Running Through Sacramento in the Dark

By Amy Thoma

running in the darkI know that as a single female I’m not supposed to run by myself in the dark.  Really, I know. Especially not through the sinister grid that is midtown and east Sacramento.  But this time of year there is little choice for the serious runner—if I’m up early, it’s dark.  If I run after work, it’s dark.  And sometimes my evil training schedule calls for both.  So don’t tell my mom, boss or friends but here’s the deal—I run in the dark all the time.

Some suggestions to keep you safe and running…

1.  If you can handle running in circles like a hamster, McKinley Park is decently lit and there are people there all the time.  I’ve run there as early as 4:30 and as late as 9pm and never been alone.  It’s super boring, but it’s 1 mile around and gets the job done if you get the heebie jeebies.

2.  Land Park is creepy in the dark.  I don’t run there—it’s too big.  Also, stay away from the American River Parkway and the levee off of Sutterville.  I’ve run all those places in the dark and it didn’t feel safe.

3.  Running through Midtown and East Sac is actually a good option—there are delivery trucks and public transportation running which means it’s likely you’re not alone.

4.  Another great route option is to begin at McKinley, do a lap, run to Big Spoon on 36th and J, turn left at M Street and make your way through the Fab 40s and back.  Well-lit, pretty, wide, drinking fountains… what more can you ask for?

5.  Find a friend to run with.  If you don’t have any running friends, Fleet Feet has organized runs on Tuesday nights at 5:30.  Running with people is really fun, a great way to get faster and also happens to be safe.

6.  This is dorky, but a headlamp or flashlight will save you many spills.  I have a tiny Mag Light (2 AA battery sized) from Target and a Petzl headlamp from REI.

7.  Take your iPod off or keep it really, really low.  You need to hear cars, animals and scary folks at all times, but especially in the dark.

8.  I have pepper spray that clips on my shorts I got at Fleet Feet.  They also have reflective clothing (I’m all about being safe but oh hell no am I wearing a reflective vest!) and blinking lights you can attach to your clothes.

9.  If you get in good enough shape you can probably out run the bad guys.  I’m banking on that!

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  1. Jacqueline says

    These are great tips! I used to run around on the Midtown-East Sacramento grid when I lived downtown & it was fabulous, but don’t get lulled into a false sense of security. Please find a running buddy, or at least get a dog – that’s what I did. 🙂 Pepper spray is a good idea too. These are very pretty, upscale neighborhoods but scary things happen here too.

  2. Lesley Miller says

    Thanks for these great tips! I need to get a headlamp because I refuse to wear the reflective triangle vest too. I need to keep my eye out for you around McKinley and M St. I do a loop around both most weekday mornings…early! I wonder if we’ve seen each other before and didn’t know it?

  3. Amy Abrams says

    I also recommend highly reflective panels on both the front and back of your clothing. The strips of reflection on your shoes don’t do much. Here’s a brand I love:

    Stay safe girls!

  4. Katy Thoma says

    Well Amy Jane, it’s your mother here and you are so busted! Running in the dark? This is a TERRIBLE thing to do. PLEASE find someone to run with! You’re killin’ me!

  5. Ashley says

    Ooooooh, Amy! Busted by your mom!! LOL.

  6. Amy says

    Sorry mom! I mean, I don’t run in the dark… nope, never!

  7. BayGrrl says

    When did East Sacramento get to be sinister???

    I lived there for awhile (56th & J) about 4 years ago. I’ve been wanting to move back (preferably to the upper 30s or anywhere in the 40s-lower 50s)… but you’re not making that area sound very appealing!

  8. Cindy Boyd says

    Love it Amy! And love that your mom busted you (mine would do the same!!). You cracked me up with the vest comment…I’m right with you! I’ll be sure to translate these tips to DC, although, with the snow I’m inside on a treadmill for about a week.

  9. Amy says

    I was being a little sarcastic on the sinister part. I think it is very safe for the most part!

  10. Rebeckakd says

    Absolutely composed written content, Really enjoyed reading through.

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