If you’ve ever watched an elite running competition, you’ve likely seen some of the fastest runners sprinting to the finish line with a chain flying around their neck. To the viewer, it may seem like an impractical sartorial choice, so why do they do it?
We’ll look at a few reasons why runners choose to wear necklaces while they race and what you should consider if you want to try it yourself.
Why Do Athletes Wear Necklaces?
Wearing a necklace while running may not be the most comfortable choice for all runners. On sunny days, the metal can get hot to the touch and cold days aren’t much better (few people want to feel the weight of frozen metal against their skin).
But there are some interesting reasons why some athletes choose to accessorize. Different sports will have different preferences when it comes to the jewelers they choose to wear. Baseball, for example, is full of athletes who wear flashy gold chain necklaces. There are golf stars who wear tennis necklaces and basketball players who rock diamond earrings.
Many professional sports don’t have complete bans on wearing jewelry, so a lot of trends happen by trial and error (sometimes athletes face fines or disqualification).
Wearing a necklace while running can be a particularly notable choice because it is a sport that often prioritizes lightweight materials and state-of-the-art gear. In that sense, it can be seen as a right of passage for some elite runners to wear a necklace during a race. Some runners even jokingly wonder just how fast you have to run before you can pull off such a bold choice. So what’s the rationale behind it?
Here are a few common reasons why runners may choose to wear necklaces:
Perhaps the most common reason for wearing a necklace while running or racing is the superstition associated with it. If you happened to be wearing a certain necklace when you hit a massive personal record, you may be inclined to link the success to the jewelry. (Source)
Having a superstitious token is very common in a variety of sports and running is no exception. Certain pieces of jewelry can also have sentimental significance, like a necklace from a deceased family member. It can be a way of keeping their spirit present.
Another reason for a runner to wear a necklace during a race is the comfort and routine of it. If you always wear the same chain around your neck while you train, it would likely feel strange to run without it.
In some ways, it becomes part of the rhythm of the run itself, almost creating a physical metronome as it beats with each stride. If you associate running with this feeling, it can really throw off your mental game if you stop wearing it, so many runners don’t risk it on race day.
Of course, many runners choose to wear a necklace for more superficial reasons: namely, the style factor. Running doesn’t lend itself to particularly flashy apparel. There are only so many ways to make a simple tank top or sports bra and running shorts unique.
(This may also be the reason why so many runners opt for super bold colors when picking out their shoes.) Adding a necklace can be an easy way to enhance an otherwise standard running kit. Feeling good can increase confidence which in turn can improve performance . In other words, looking good can lead to feeling good which can ultimately result in a better run.
Some runners may wear a necklace simply because they can. In high school competitions, jewelry is banned (even those Livestrong rubber bracelets). Coaches will often ban jewelry at practice, too, often for safety reasons and to prevent athletes from getting into a routine.
Once these athletes reach college, they may choose to wear a necklace just because they finally have the freedom to do so.
Being able to accessorize can be a fun way to differentiate from other runners who are likely wearing very similar outfits. It can be used as a form of personal expression for athletes.
Can You Wear Jewelry While Running? (Reasons To Avoid It)
For the most part, you can wear jewelry while you run. However, many high school athletic competitions ban all forms of jewelry. This includes necklaces, bracelets, rings, and all visible body piercings (including stud earrings). The general reasoning for this is that it keeps runners safer (Source).
Aside from the high school ban, there are a few other reasons you may choose not to wear jewelry on your runs (Source):
Like the reasoning behind high school sports banning jewelry, many runners choose not to wear it for safety component. Jewelry can get caught on clothing or equipment which can be dangerous. It’s best to stick to accessories that are made for athletic activities like smartwatches and rings.
Some people find that jewelry distracts them on their runs, especially jewelry that tends to bounce around. It can also get caught in your hair or on your clothes which can be annoying to fix mid-stride, throwing off your run.
It Damages the Jewelry
Running with jewelry on can cause damage to the jewelry. Precious metals often don’t react well to sweat and the material can start to wear down. If the jewelry gets caught on something, it can bend or break.
Things to Keep in Mind
Whether you choose to wear a necklace ultimately comes down to personal preference. However, if you plan on competing in a race, you’ll want to read the official rules to make sure you aren’t at risk of being disqualified.
It can be very stressful to get to a race with a sentimental piece of jewelry only to learn that you won’t be allowed to wear it and may not have a safe place to leave it. You also don’t want to risk ruining your favorite accessory. When in doubt, it’s likely best to leave your favorite pieces at home.