Time stops when we run

What actually happens to our senses when we walk in the dark?

Why you can hear and smell better when walking in the dark. And looks even better.

Zombies, vampires and other night owls have always known: the night is the nicer day. When the days get shorter and the time for training melts away around work and family, the hobby runner inevitably finds himself in the dark. But anyone who has already tried it knows the fascination: You not only train your muscles, but also your senses. This is confirmed by Mahdi Sareban, a specialist in cardiology and sports medicine in Salzburg and a top runner himself. "The reduced optical sensory stimuli make it easier for you to devote yourself to your thoughts."

THE EYES
In big cities you are exposed to "light pollution". There is only darkness away from street lights, neon signs and car headlights. Once the eyes have got used to the supposed darkness, it is amazing how much you can see. The runner is highly concentrated to recognize the smallest obstacles and movements. "The eye reacts quickly to darkness with a dilated pupil," explains Sareban, "with the aim of depicting objects as sharply as possible and being able to better recognize the dangers of the environment." A bonus: familiar stretches have a completely different effect and create new stimuli.

THE NOSE
If the eye fails as first aid in terms of orientation, the olfactory organ sets itself in scene better and surprises with new scents: the asphalt (dry / wet), the trees, every forest smells different, the firewood in the neighbor's stove, the burnt rubber from the howling moped rear tires of the Snapchat generation, the stable, the steelworks and the smell from the pizzeria. "The athlete simply needs this feeling of fresh air," says Martin Niggas (Luma Active). “The competitor is the treadmill in the air-conditioned gym. But the outdoor experience is much stronger there. "

THE EARS
The ears are also subject to constant eavesdropping. "If the dilation of the pupil does not lead to any improvement, the brain tries to sharpen other senses and especially the hearing by changing the interconnections between the sensory organs," says the doctor Sareban. “The brain is much more plastic than many think. As soon as it realizes that it could be important for the maintenance of important life functions, it adapts. "
Every bark of a dog alarms the senses, every rustling in the bushes forms in the brain into the image of a rushing wild boar. You hear everything, you want to survive. You can hear planes, screeching garden doors, roaring TV boxes. Your own panting anyway.

THE FEET
Soles and feet also line up with the sense organs. The running shoes scan the floor like scanners. With the first snow, the first frozen paintwork and the slippery zebra crossings at the latest, you are grateful for well-trained sensors. Stumbling blocks are overcome, a sense of balance and joints are better trained. This is confirmed by running trainer Markus Schoiswohl, who is offering workshops for night trail running across Austria with Salomon (from October 13th): “Best times and top speeds are not in the foreground,” he says especially what's going on under the feet. ”Schoiswohl also emphasizes the new strength of all the senses. “You build up more trust in your abilities and in your shoes. When you run in the dark you are automatically more alert and careful. "

With all their weakness for the dark, running zombies shouldn't forget: nothing can replace sunlight. Or as the sports doctor Sareban says about “light exposure”: “If you run early in the morning in winter and work longer, you don't have enough time in daylight, which is necessary for the formation of vitamin D.” In Vienna, some provide a lot of light Ladies who organize so-called "flash runs" with colorful glow sticks. “Flashruns are a cool change,” say the organizers “Lena & Barbara” from the Wien-Mitte blog. “The more reflectors and lights, the better. Colorful lights simply put you in a good mood and add variety. "

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