"I must admit, my biggest fear and the reason I don't do it is because I'm afraid I'm going to get kidnapped or something!! What do you do to quell that fear?"And as a woman and also a morning runner, I must admit that is one of my fears too. Even though I leave notes and let Brian know my routes each morning, if something were to happen, no one would really know. I could get hit by a car, become injured or be kidnapped and it would be a while before anyone would realize I was missing.
But these scary thoughts shouldn't deter us from running in the morning! Here are a few things that I do to quell that fear -
Run your routes in the daylight - Become very familiar with your normal routes while it is light out so that it will be easier in the early dark mornings. It is all about becoming comfortable and if you know that the second house on right has a flag that flaps or a dog that barks, you will be less likely to be scared because you will be familiar.
(If possible) Start your run in the dark and end it in the light - Certain times of year allow for this, usually not in the winter but with daylight savings time this will be possible at least for a few more weeks. Find out your local times for dawn and sunrise. For example, if dawn is at 6:26am and sunrise is at 6:56am, start your run around dawn or 6:30am and that way you will start in the dark but end your run when its light out. That way you slowly ease into running in the dark.
Wear a headlamp - This provides light for you to see as well as light for motorists to see you so it is twice as helpful. Being able to see the road ahead of you is vital to making a morning run easier and you are less likely to step in a pot hole or trip over a branch. It may look funny to wear one but no one is out there anyway to see you.
Run on well lit routes - Even with a headlamp, a dark street can look uninviting to a morning runner so I try to run routes that have street lights or neighborhoods with houses that leave their outside lights on. If you see a dark street and you feel uncomfortable with it then don't run that way. I have changed my route many times just because I have a funny feeling and don't think I should run down a certain street - always trust your gut feeling!
Becoming comfortable with running in the dark is a process and often takes time to get used to but is well worth it. In my 5+ years of morning running I have never been approached by anyone, no car has ever stopped to talk to me or ask directions and I have only scared myself with my own shadow a handful of times.
But while running in the daylight/afternoon, I have been stopped many times by motorists asking for directions and have cars scare me by honking at me. The dark mornings may seem scary but usually there are very few people outside and very few motorists on the road.
Happy Morning Running!