When choosing apparel or shoes to wear running, most of us think only about comfort and fit. While these are a priority for runners, making sure you’re safe on your run is more important. The days of having to put a reflective sticker on your shirt or wear a bright-colored, reflective vest for running over your workout gear are over. Technological advancements have made reflective gear easy to find when choosing apparel because most large clothing brands are putting it on shirts, hats, shoes, and shorts.
Obviously, reflective gear is important for running at night so cars and other pedestrians can see you coming. In actuality, you should be wearing it no matter the time of day because it’s not always easy for drivers to see runners, especially if they are driving in a crowded area or it’s bright, sunny, foggy, or raining outside. Because it’s so common on fitness clothing today, there’s really no reason not to wear it 100% of the time.
How to choose the right gear for you
Make sure you have a small bit of reflectivity on every body part. Focus on the largest parts of your body but also try to include it on hats, socks, and belts as well. The more oncoming cars can see you, the better.
“In the pitch dark, reflective gear around your upper body is the most important because it is the biggest/widest part of you and will be the most easily seen,” Anoush Arakelian, a Boston-based running coach, shared with Map My Run. “I tend to buy shoes that have a patch of reflective gear so I never even have to think about it. Most tights also have reflective gear around the calf area, which I find valuable for late night/early morning runs as well. The last item I usually have is a headband or hat.”
A few good options are this running jacket from Brooks. It’s lightweight and has targeted reflective areas on the front, back, and arms. (If you love to match, snag a pair of the carbonite leggings as well.) I’m of the opinion that when it comes to safety, go big or go home. This fully-reflective jacket from Adidas is priced well and will keep all eyes on you when you’re running before dawn or after dusk.
To make sure you’re covered head-to-toe, check out this reflective runner’s hat. According to the description, the “safety yellow lightweight runner’s ultra pocket hats are lightweight and moisture-wicking with two convenient zippered side pockets for easy access to your everyday essentials such as keys, money, energy gels, and ID.” Sounds like a win-win.
If wearing a hat isn’t your jam, try a reflective headband like this one from Backcountry. It’s moisture-wicking and the neon coloring will make sure you are seen coming and going.
If you live in a warm weather state or wear minimal clothing during your long runs, there’s a solution for you, too. Safety Skin Reflective Skin Spread is a new-ish product that lets you put reflective gel on your arms, legs, or forehead. It works similarly to body glide but with color that reflects light. Its hypoallergenic wax base “allows natural perspiration during activity,” so you don’t have to worry about sweating it off.
Another easy option is this Nite Ize SlapLit LED Slap Wrap. It works just like a slap bracelet, so it couldn’t be easier to put on, and it has in-built functionality of an LED light strip to keep you safe and visible at night. It also has a flash mode, so if you’re in a high-traffic area or are running down a dark back road, cars will most definitely see you coming.
Before you head out
Any time you run in the dark, it’s a good idea to have a form of ID on you if something were to happen. Also, let someone know your route and when you’re leaving. It’s an added measure of safety, especially if you run alone. No one wants to think something bad will happen when they get miles in after dark, but things can happen, and it’s better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes.
Also, make sure you are adhering to road signs and traffic laws. Trying to beat a light or cross a street in an undesignated area just creates more opportunity for an accident to happen. You may have reflective gear on, but cars and bikes may not be able to see you in time. The less time you spend worrying about your safety, the more you can spend concentrating on your workout.
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