THE END OF DST The days have more dark hours now that we are into the heart of fall headed toward winter, regardless of how time is kept, by standard or saving method. When we ‘fall backward’ this weekend it means we will be experiencing more darkness in the late afternoon and evening than in the morning.
Beyond this week, the dark portions of the days will lengthen until the middle-end of December. Running outside on streets, sidewalks, and paths narrowed by piled-up snow or made poorly visible when precipitation falls in the cold air will require taking extra care with and paying attention to safety. Vehicles can’t see us all that well and we cannot see our way easily. Runners can make themselves more visible, make their way more visible, or do both for protection from harm.
Wearing clothes, shoes, or accessories decorated with reflective material is one way to increase the visibility of our persons. Head lamps and clip-on strobe lights can do this for us also. Lights such as these may also be able to illuminate our paths.
A YouTube video, titled ”White At Night Challenge”, by FlashBrite Reflective Products makes the point of how wearing white to be visible isn’t always an effective strategy. The conditions in which the 7 people are moving forward toward the camera are unusually dark. Therefore, the demonstration is a bit extreme considering most of us wouldn’t run in a pitch black area where we cannot see where we are going! But considering the terrible view I get through a cold wet car windshield at night, a bit more visibility is probably a good idea for runners and walkers this time of year. Experience has shown me that when driving in the city, pedestrians will dart out between cars in dark clothes and I can hardly see them at all. It stands to reason that if we choose to be in the same roadway with autos we should take care to be seen.
Nathan Sports has a variety of products that can help in this regard. Other reflective vest products are available that are not terribly expensive.
My small bit of advice is that tiny strips of reflective material applied onto or sewn into shoes, sleeves, hats, and pant legs are probably not going to help all that much in making you more visible in time for a car to brake and avoid hitting you. The positioning of this material may be seen only from the front as you run (wrists, sleeves, hats, headlights) or from the rear (heel, pant cuffs, jacket backs). They may be so small as to appear to be bits of reflected light off other objects.
If you wish to be protected, take a light that you can shine in the direction needed (to see or be seen) at different times in the run or walk. Make sure reflective materials cover a large enough surface area that the shine can be seen to bounce with your motion. It might more readily catch the attention of a driver than a small glimmer that seems to be stationary.
I love the LED headlamp I carry in my hand. I point it forward or backward as needed. I bought it on sale about 7 years ago. I also love the Nike jacket with 2/3 of the body (lower back and front) solidly covered in reflective wear. It’s not sold anymore, sadly. Most apparel has a dots or dashes of the material on it now. I run in very quiet streets in the early morning when drivers are rushing to get to work and not expecting other cars, let alone people, to be on the streets with them. You’ll need to experiment with what is best for your needs. Best to start with inexpensive items.
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Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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