The ultra-runners in Team Petzl demo the new NAO headlamp, and add their tips how how to dive into the darkness.
Most 100km ultras will involve some running in the dark, unless you're of Kilian & Co's calibre. I love running in the dark, but I have to admit it's been a while. My standard ultra kit consists of two Petzl Tikka Plus2 headlamps (lightweight, with a 70 lumen beam) and a Petzl E+Lite for emergencies. I've been looking for a single headlamp with a minimum 100 lumen output, but most of them come with a heavy battery pack or an equally heavy price tag. Here's hoping Petzl's new offering of the NAO with Reactive Lighting Technology is portable AND affordable.
Running in the dark is easier mentally, your horizons are reduced and your concentration focuses more on the next 3 metres rather than the big picture. If you haven't done it before, you're in for a treat! Having reduced visibility tends to heighten your other senses in compensation, and it's almost a surreal experience, you become aware of things around you that wouldn't normally be noticed on a daylight run. If you're running alone, the quiet and solitude is a great time to just connect with the trail and your running, everything distilled into the 3 metre beam in front of you.
From the video, here's some tips and insights from the pros on night running:
1. If it's your first time night running, train on a familiar or comfortable trail, preferably with a group. this enables you to try out different headlamps and lighting configurations, as well as having safety in numbers.
2. Find out what works best for you and take time to adjust. A headlamp isn't restricted to being worn on the head, and runners sometimes carry a torch in hand or attach their lights to their shoulder or waist. Put your beam in a position that you feel most comfortable with when running. Remember that light cast from eye-level (i.e. headlamp positioned on forehead) will cast very little shadow. As such, your depth perception is reduced dramatically and you will have to train your eyes to pick up the nuances of the trail.
3. Don't focus on a single point. Use your other senses to help build a more complete picture of your surroundings, and pay attention to what is around.
4. Switch from looking directly in front of you to further ahead, and occasionally look side to side as well to gain a better awareness of your environment.
5. Be organised with spare batteries and emergency backup lights. Cold weather reduces battery life, so be prepared.
6. Three key factors to consider when choosing a headlamp - performance (illumination and beam width), weight and reliability.
7. Switch to a lower beam when running uphill to save on battery power. Widen your beam on descents and managed burn time so you get the most out of your battery life.
Further information on NAO's new Reactive Lighting Technology can be found at http://www.petzl.com/NAO