SAN ANTONIO – With the Humana Rock ‘N' Roll races just days away, thousands of local runners are getting close to completing their training.
However, the time they have left to prepare for the 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon isn’t the only thing that is on the downward slope. The days themselves are also getting shorter as the Winter Solstice gets closer.
That has left many runners putting in their miles in the dark.
“A lot of times, due to life stuff, you just have to run when you can run. And sometimes that just happens to be when it's dark,” said Jim Hernandez, who plans to run the full marathon on Sunday.
Hernandez usually completes his training runs in the early mornings, before the sun comes up.
"I do like to run where it's lit up. Make sure I've got a lot of lights," Hernandez said.
His rules of the road may come in handy for others, especially those who usually run in the evenings. The time change has them running more and more without daylight lately.
“It’s up to me. It’s up to all of us to take precautions,” said Pat Brockman.
She and her husband, Bo, head up the Downtown Run Group, an organization of more than 100 running enthusiasts who meet twice per week to log miles together and offer encouragement and advice.
Bo Brockman said safety is a message he delivers to members regularly.
“Some of the precautions that you take when you’re running anyhow, you heighten those precautions when it’s dark,” he said.
He frequently reminds his fellow runners to wear clothing and accessories that help them stand out on the road, such as light colored tops, reflective gear, headlamps and flashing lights.
“Try to avoid isolated places,” he said. “Try to avoid routes that you don’t know.”
Pat Brockman said she has seen too many close calls for runners on the road, courtesy of distracted drivers.
“I see them looking at their phones,” she said. “I see them just not paying attention. I see them running a stop sign. "
Her husband said nearly every week, he hears about dangerous situations on the running course.
That’s why he encourages group members to be aware of their surroundings.
You take responsibility for your safety and not leave it all up to the other person,” Bo Brockman said.
San Antonio police offered safety reminders to runners and park users following the reported rape of a jogger in Hardberger Park.
Among them were some tips that also might benefit nighttime runners.
Police said you should avoid running alone. If you bring along a buddy, one of you will be able to call for help if you need it.
They urge people to stay aware and not tune out what’s happening around them by wearing headphones.
Police also advise runners to stick to the well-lighted areas, and wear reflective gear and lights.