrounds to discover new sites and places, try the long stretch of an open road for a gaze into what lies ahead, go trail blazing with nightlights and headgear or hit the parks for greener pastures. Or, mix up your running routine with distance, sprints and recovery runs.
If the twinkling stars, rolling hills, reflective waters or bright city lights aren’t enough to motivate you, set yourself some goals and track your progress. Free apps like Strava record and track your progress through GPS, so you can see at a glance your distance, time, elevation and calories. You’ll be totally chuffed, not puffed, and inspired to run and achieve your personal best. Go get ‘em!