Yesterday, I received an email from a reader (shout out to Tim in Sacramento) asking about fueling options:
Curious how you choose to hydrate for marathons, halfs and training runs… I’ve been noticing a lot of runners in halfs foregoing belts, etc., especially the leaders. Wondering if it’s a pace and lightness thing, or just getting yourself used to the cups & spaced water stops.
This is a great question and an answer I thought I’d share with everybody as it took me a long time to finally figure out what hydration gear I preferred. There’s definitely a plethora of overwhelming choices and outlined below are my two cents:
Short Training Runs (8 miles or less)
During shorter runs, my body can usually manage not bringing the extra water and if I need to, I’ll stop and get some from a fountain. Thus, I only use my iFitness belt to carry my cell phone, a credit card and maybe some chews (be safe and ALWAYS BRING A CELL PHONE). The iFitness belt is my all-time favorite because it seriously doesn’t bounce and can fit a ton of stuff in the tiny pocket. It is a must-have for all runners.
Mid-Distance & Long Training Runs
When I started getting serious about running, I saw everyone sporting the full on fuel belt – complete with water bottles, a pocket, Gu holders, etc. I knew I needed to carry fuel with me so I thought this was the way to go. I finally found a belt that had a minimal amount of bounce (the Nathan belt below) and thought I was set.
But here’s where the problem is: you velcro it on your waist but I have to have my shirt on top of the belt – in other words, I don’t like to strap the belt on and have my shirt practically tucked in. I prefer my shirts to be free flowing so air can circulate and I don’t overheat. So, that means that the belt is strapped on tight and making direct contact with my skin and let me tell you, once you fill those water bottles up, that belt is HEAVY! The more and more long runs I did with the belt, I felt weighed down by it and the it would rub my sides raw. Not worth it to me. Thus, I tried out a few more things and finally found a good solution: hand-held bottle (with pocket) and an iFitness belt.
I use a larger hand-held as the smaller ones don’t seem to make sense to me. It’s such a small amount of water and not worth the burden. The hand-held DOES take getting used to, so don’t try it out for the first time on a marathon (as I did at Chicago and ended up chucking the wattle because I felt like my hands were freaking out.)
5K – 10Ks
I usually try not to carry anything and use the race’s water stops if need be. These races are usually short enough that I’m focused on speed and don’t want anything to weigh me down. But make sure the race actually has water stops! Some smaller races don’t.
If I am focusing on a PR, I will just take my iFitness belt for fuel and my phone, and use the water stops. If it’s a leisurely half, go ahead and take a hand-held as well.
I used the full belt at LA and it chewed me up pretty badly. This time around I’m sticking with the iFitness belt and hand-held. If the hand-held starts to bother you, take the actual bottle out of the holder and chuck it, then loop the holder onto you iFitness belt. I know, I know…not the most eco-friendly or cost effective, but the bottle is cheap to replace and that $3 could be worth a new PR!
As with everything else, be sure to try out all of your options on your training runs to see what really works best for you.
What do you use to fuel during training and racing?
If you have any running questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com
Day 84: So far, Jillian Michaels’ Trouble Zone DVD