I rose early yesterday morning to run. This time of year it can be hard to do that. My wife had to leave by 7:00, which meant I had to get up, change quietly in the dark, stretch, run, and then be back in time to be in charge of the children before she split. Problem is, the sun doesn’t rise until about 7:30 these days.
It was, as you might guess, dark when I got up. I planned ahead, as I tend to do when I want to run early, by laying things out the night before. Changing and stretching and donning the reflector vest wasn’t too much of a chore. It was about 29 degrees outside, so I added gloves and a hat to my outfit.
It was dark but I had my headlamp. It is an LED headlamp and I have had it for a year or so. The thing is a winner. It is bright, easy to turn on and off with gloves and the batteries last forever. In fact, despite hundreds of hours of use, the batteries were the original ones. That, it turned out, was a mistake.
The stars were at their brightest. It was just before the sky got light but after many artificial lights had been turned off. Plus, the moon was down. So the stars stretched across the sky, the constellations chasing each other in their endless evening game. I was, although I have seen this many times, stunned. I do not see the night sky enough. Some people almost never see it. It makes me feel small in the scope of the universe, yet it also makes me feel a part of that universe. It isn’t a bad way to start the day.
As I ran in the dark, the sky gradually grew brighter. I ran without a light most of the time. In fact, what blinded me most to seeing my way was light. There are two street lamps on my route and both of them make it difficult to see, since they ruin my night vision and create a black hole on the far side of their glow. i wish they were not there. I can imagine why they were installed, as they are both next to barns. I don’t know why we need to burn electricity for them all night these days, however. It seems like that isn’t necessary. I sure wouldn’t want to be trying to get to sleep in one of the houses beneath them.
It was early enough that I actually passed no cars. That is rare. Typically I turn on my light so cars can see me better. I turned it on at a couple of key points to make sure that anyone out with an unleashed dog might see me, but not for cars. I also turned it on when I passed the street lamps. It did not, however, help me much.
The light produced by my headlamp was pretty much doodly squat. Twice I thought it was off and discovered it was on when I put my hand up to the bulb. The batteries, AAA, a year old and well-used, were at their end. That is pretty amazing if you ask me. Heck, even if you don’t ask me it is pretty amazing. Imagine if we switched our home light bulbs to LED bulbs. Forget those twisty fluorescent jobbers. LEDs would last even longer and use even less energy. One of these days they will be cheap enough.
As I got close to home the glow in the east was gathering. It was still dark but not as dark. The sunrise was not far off. I have not been running early lately. I finally am ready, physically, to get back to it. It isn’t easy. This is, after all, the darkest time of the year. But I will do it. If I want to run enough, I don’t have another time that will work.
Tomorrow I will go out early, but not as early as yesterday. I may just see the sunrise, and the early glow on the brown fields. On the other hand, I might just get rained on. Either way, I will get in some miles and feel good about it. And it will be a safer run now that I have a new set of batteries in my headlamp.
You didn’t say here what kind of headlamp (brand, model) you’re using. I’ve been using a cheap Energizer headlamp (it’s got two white LEDs and one red LED) for a couple of years outside early in the morning and after dark, for a total of a couple of hours a day, every day. LEDs are definitely easier on batteries than incandescent bulbs, but my batteries definitely don’t last as long as the ones in your post. I’ve got a new headlamp I’m trying out now (brand: Coast LED Lenser), which produces much more light than my old headlamp (it also cost much more than my old headlamp, which still works, btw), so I’m testing it out at different brightness levels (has a dimmer lever) to see how long the batteries last before it starts dimming visibly.
I use a Petzl Tikka Plus. I have used several kinds of headlamps over the years and this one is hands down the best I have had. It is lightweight, the batteries last forever, and plenty bright. It has three brightness settings and a flash setting. I haven’t used the flash setting for anything yet, especially for running, which might be tough–on off on off on off, step stop step stop step stop. That wouldn’t work for me.