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Fall is so beautiful for running and hiking, it can effectively disarm you from inherent dangers that come with the season. Early dusk means you can be difficult to spot from cars when crossing streets.

From a runner’s view, running at dusk along leafy boulevards or park trails presents potential danger of low branches that wouldn’t feel pleasant if it caught your face or body. Not finishing your hike before dusk can be even more dangerous.

Unstable terrain becomes more difficult to notice and more dangerous to navigate.  

Wildlife such as bears and cougars are aware that you are around and they don’t wear bells to help your cause. Once the sun disappears, dropping temperatures can create another set of problems.

Fall is fabulous for working out as long as you’re prepared.

Therefore, here are some safety tips for fall running:

  • Choosing the right gear is essential. Dress in layers of sweat-wicking long sleeve shirts and running jacket.
  • Prepare for unexpected injuries or exhaustion by having an extra garment for warmth.
  • Running caps or toques prevent your body heat from escaping through the top of your head.  On sunny days a cap provides shade for your eyes. Instead of glasses, you could wear your Proclear lenses to see better.
  • Get a small lightweight backpack for water, garment, dry socks, snack, and matches.
  • Wear a reflective vest and good gloves.  
  • The gear manufacturers are always looking to improve their products. If you’ve been using the same gear for three or four years, it’s a good idea to at least visit a few stores and see what’s out there.
  • Dressing right for the conditions will give you added confidence so you can focus on the important task of getting from A to B in comfort.

Gadgets and other details:

Carry your medical card with you in case something happens.

Carry a whistle with you to call for help and also to deal with that bear/cougar we were talking about earlier.  

Wear a headlamp as soon as it starts getting dark – always have one in your backpack.

Know your route beforehand to check for distance, water stops and so forth. Also, tell a friend or family where you will be running or hiking in case of emergency.

If you are traveling to a new city, check with the hotel staff for the best routes for safety.

Earphones – avoid wearing them so you can hear vehicles, bad dogs, scary people and hopefully, the wildlife, which would have to be having a bad day to be heard.  

Run against traffic to be able to see oncoming vehicles.

Wear passive lighting clothing or accessories that reflect when a light source shines on them.  Examples include reflective banding like the Nathan Reflective Snap Bands. Reflective overlays found on clothing like the Sugoi Zap Jacket.  

There are many options to choose from in the clothing line.  

Best bet is to wear a combination of active and passive lighting.  

Wear a headlamp and attach a blinking light on the back of your hat to be visible from both the front and back.  

Road shoes made with Gortex or similar lining will keep the feet warm and dry.  

Trail shoes made with more aggressive lugs on the outsole can provide more traction in snowy weather.

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