Jake Catterall

Running in the dark: tips, tricks and motivation

Lower light means less miles, right? Not so says endurance athlete and runner Jake Catterall.

BY: MARK COHEN • run • 20.09.2022

With daylight fading and winter around the corner, many runners start facing up to the fact that to get miles in, they’re going to have to run in the dark. Dismal to some, yet to others, late autumn and winter is a welcome reprieve from the relentlessness of running in the heat. A chance to set a PB, think about 2023 goals, or even tick a late season challenge.


So, how do you stay motivated to run in lower light? And just as importantly, how do you make sure your colder weather running gets done safely? We ask everyday athlete and runner Jake Catterall for his inputs – how he stays focused on running year-round.  


“Training doesn’t stop as long as you have goals in mind,” he says over email and while ramping up his muscular endurance training ahead of an 8-week stint in Svalbard – a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. “Sure, the early starts in the dark are less glamorous, but you will draw energy from training despite your environment. Ultimately the goal holds it all together. It keeps you motivated to get out whenever your schedule allows.”

Couple running reflective
Jake Catterall zeroweight reflective
Jake Catterall running
Jake Catterall running
Jake Catterall zeroweight reflective
Couple running reflective

What tips do you have for runners who still want to crack on in low light?

“Personally, I think it’s all about music. Keep the volume low and your awareness up. But you can make your runs feel like a party if you really get into a good mix. Music is a fantastic trigger for memory and running with it takes me back and forth to moments in my life, which helps pass the time. I try to switch it up as much as possible to keep it fresh.”

What are some of the tricks or kit you love and use? Favourite headlamps, running shoes, clothes or places you opt to run when the light fades?

“The outfit for me is always a long sleeve base layer with a windproof vest plus gloves. Just enough protection from the cold, but nothing too hot.”


“I think it's smart to get two types of shoes. A fast pair and a slow pair. The fast run is what I call the 'ego run.' Get on your fastest, most colourful kit and hit the session as hard as you can, all eyes on you. Now! Since you’ve got all your ego out of the way, you can effectively run slow. Regular slow runs are the key to improving your running, and I find this is the best way to keep pace at bay.”


For headlamps, check out the ultralight BioLite 200. This is a USB-chargeable, featherweight, fully adjustable headlamp that’s exceptionally good for running. While running with it on might not look that cool, aside from reflective apparel, it’s the best tip for keeping you safe in low light, when crossing the street or seeing footing when the light disappears. As for shoes, the HOKA Rincon 3 is an office favourite. The right mix of cushioning and speed. If you’re headed off road, check out the Supertrac 3 from Scott

couple running in the city
couple running in the city

How important is running year-round?

“Running year-round is understanding that your health is an ongoing and never-ending project. My personal view is that the fitter you are, the younger you remain. The humble run then becomes an answer to remaining young, fit, and healthy. It shouldn't be underestimated though. It requires equal measures of rest and strength training to be done injury free.”

Do you genuinely enjoy running and training in the dark? 

I get into my head a lot more on dark runs. My best ideas seem to come from running in general, but the night runs give me more chance to get introspective. The main drawback is the community seems to slow down in winter, so I would urge a social run maybe once a week to combat feeling alone out there.”

Check out ODLO’s Zeroweight running collection. High performance for running in low light. And keep up to date on Jake Catterall’s build towards an Antarctic crossing here


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