What’s it like running with a head torch? Can you get an impression by asking others? Reading blogs? Running with someone with a head torch? I don’t think so. For me it’s one of the many things in life that you can only appreciate once you’ve tried.
I’ve accidentally ended up running in the dark a few times and resolutely hated it, it was disorientating, frightening and on one occasion ended in tears. So much so I just avoid running in the dark, timing runs to hit daylight or running on lit roads only.
But this left me feeling like a bit of a wimp, or a cowardly lion if you prefer, and I decided it was time to give running with a head torch a go. Many friends love their head torch runs and as I was visiting Derbyshire, over Christmas, the darkest time of the year, the time had finally come.
The image above shows you my limited view; darkness and a small pool of light jiggling about as I ran. Luckily the route I planned was mixed, through a lit village, down an unlit lane into the dark Chatsworth Park. As a darkness-hater I ran early in the morning, knowing that things could only get better, that the light would come. I hoped to see dawn break above Chatsworth House in the middle of my run, but got there a little early.
As the dawn began to paint the world in shades on monochrome above and below me, I looked through this archway at the beautiful Christmas tree lights and was filled with warmth. Head torch still on, but the light seeping into the world more and more every second, I set off on my return journey. The growing colours in the world as the sun peeped above the horizon under the clouds gave me more and more confidence with each step and the last few kilometres I felt myself again. Head Torch off, just enjoying the emptiness.
We were past the shortest day and I timed my run twenty minutes later the next day in order to explore the grounds of Chatsworth a bit more, I enjoyed running in the dawn-light (opposite of twilight?) and only had to use the head torch for the first, paved stage of my run.
Over the week I took my head torch out one more time and it didn’t get any easier, I still felt alone, separated from the world, unsteady on my feet and a little scared. The head torch seemed set to go in the box of things I’d tried and didn’t like.
But things may not be as the seem, I ran with Cat this week and her super power ultra head torch, which was a completely different experience. We ran next to each other, one pool of head torch light, next to the other except mine disappeared, Cat’s torch lit up the world around us. Giving us plenty of vision, because the lit area was bigger it seemed less jiggly, you could see your feet, the path ahead and some things in the peripheries easily.
I’ll be taking up some of your recommendations and investing in a head torch with a wider field of vision before writing night running off completely, but I don’t think I’ll ever be in a 24 hour relay or night race. Bribe me with a dawn or sunrise though and I’ll be slipping on a powerful head torch and reciting Florence and The Machine to myself until I get to views like this….