It's coming to that time of year again when the nights are getting darker and wetter, training feels tougher, it feels harder to get out the door. But the dark and long nights doesn't mean it's time to stop training. The dark nights give an opportunity. To push yourself when you normally wouldn't, to get out the door when the weather is manky, and best of all - get out and explore those streets and trails in the darkness and see how different they feel.
Trail running at night is a full different experience than tackling the trails in the daylight hours. Apart from the short shorts and the trail shoes required - the next obvious choice of required kit is a head torch.
Running and chasing the illuminated beam in front of you is something worth doing - have a look and see what is available;
At the budget end of the market is the Petzl Tikkina Head lamp.
This is more designed for walking/hiking rather than full on trail running and is more 'be seen' rather than see where you are going in complete darkness through the woods. It does still have a decent light output of 250 lumens, so should you venture out of the street lights this should be enough to keep the pavements illuminated for you to keep your footing. This is powered by 3 x AAAs, rather than rechargeable and currently on the cheaper end of the price range, and weighs in at
The Petzl Actik Core is slightly different - it uses rechargeable batteries and comes in much brighter (and dearer) at 450 lumens. This is far better suited to trail running in the darkness, and has an additional safety feature of a reflective headband allowing you to be spotted easier. If other sports tickle your fancy as well other than running - this is compatible with other accessories to mount it to a bike or helmet. This has various brightness levels which you can adjust as you go, meaning you can preserve the battery life more if you are going to be out for an extended period.
The Petzl Swift RL comes in slightly more expensive again - however again boasts a much brighter beam - up to 900 lumens. Lumens aren't always the deciding factor in headtorches - but this is more than enough to illuminate the trails while you are running full pelt through the woods. Rechargeable, only 100g so you'll feel limited movement when it's on, it's comfy enough to wear for long periods. This also has a cool feature - it reacts to the light around you and auto adjusts the brightness, allowing the battery to be preserved, meaning when you run into the street lights it auto dims, and auto brightens once you hit the dark trails again. This is weather resistant, allowing it to stand up to the Scottish weather.
There are of course so many more out there, that are well reviewed - such as Silva Trail Speed - which gives more lumens, a portable battery that can be attached and used while running, so it is worth having a look about and see what style suits your needs. If you fancy sticking to Petzl brand and have a bit more cash to spare - the Petzl Nao+ is worth a look also. I've simply used Petzl since I started out, I've found them reliable and the torches linked above I've used over the previous years.
Whatever you choose - it'll open up a whole new world of winter running for you and allow you to run and explore places you would previously avoid in the dark.
Winter is another opportunity to push those boundaries, and I promise you'll see a different side to the trails than those summer months. Plus it might come in handy for the upcoming Run Rhaw events...