Brooks has launched its new Run Visible collection, which includes fluorescent and reflective shoes; but although bright apparel gives me more visibility as I run in the dark, I still don't feel comfortable running on my own at night.
If you're on the lookout for the best running shoes, especially in the winter months in the US and Europe, opting for shoes or running gear with reflective technology means you'll be more visible to passing traffic and other runners.
Nothing is better than going out for a run after work to clear my mind, or even running home from the office – doubling up my commute home as my exercise for the day, but I'll only ever do this on lighter evenings unless I have a running buddy, or I join a running group.
Brooks' new Run Visible collection includes its Glycerin and Ghost shoes, as well as a selection of fluorescent tights and jackets. The new line features the brand's 3M™ Scotchlite™ carbon black reflectivity material and fluorescent details, which allow you to be seen by a moving vehicle from 600 feet away.
Other notable brands that have recently launched reflective shoes include Saucony and Under Armour. Saucony's Vizipro collection, which includes the colorful Endorphin Pro 2, includes reflective details as well as bright neon colors. Under Armour's HOVR™ Phantom 3 Reflect Running Shoes also benefit from midsoles and laces.
I really appreciate how sportswear brands are thinking about our safety when we're running at night. I’ve worn my Glycerin shoes and tights after dark, and they give me the confidence that passing traffic can see me, while friends have commented on how brightly I'm dressed. But are visible clothing and shoes enough for women who want to run at night, solo?
Research by Brooks into what stopped both men and women from running in the dark showed that 74% of runners would run at night more often if they had the right gear, allowing traffic to spot them. However, over half (56%) of runners also said they were afraid for their own safety when running in the evening.
Even when it comes to running routes I’m familiar with, when the sun goes down comes the unknown – and as a woman, these familiar routes feel dangerous. Last year another survey of over 2,000 runners by Runners' World revealed that 60% of women said they had been harassed when running, and in the same survey, only 8% of women said they would run in the dark.
Reflective material on running gear is definitely a step in the right direction – but I'd love to see fitness tech companies also taking more responsibility for our safety.
Some fitness tech companies are already thinking about safety – Garmin has just released its SOS device, which could be a lifesaver when you don't have any cell coverage, while its Forerunner 45S GPS Running Watch benefits from a live tracker that shows friends where you are.
Some of the best smartwatches, including the new Google Pixel Watch, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, have SOS features which allow you to press a button to contact emergency services if you feel unsafe. But I'd love to see other companies, such as Fitbit, which currently doesn't have any live tracking or SOS alarms on its watches, making these features a priority.
I wear a Fitbit Versa to track my running, and having the added security of knowing I could press an SOS alarm, or inform contacts of my live route, would give me peace of mind, even before I start to lace up my trainers. Maybe I'll consider running on my own at night one day – but for now, I either need to invest in a safer smartwatch, or continue to run with friends at night.
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Sarah is a freelance writer - writing across titles including Woman&Home, Fit&Well, TechRadar, the Independent and the BBC. She covers a variety of subjects, including trends in beauty, business and wellness - but her biggest passions are travel and fitness. She can normally be found trying out the latest fitness class or on a plane to an exotic destination. While she loves to combine the two - signing up to do hiking holidays in LA, intense boot camps in Bali - last year she went on her dream activity holiday: paddleboarding around deserted islands in Croatia.