Visibility is critical for winter running. With decreased daylight, runs that would happen in the daylight in the summer time are now happening in the dark. Snowbanks hide runners and some drivers aren’t expecting to see runners on the road in the middle of a snowstorm.
Types of visibility
There are two types of ways to be seen while running. Passive and Active. Passive visibility includes high visibility clothing, reflective vests, reflectors on shoes and clothing etc. Active visibility includes flashing lights and head lamps anything that actively flashes a light at traffic
When running during the day it is important to wear some type of passive visibility bright colored vest or hat anything to increase your visibility to drivers. It can be as simple as wearing a brightly colored fleece hat or gloves with reflective stripes.
Safety styles vest from various companies such as Nike and Brooks are great additions to the winter runner’s closet. The Brooks Essential vest comes in a bright green color great for daytime running and has plenty of reflective areas for lowlight conditions. It has been one of the most used pieces of winter running gear I own. Providing both increased visibility and warmth.
There are also reflective arm/leg bands which be added to a runners clothes to provide additional reflective surfaces. Road ID had a wide variety of high visibility belts and bands as well as reflective stickers to help turn any run in to a safer one.
Flashing lights add an extra layer of safety when running at night or at dusk hours. These lights allow drivers to see you before their headlights reflect off your passive visibility. Types of active visibility include flashing bike lights, flashlights, and headlamps. When running at dusk/dark hours it is highly recommended some type of active visibility is added to your clothing.
Buying a Triathlon race belt and adding flashing dog collars is an easy way to incorporate active visibility into your running. The silver or clear dog light provides the brightest light. When assembling your light belt place one dog collar on either side of your waist and put a bike light behind you. This gives you almost 360 degrees of active visibility when running if used with headlamp.
Here is a link to a short video showing the light belt in action:
http://youtu.be/23hOO3olNNY If you are prone to seizures don’t watch it there is a whole lot of flashing going on in the video.
LED headlamps are a great addition to low light running. They not only help to light the path in front of you, but they also will help to make you more visible to motorists. There are many types of headlamps available. Single led, multiple led, various degrees of brightness etc. There are are a few things to keep in mind when standing before the wall of flashlights.
Headlamp brightness is measured by lumens, the higher the lumens the brighter the headlamp. The downside to increased lumens is increased drain on the battery. You will go through a whole lot more batteries with brighter headlamps. Pick the brightest one avialable if you plan on running in the dark. The increased brightness will be appreciated when running down a dimly lit path.
When selecting a headlamp, pick one that had different settings such as low, medium and high. These headlamps will continue to operate when the battery gets weaker instead of shutting off abruptly as the one with only on/off settings do. As the battery gets weaker the headlamp will dim, but will continue to operate.
Track battery usage and remember about the battery life on the package. In your training log keep track of how long your battery has been used to help avoid running out of battery while on your run. The cold weather will cause the battery to not last as long so replace before you get to the maximum hours recommended. I will usually also keep a spare set of batteries in my pocket just in case I need to make a mid run change.