Summer in Metro Manila is anything but pleasing for running—it’s hot and humid. Not only do you need to worry about your run you also have to think of protecting yourself from the sun so here comes running extra early, putting on sunblocks, wearing protective clothing like visors or caps, sunglasses, etc. I personally don’t like putting on sunblocks because I tan very easily, so to make summer running simpler I decided to try running at night.
For my first night road run I decided to do it starting from the office towards BHS via C5—route that I took a few days ago. Time for me was very limited for this run so I had to pick a route that would be both pleasing and would fit the time constraints so BHS was the perfect “target” for me. I’ve never tried running on the road at night so it’s another adventure run for me.
Running at night poses a lot of potential dangers, primarily because it’s dark. You can’t really see much at night so you have to be very wary of the surface you’re running onto. A quick reflex and awareness of the surrounding environment is a need. My first challenges were actually the trees that line up Julia Vargas Ave.—their branches lie low so you have to duck, a lot. Along C5 you’d have to carefully watch where you step because there are a lot of wet slippery areas here, not to mention zigzagging through the obstacles keeping in mind that you’re running alongside a road filled with vehicles.
One of the most difficult parts of running at night was the crazy volume of vehicles on the road. In fact traffic was very slow along C5 that my running pace was actually faster than that of the traffic (how many times do you get to overtake cars while running?). Health-wise this too is dangerous—the level of smog was just unbearable. Mind you, I was keeping my heart-rate and pace at a level that I don’t need to breathe through my mouth the whole time I was running J. Vargas Ave. and C5.
I originally planned on running C5 up until SLEX but the smog was just unbearable—a breath-taking route indeed, so when I arrived at Market! Market! I just had to enter Bonifacio Global City where this was no longer an issue.
Running within Global City felt like an oasis from the smog. It’s always nice to run here, day or night, and chances are you’d bump into some fellow runners en route. I just noticed that many traffic lights don’t work properly so once again it’s up to your judgment call when to cross the street.
Since my route was unintentionally cut short I had to find a route that would make up for it but at the same time keep it interesting so I decided to once again challenge McKinley Hill. This area was where I made my fastest pace (03:04 min/km) because of the downhill and some of my slowest pace because of the uphill. It’s always fun for me to challenge this area because I always feel like I have a score to settle here, hehe.
Because of my time constraints I headed off towards BHS after McKinley Hill but as expected I was a bit short of my target of at least 16K for this run I had to make one and a half outer loop run on BHS ending just across R.O.X. with a final distance of 16.51K.
Two sides of the road aren’t equal
Oftentimes when running along a road you have to pick which side is best for you to run. Many would say counter-flow is best but for my experiences with roads so far I’d say it depends. The two sides of the road often differ, sometimes worlds apart, like C5. In the area that crosses the Pasig River, the south-bound sidewalk took me under the bridge so I had to climb a very high staircase just to get back to the bridge, whereas the north-bound sidewalk has direct access to the bridge. As a recommendation, find a side you’re most familiar or feel more comfortable with. If you’re running on a side with ample space to run it wouldn’t matter whether you’re run along or against traffic. Just keep in mind that here in the Philippines pedestrians give way to motorists (not the other way around as it should be) so always watch out for those intersections.
Running at night surely is a different experience. The good part is that you don’t have to worry about sunburn and the temperature tends to cool down as the night progress. The bad part is that it’s much more dangerous to run at night due to the volume of people and vehicles on the road. There are times that you’re running blind because an area is a bit dark, or if you’re running against traffic because of the headlights of incoming vehicles. If you’re running along with traffic there’s also the risk of not being seen by fast moving vehicles especially if you don’t have those blinkers that bikers usually carry at night. Then there’s also the ridiculous amount of smog. I can’t really say that running at night is better or worse than running during daytime—it’s for me to know and for you to find out!