High-Visibility Running Apparel for Beginners
In this article we discuss the benefits of high-visibility clothing and what it has to offer the dedicated runner…
One of the first rules of outdoor pursuits, such as rock climbing, skiing and cross country running, isn’t make sure you smash your personal best time. No, it’s a bit more ordinary than that, but it’s a million times more important, and without doubt you’ve definitely heard it before. What is it? It’s make sure you get home safely to your family, of course.
When darkness crosses paths with your running schedule that sentence becomes a mantra. Even the most seasoned of sporting loved ones dread a knock on the door at the wrong time. While you are out running these things don’t cross your mind, but to the wife or husband left at home cooking tea, they know what time you are due back and any earlier could mean there is something wrong. To them an early call might mean a visit to hospital, the police station and for some poor souls the morgue.
The runner will always laugh such things off. “Don’t be silly, man.” That’s what we do – joke about such things. It’s what we’re supposed to do isn’t it? Man up and laugh it off.
Unfortunately there are people who don’t come home. People who are out running after work, getting fitter, slimmer, faster and stronger… Then it all comes to an end, simply because a driver didn’t see them running by the side of the road.
There was once an old television advert for cyclists, but the message is the same for runners: stay safe and be seen. Now we’re in the 21st century, we have high-visibility clothing to give us an advantage in order to stay out of harms way. It’s never been easier to stay safe, all we have to do is wear the clothing.
Neon yellow has a big mouth – it loves shouting at sleepy drivers: “Don’t run me over!”
How to Stay Safe by Wearing High-Visibility Clothing
Now we’ve emphasised just how important it is to stand out in the dark, as well as any other low-light scenario and not just night time, but dusk, dawn, winter time and even certain indoor situations. It’s better to be too bright than not bright enough. What you need to do first of all is think about what type of running you will be doing in low light, then you can plan ahead and decide on your equipment in advance. When the autumn comes and the nights start pulling in, you will have your high-viz apparel ready to throw on.
One of the starting points is a high-visibility over vest, or viz-vest, which is exactly the same as what construction workers wear at work. They have to wear them during the daytime hours; as a runner you should take a leaf out of their book and practice on been seen.
Wearing brighter clothes ensures you stand out and not only make your own life safer, but you are making it better for the drivers you pass on the road as well.
In an accident the driver is more likely to come out alive, but it goes without saying that it will ruin a person’s life if they crash into and kill someone.
What if they were to have the misfortune of crippling someone? They could end up in prison on a manslaughter charge and the feelings of guilt must wreck a person inside, unless they are some sicko that gets off on the misery of others. Regardless, you need to prepare for the worst case scenario. Being seen is the least you should prepare for when you walk out of your front door.
Read our guide on Running to Lose Weight.
What Type of High-Viz Clothing Should I Wear?
There are endless styles of bright clothing to choose from in a modern running store. You don’t have to go crazy and come out looking like you’ve done a time-warp into the 80s with inspiration from a Lycra fuelled Madonna concert, leg-warmers and all!
Let’s have a look at the most popular and sensible options… to stay warm, dry and visible you will need:
- High-viz long-sleeved jacket or gilet.
- High-viz running tights or shorts.
- High-viz baseball cap or woolly hat.
- High-viz gloves (full or fingerless.)
- High-viz T-shirt or vest.
- High-viz running shoes.
Remember, you don’t need to have everything in fluorescent yellow or orange, but the more you have the better because you can mix and match with regular black and grey depending on the time of year. In the middle of winter, you won’t need to take your jacket off so you can wear any colour underneath. If you go running in the autumn, though, there might be a chance that you overheat and want to take your jacket off, so on this occasion you would need to have a high-visibility vest or T-Shirt underneath your jacket.
Yellow is our preferred choice, as it is brighter and you will find a better choice in yellow than orange.
How to Safely Walk Along a Road in the Dark
In an ideal situation, plan your route so at the very most all you have to do is cross a busy road rather than walk along it. However, if this is not possible for whatever reason, you should walk towards the flow of traffic. This might sound counter-intuitive, but the reason being is that you can make eye contact with the drivers, if necessary, and if not at least you can see if the driver has seen you and is coming towards you, as in going to crash. You will have enough time to jump in the hedge or out of harms way.
It goes without saying that you haven’t got eyes in the back of your head and can’t possibly see behind you, even though you can hear cars, unless you look round. This isn’t practical and ultimately isn’t safe. Always walk towards the traffic, unless it genuinely isn’t possible to do so. If this is the case, then try and plot a different route or pass this section as quickly as possible.
Don’t ever take children on a night-time route that has any roads on it. Children get panicked easily and scared especially in the dark. The last thing you need is screaming kids in a dangerous situation, as it is a recipe for disaster.
Where to Buy High-Viz Running Apparel?
As always, if it’s your first time buying sports-specific clothing or you are unsure about your size, then pop into your local specialised running store and try the clothing on. This way you can be sure you are getting the best possible fit. You will also be able to pick the sales assistant’s brains with any questions you may have.
Alternatively, if you know your size and have been there got the T-shirt, as the saying goes, and you are confident buying online, Amazon is a great place to start if you wish to buy with peace of mind. They are world-class at selling online and delivering products. Everyone is confident buying from Amazon; they aren’t the number one retailer in the world for nothing!
Do your research before you splash the cash. Make sure you check out the following before the money leaves your bank account.
- Look on the brand’s website to read up on the specification.
- Shop about for prices. See who does the cheapest, but take into consideration the whole price including delivery and other fees.
- See what reviews people are leaving – are people happy with their purchase after a few months or so?
- Is there a new model about to come out and replace the current version? If so you might get a good deal or be able to haggle the price downwards? Don’t be shy about arguing politely when it comes to price.
- If you are desperate and need to go running while staying safe in a rush, then go to your local builder’s merchant and buy a high-viz vest that they do in either yellow or orange. That will ensure you are seen and is better than nothing at all, as well as being cheap and light. Sometimes in life you have to improvise. At least you will be able to check out the high-viz lifestyle and see if it’s suitable for your needs.
What Other High-Visibility Options are There?
As well as super-bright clothing that you will have seen runners wear, there are plenty of less-intrusive options that might be of interest to you. How about high-viz arm bands or running lights that you can wear in various places? You can get lights/torches that clip on to a headband a bit like a miner’s lamp. They aren’t that bright because they need to be light enough to wear on your head without straining your neck muscles.
When the daylight hours are severely reduced, running lights are a great way to ensure you can still train. They are an essential bit of kit on the ultra-endurance running scene. Runners swear by their effectiveness when they are fell running and other potentially dangerous environments like mountain running, trail runs, overnight races and similar events that put on night time races or racing that crosses into darkness from daylight to night time.
It’s a well-known government statistic that more pedestrians are killed between 6 and 9 pm than at any other time in the day. This three-hour period is the most dangerous, because it is when people are coming home from work and are getting accustomed to the dark. Before this time then it’s obviously light and much safer, plus when it is purely dark people are prepared for things much better. It is often the transition from light to dark that catches people out more. Runners who have perhaps stayed out a bit longer and underestimated how many daylight hours they have left or drivers whose eyesight might not be as good as they think. The dangers are everywhere, without trying to sound overly dramatic, it is the truth so please be aware of the dangers lurking in the shadows!
Top Tips for Staying Safe in the Dark
- Wear appropriate high-visibility clothing.
- Plan the safest route possible.
- Leave your headphones at home so you can hear properly.
- Wear a running light/head lamp.
- Try and run on the sidewalk/footpath rather than road.
Choosing the Best Running Light/Head Lamp
For running on footpaths, trails or other well-worn and relatively safe paths at night, you can get away with a running lamp that is rated at 100 lumens. If you are going on rougher terrain, trail running, fell runs or cross country routes, then you will be better off from a safety viewpoint and ease of use by going for an output of 300 lumens. This will give you a much clearer view of the trail in front and also ensure that people can see you well in advance. You will need a bigger battery, but it will be worth it.
The price of a good quality running light is always money well spent. Not only will it make your running experience far more enjoyable, but it will ensure that you stay injury free and come home safe at night. Imagine if you had to have a month off work due to a fall. That would be way more money out of your bank than what a decent running light will skim off your bank balance.
What About a Light Vest or Belt?
Technology these days is moving on at a rapid-fire rate and such things like light vests are coming out, which might sound like they are off your child’s X Box game, but they are definitely as real as a broken nose that you can claim for free, if you trip over on your midnight run.
Heck, technology is everywhere. You can even get a Camelback style drink vessel which includes a light so you can kill two birds with one stone. It all depends on how far you want to go with the credit card.
If you’re unsure or not that fussed, why not stick to the midway price point, then you know you are getting quality without being silly. More often than not once you go past the middle of the field, you end up paying a lot more for only a slight improvement, whereas the mid-range stuff is usually a hell of a lot better than budget gear.
Five More Runner’s Reads
- Buying Running Shoes
- Running to Lose Weight
- Treadmill Running Basics
- Jogging Tips for Beginners
- Running Nutrition
We hope you have learned enough to go out and treat yourself to some high-viz, high-tech apparel. Let us know how you get on in the comments below and don’t forget to mention if you have any tips or advice you wish to pass on.
Until next time, stay safe, stay injury free and most of all – enjoy your running!