Monday, November 11, 2013

Can You See Me Now?

Every year around this time, I start my annual freakout about running in the dark - no, it's not the bogeyman that is scaring me, it's my dark running clothes!  My bottom half is always dark - capris, shorts, most of my running skirts - and my long-sleeved tops and jackets tend to be darker colors, too.  Not very visible when I'm running in the street in the early morning before the sun comes up.

I don't know why I'm surprised when it gets so dark; you'd think this was my first year running and not my fourth.  I did buy two reflective flashing lights a couple of months ago - they are magnetic and can be clipped anywhere.  I usually have one on the front and back hem of my shirt.  They work, but I'd like to be a little more visible - I don't particularly need a headlamp to see, I just want drivers to see me. 
 My reflective flashing lights - I bought some for Jeff, too, but his are boring old yellow triangles.

I do all the standard safety things when running on the road - namely, I run facing traffic, and I stick to less-traveled areas.  But the fact remains that a driver is not expecting to see a pedestrian in the road, even on the side...and especially in the dark, so it's up to me to make myself known.  My inaction about this (based mainly on the cost, but also on the thought that we only run in the winter-dark months for a short time) ends this year - and I'll be getting something to make Jeff more visible as well.  I feel like we've played the runner's version of Russian Roulette long enough and it's time to act like responsible adults when it comes to safety and visibility.  Besides, if my (adult) kids were running in the dark, I'd be harassing them to wear this stuff...so why aren't we?

Here are some options I'm considering:

This reflective strappy thing - I like the idea because I could wear it over any of my tops, and it seems less bothersome than a full vest:
Details here - only con I can think of is that if I wore it over a jacket and got hot, I'd have to stop, take it off, take the jacket off and tie it around my waist, and put this back on.

Both of my running jackets are fairly dark - one is dark purple and the other is turquoise.  Neither have any reflective bits on them.  I could buy this new Nike Shield jacket:
But at $350 it's not an option.  And seriously, Nike...who is your market for this?  I know a lot of runners, but not one of them would spend that much money on a running jacket!

Another option, and slightly more affordable, is the Brooks Nightlife series - my neon yellow running shoes are part of that series, and while they are reflective, they're pretty low to the ground when it comes to visibility to drivers.  I like both their jacket and half zip tops, and I think they'd work well in low light, but I'm not entirely convinced they'd be seen in the dark:
The bonus would be that the neon yellow would match my running shoes...

I'm considering Knuckle Lights, too:
They're sold in pairs and the cheapskate in me wonders if Jeff could wear one while I wear the other?

Any other ideas?  I'm going to buy some of this gear in the next week, so please speak up if you think I've missed something - thanks!

32 comments:

  1. My running clothes are mostly dark too, especially in Winter. I always dress like a Christmas tree for my morning runs. I use lamps around my arms, I have a headlamp and I wear a safety vest over my running jacket. It's yellow like the Brooks nightlife jacket. These safety vest can be bought everywhere here because we are obliged to have one in the car too. They aren't expensive and perfect for running in the dark. I thought about buying that Brooks nightlife jacket too but it's expensive and the safety vest is a cheap option.

    I think you have everything covered for running in the dark. Like you I run against traffic but on weekdays I stay in my village when I run and we have bike paths and sidewalks everywhere here. So I don't have to run on the road in the dark. The only tricky thing is crossing a road. Most people don't expect a runner that early and don't pay attention this early in the morning. Luckily for me, I do :) and I don't cross a road when there's a car approaching.

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    1. Sounds like you know what you're doing when it comes to running in the dark - wise woman, Fran! :)

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  2. Walmart has some high vis tops in the mens dept. $15 in high vis yellow and the material is super soft. I have used it cycling and love it.

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    1. How funny, I never even thought to look anywhere but the running stores/departments - thanks for the great tip!

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  3. I know it is not cute but I use a construction safety vest when running. I think it was less than $10. I like the strappy one you have posted. I wear flashing lights when it is foggy.

    I routinely drive through a neighborhood that has no side walks and there are people walking in the dark on the road. I always want to pull over an tell them they are nearly impossible to see until they are about 40 feet away, nothing when you are in a car.

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    1. The only reason I'm not wanting to wear a vest like that is I think (know) it would bug me when my arms hit the sides...I can barely tolerate wearing a race bib for that reason (just call me the sensitive runner!).

      I, too, have wanted to pull over and lecture runners who are on the wrong side of the road that they're in danger - so far I haven't, but one of these days...

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  4. OOOH I LIKE THE KNUCKLE LIGHTS.
    now that it's dark I need to LIGHT UP AS WELL for my morning walks...

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  5. You might want to look at some bike lights. They are flashing in multiple patterns and really noticeable. They come with clips, so you can clip them to the hem or collar of your shirt. I think higher is better because drivers tend to be looking up higher.

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  6. I think you've got it down pat. I own a Brooks Nightlife vest and I can vouch that they are quite visible!

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  7. Well you already got some great suggestions. I was going to ask the obvious, like why doesn't it work to just buy a cheap white jacket and/or tee shirt at Walmart? I have no experience in this area. Dark = pajamas in the house : ))

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    1. I think the cheap white jacket vs a specifically-reflective jacket is the difference, not only in visibility but alas, in cost.

      Dark = pajamas sounds pretty cozy to me!

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  8. A friend of mine raves about the strappy thing - she said that drivers stop her and tell her that they could see her from really far away and ask her where she got it so they can get one.

    I have knuckle lights, and yes, you only need one. I like them better than the headlamps.

    A couple months ago, I got a Saucony Visipro jacket at Marshall's. It is bright hunter orange with lots of reflective pieces. But even cooler - it has a usb-rechargable battery pack in the pocket that connects to built-in flashing things in the jacket. It's pretty cool and has held up pretty well so far -- I was skeptical of washing a jacket that had built-in lights but it seems to work fine. I'm sure it would have been pricey at list price, but I think it was like $40 at Marshall's.

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    1. Good to hear about the strappy thing's visibility! And wearing only one of the knuckle lights, too...cool beans. My frugalness will work!

      I haven't looked at TJ Maxx for running gear - I guess once we got our real running store, I forgot about checking out my old haunt. But your jackets sounds great and a nice price, too! Will definitely take a swing through TJM this week.

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  9. I have a headlamp I carry in my hand. Which, I guess, is just a more expensive knuckle light. My running jacket is reflective and white, though.

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  10. I'd go with the vest-like option - it seems the easiest and most cost-effective, since you could wear it with anything you already own (rather than buying a jacket and having to wash it constantly). It doesn't take long to take those off, so that seems like a pretty minor con for that option, versus others.

    I've never seen the knuckle lights before! I was just about to buy a headlamp (I rarely run in the dark, but have been more often lately), but I'm going to check into those too.

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    1. I'm not sure I could stand the weight/pressure of a headlamp, which is why I like the idea of the knuckle lights.

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  11. Wow, so cool to see so many options out there for visibility!

    And I think it's VERY smart to be conscious of that. I think running in the dark earns extra bonus points, redeemable for yummy treats. I'm sure there's some scientific study somewhere that says it takes more calories to run while a little creeped out, and if not, there should be!

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    1. Bigger adrenaline burn of calories when you factor in the creep-out, for sure!

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  12. I like the strappy thing, along with some kind of light. Can you buy reflective tape? Not sure if it would be a viable option. I have no idea what it would cost, or how sticky it is (would it leave a sticky residue on your clothing?). Might be something to look in to. Also, what about checking the dollar store for small, flashing lights. Even if you had to replace them every year, would still be cheaper than ones marketed for runners. Again...no idea what is out there (in the dollar store). We have been talking about checking this out ourselves and have a dollar store right next to our running store. Just haven't got there yet! Perhaps leave a little earlier tomorrow night so we can look before our run.

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    1. We have a dollar store next to our running store, too! Too funny...and I've never checked there for flashing lights - great idea!

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  13. What about runner's reflective tape? You could put it on the jackets you already own.

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    1. Not a bad idea; I think it might leave some stickiness on the fabric, based on the couple of technical shirts I have that I've worn an adhesive name tag on. Another reader emailed me some info with sew on reflective tape; that might be an option if I could convince a sewing friend to attach it for me. :)

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  14. In my neighborhood, I'd be surprised NOT to see someone running, walking or biking in the wee hours. Especially right now, with a marathon coming up in a few weeks.

    Most of the early bird/night owls have lights or reflectors on, but one guy dresses in dark clothes....and, of course, walks down the middle of a two-lane road. Grrrr.

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  15. Someone is smoking some crack at Nike! They have those clothes with built in reflector patches http://www.relaxreflect.com ( i don't know if anyone else posted this)

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  16. I can't stand a headlamp. I feel like it bobs up and down as I run. Therefore, I bought a cheap clip on light for $2.99 at Academy that I clip on to my Headsweats visor. The visor is comfortable, and I have enough light to see my path in my wooded neighborhood (that has no streetlights). I know that is more about me being able to see than cars seeing me. I have this fear that I'm going to step on a snake.
    As for being visible to others, I wear two of the amphipod clip on lights plus my Nathan lightspur. I may be over the top, but I'd rather not be hit by a car.

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  17. This looks great and could be a lot of fun! I found this through a link on Facebook from iRun magazine (a Canadian running magazine). They are reflective iron-ons. There are a lot of designs to customize any kind of clothing. You can put stars or flowers down the leg of your tights or shorts, jacket, the possibilities are endless. And reasonably priced. Here is the link: https://www.iondesigns.ca/

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    1. What a great idea! I love the no-sew part, and these are so cute - thanks for the link!

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  18. What perfect timing seeing your post! My running buddy and I run in the dark 2 mornings a week and were just talking about buying something to wear so we won't get hit by a car! I love the little magnet lights but fear I'd forget to take them off. So now I'm off to Amazon to read about the knuckle lights!

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  19. Go for a bright jacket, not just a belt or straps. You need someone to see that you are the shape of an actual person, not just possibly a sign or guardrail, you know? I know my eyesight has gotten much worse in the dark as I have gotten older, and I can't be the only one! :)

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  20. just an fyi - that Nike jacket is now significantly cheaper - on sale AND you can find an additional 20% coupon code if you search for it...

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