Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Benefits of a Head Lamp

Let's say your season is over (or maybe it is just starting up again) and you just need to get in a workout. BUT, your job holds you captive till it is dark outside, forcing you to either suck it on the 'mill or become a weekend warrior and make up all your workouts on the weekends. But then you have this great idea that you'll wake up early and go for a morning run (brilliant!). You set out your stuff the night before, slap the alarm when it goes off the next morning, and get out the door only to find yourself enjoying the morning run. Then you declare, "morning runs are awesome, I should do this everyday!". So you set everything out again, only to find yourself hitting snooze all the way through that hour run you had planned for the morning.

Sound familiar? This happens to me all the time. I've learned from my mistakes though. Every once and a while, the morning workout is a good idea, but it cannot be trusted consistently. The bed is simply too warm and the pillow too soft to convince myself to get up early to get my workout in.

So, what do you do? Hit the 'mill? Become a weekend warrior?

Well, anyone who is continuing to workout this time of year surely knows that it gets dark early. Here are the 2 options I consider realistic:
1) Drag yourself to the gym and run like a little hamster on a treadmill
2) Continue to run outside, but in the darkness

Your choice - but being the sane person I am, I choose option #2. And here's why.

I present to you - The Head Lamp in all its glory!

I have been running with a headlamp for a few years now and I am no longer afraid of running in the darkness (yea, I said it - afraid...). In fact, I think I enjoy it more than running in the daytime. When it is dark, you have to pay closer attention to everything around you, like cracks in the trail, rocks, etc. Personally, I feel more focused on my body and its movement in the darkness. Things all appear more quiet and you can focus on yourself and just running. All of this is thanks to the head lamp, which shines a nice little 5 ft or so circle of light around me.

Headlamps come in all different shapes and sizes, but most of the lightweight ones give you enough light from their bright LEDs so you can find your way. The one I have has 3 lights (1 bright main light and 2 side lights to help with peripheral vision), similar to the one pictured.

I originally got my headlamp for just general use, but it has proved to be pretty effective for use while running. When it is on my head, I rarely feel it and it does not make any difference in my ability to run as I would in the day time. I also use it to help with setting up my transition area at triathlon races because it is frequently very dark for early races and some extra light goes a long way in eliminating anxiety on race day to get things set up properly.

***BONUS BENEFIT***
The one other significant race-related reason to go out and get yourself a head lamp: porta-potties! You know as well as I do that those early morning races do not provide significant lighting over the porta-pottie area. I don't know about you, but I prefer to know what is going on when I am in there and a head lamp can help you figure that out ;)

Happy running!
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