Guidelines for runners in the twi-night hours

With daylight hours scarce, night -- or at least twilight -- running is probably unavoidable for most of us. Here are a few practical tips to consider if you find yourself running after sunset:

Reflector tape: Few runners where I now live (Atlanta) wear it, but more should, I bought a strip of reflective material (about two inches wide) at a running store -- it wasn't cheap -- and wear it across the front of my shirt. That helps drivers and cyclists see me coming since I usually run facing the traffic. Some runners wear a kind of reflective vest, which is easier to see but more cumbersome. (It might provide added winter warmth, though.)

Facing and traffic. If you can't run on sidewalks (and I don't advise sidewalks at night except where they are unusually flat and well), run as close to the curb as possible, facing the traffic. Always give drivers the right of way. That sounds elementary, but I know a few runners who assume drivers will yield to them at intersections. Watch cars turning right from a side street and heading toward you. The drivers are probably looking just to the left and may not see you.

Watch for potholes. Residents of many cities know the value of such warning. Try to limit night running to routes you are very familiar with from your daytime runs. If you find yourself in the dark between street lights, slow down considerably. Hitting a hidden stone or stick at night at good pace can be troublesome.

Since this is the last column in this series of 12, I can't avoid re-mentioning something: perspective. Running, of most of us, is only part of life. There is no need to let it dominate our thinking, our talk, our time. and it's supposed to be fun. (Even hard workouts are rewarding.) So, as long as the fun lasts, there's no way weather, location, time, or age can spoil the joy of running.

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