The dark season is creeping up fast here in Alaska. It's not getting light in the morning now until about 8:00, and by about 5:30 in the afternoon it's mostly dark. I like daylight. But I actually really like running in the dark.
One of my favorite things about 100 mile races is that you are out for so long that you get a full cycle of darkness, into daylight, and back into darkness. I love the transition points. Dawn and dusk. When I've been running all day and then darkness sets in I feel almost like I'm running in a new dimension. In the daylight I notice myself running over the landscape, but once darkness sets in and I can't see as well I begin to feel like I can't tell where my body ends and the trail begins. It becomes a feeling of connectedness to the land and I feel like I'm being pulled along by the landscape rather than running over the landscape (imagine the moving walkways at airports).
I also really like running in the dark without my headlamp on. It's amazing to me sometimes how well I can "feel" the trail. It forces you to run with very relaxed legs, ready to absorb the nuances of any obstacles you might step on. I think this teaches us to be better runners even when we can see the trail just fine. Sometimes when I'm really "feeling" the trail I can run just as fast without my headlamp on as I can with it on. Give it a try the next time you're running in the dark. It's not as difficult as it sounds.