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Tips for trail running in the woods at night

There is no doubt more and more people are attempting longer endurance races including up to 200 miles. With that distance comes many mental challenges, not the least of which involves running in the woods at night. If you have issues with this particular aspect of ultra trail running, you're not alone. Recently, a post on Reddit asked for tips on how to overcome nervousness and begin training for night trail runs. The responses were at times hilarious but also quite insightful. 

Here are the highlights:
  • Picture a witch in there and you run at a pretty good race tempo.
  • Don't look off the trail to see what is watching you :-)
  • I run in the dark with a Morakniv knife on my waist. You can get them for around $10 bucks on Amazon. It’s a great bushcraft knife that holds a nice edge and won’t break the bank if you lose it. I feel better than being empty-handed. (FYI, I’m a big burly bearded dude, lol)
  • Get a great headlamp like Petzl Nao.
  • When you are running "into the dark" it won't be as bad as starting a run in the dark - your eyes should adjust pretty well. 
  • To overcome the fear, just start with short trails in town, and wear a headlamp. It's fun when you get used to it, but only until you encounter a mountain lion I guess.
  • Bring a friend or a dog if you’re uncomfortable alone but once you’re feeling braver, try some night runs on your own since you very well might be alone on race day.
  • Consider turning on FindMyIphone or another location tracker if there’s someone you trust back home.
  • Stay hydrated and have a small snack before you go. That’ll remove barriers like low blood sugar to decision making.
  • Slow down and every now and again, turn your light off and enjoy the darkness.
  • To the point about it being spooky, I totally agree. Just something to push through and get used to. I’ve also found that listening to trve kvlt black metal like Burzum gets me in the mood on a dark trail. Sometimes I like to pretend I’m a black wizard wandering the swamps and casting spells.

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