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Gear and Technology

What is a running belt?

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When you start out running, chances are you'll be able to enjoy the simplicity of lacing up your shoes and running a couple of miles from your doorstep. As you progress and running demands a bit more out of you, though, you'll find yourself needing to carry anything from your phone and a water bottle to a snack or light. When that time comes, you may want to invest in a running belt.

Right off the bat, the number one recommendation I'd make when choosing a running belt, regardless of what kind of belt you're shopping for, is to check for comfort. This means checking for rough seams that may cause friction and chafing around your waist and examining the belt for any excess drawstrings, zippers, or other more structured materials that may cause unnecessary friction. Try the belt on, and make sure it fits well - tight enough to stay snug when you add the weight of what you're carrying but not so tight that it becomes restrictive.

Going the distance

The main reason runners choose to wear a running belt is because they are running for a longer time/distance without the ability to make a pit stop to refuel. This is why you'll often see runners wearing a belt for a marathon but not the local 5K. Chances are, those marathon runners are storing gels, water, high-calorie bars, hydration powder, or any other nutritional supplement that will aid in getting them across the finish line.

Only you know how much nutrition you'll need to carry, so be sure to have an idea of what you'll be storing prior to shopping for your belt. I'd opt for something slightly too small rather than too big relative to what you need, as most belts are made from material that will stretch. A belt that is too big may sag and bounce around on your run.

Also worth considering if you're carrying nutrition or electronics, for that matter, is to seek out a belt that has waterproof material, especially where the belt sits against your skin. Sweat commonly absorbs through non-waterproof material and can soak your nutrition, making it near impossible to use, especially during a race. Obviously, too, a fully waterproof belt will protect your goods from any precipitation.

Out on the town

Another common time runners will reach for their belt is when they're traveling or need to bring keys, a hotel card, a credit card, pepper spray, or a phone. I've found a smaller, simple belt to be ideal for a situation like this. A smaller belt allows you to carry the essentials and nothing more.

Some other questions to consider include:

  • Does the belt have reflectivity for safety during low-light runs? Or can you attach a light to the belt?
  • Can you add water bottles to the belt should you decide to go for a longer run or run on a hot day?
  • Is the belt made well? There's nothing worse than a belt's elastic material stretching out after a month and becoming useless. Don't be afraid to spend a bit more to get a belt with great reviews.

Anything that can help your run be a more comfortable, enjoyable experience is something to consider, and a running belt is an awesome option to keep on hand. Finding the right accessory for your running needs and style can make all the difference.

Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.

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Written By
Tim Kelly

Marathon Runner & Coach

Tim Running

Ohio native that loves travel, gardening, and helping people do more with their running than they thought possible. 8+ years as a running coach. 12 years as a runner and cyclist.