Why I started taking my smartphone for running

Time to use technology to my advantage

Confident sportswoman listening music through in-ear headphones while jogging on bridge in city
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While many people like to listen to music or podcasts and track all their stats when they run, I prefer to run semi-naked, with only my running watch wrapped around my wrist. This allows me to enjoy the exercise better and helps me connect with my surroundings more. However, recently, I started taking my smartphone with me to take pictures and videos of things I've seen.

These aren't for social media. No one needs to see another #sunriserun post or, worse still, a sweaty post-run selfie. People who know me know that I run and exercise, and I feel no need to project the 'I'm an active person' image on social media. No, I take photos of stuff to share with my wife when I get home from a run.

Runners know running is the best way to explore an area, which is why I love going for a quick one when I'm on holiday. You get to see loads of things within a shorter space of time if you are walking. It's an excellent way to have a quick scan of an area and relay it back to your friends and family, who are often grateful for given directions.

Smartphone lovin'

I usually carry my smartphone with me on runs when I'm abroad for safety reasons, and I often snap photos of points of interest along the way. It makes sense when you're on holiday to take pictures, right? But the more I run on my home turf, the more I realise that people around me are equally as interested in my local adventures as when we're abroad.

For example, I went for a 10k run the other day, and since I didn't have any running headphones to test, I decided to leave the phone behind. (I was trying a new pair of running shoes, but that's usually the case when running.) I regretted this decision, as there were a bunch of things I wish I could've recorded, including an art exhibition on the seafront, the building of a motocross track on the beach, a lovely dog I met, and a local scarecrow trail I stumbled upon at the midpoint of my run.

My wife isn't a runner, but she likes to know what's going on, so needless to say, she was thrilled to hear about my adventures. Two days later, she accompanied me on the run (her on the bike, me running) to check out the scarecrow festival/trail, but sadly, it was all gone by then. Wish I had snapped some pictures of that incredible Tim Peake astronaut scarecrow on Sunday!

Camelbak Ultra™ Belt 2.5L with 500ml Quick Stow™ Flask

(Image credit: Camelbak)

I forgot to mention earlier, but the other reason I don't carry smartphones on runs is that I despise armband phone holders. Smartphones are bulky, and you get sweaty and uncomfortable under those plastic things. I don't like holding the phone in my hand as I run, either.

I was sent the Camelbak Ultra Belt 2.5L with 500ml Quick Stow Flask (external link) before I went to Mongolia to complete the Mongol 100 ultramarathon, and I've been using it ever since to carry bits and bobs with me. My short running shorts don't often have pockets, and I like the Ultra Belt as it allows me to store items without them flapping around my thighs.

One thing is for sure: I'll pack my smartphone before heading out for a run next time. You never know what magical moment I might miss if I didn't!

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.