I finally broke down and bought a fuel belt. Or water belt. These long training runs during the summer in south Florida mandate this. I simply can’t stash enough water needed for my long runs and this frees me up to do a variety of routes. Also, despite the amount of water provided on the marathon route, it would be nice to bypass water stations when I don’t feel like stopping or getting caught up in the chaos.
I got the Fitletic Race Belt with add-on water packs. They had other belts with pockets and hydration already set into them but I wanted to control what went where. For instance, I don’t want the water pouches to sit on my sides because my arms might hit them while I run. The other belts had pouches for gear and phones but I wasn’t sure I wanted all of that on the belt. Those belts with the pouches didn’t feel as consistently tight because of those loose pouches. There are add-on pouches for phones and gear that I could get later if I wanted. None of that is really going to be necessary for most runs outside of a marathon anyway.
I discussed belts vs packs with a couple people on the run team. One person who ran with a pack (this person does ultras and trains with rather large water packs) said that it got extremely hot on the back while running. Yeah, pass on that. It’s already 100 degrees in the shade here.
Really everyone’s belts ran the gamut. Some had the plain belts like I have. Some have thinner belts with two 6oz waters. But what I figured was if I’m taking the trouble to wear this belt and haul water with me, then I want there to be enough water in there. 16oz seemed a lot better than 12oz. But we’ll see. You know how they say don’t buy groceries on an empty stomach? Maybe I shouldn’t have bought a water belt after a blazing hot 100 degree humid south Florida run.
I did the shake test too. I put it on and jumped around like a crazy person to see if it moved. It seems to be ok, though I haven’t done this with water in them yet. Also it was interesting to note that the spout doesn’t open or close. What you see is how it is. You just drink from it. They make it really easy. And the bottle is slightly curved so as to conform to your body and belt better I assume. And yes I did get the pink bottles. This is purely psychological. I imagined myself on a long run, grabbing for some water or Gatorade and the pink looked more like the color of cool refreshing juice than the black one did. The black one was like you’re on a survival show and have to drink from a puddle with a dead animal in it.
I had planned to try it out before this weekend’s 8 mile run but it was a little bit chaotic on my last run this week. A huge storm came in and I flew out the door to outrun it, or at least run in between the lightning strikes. Turns out the rain subsided anyway and I could have taken the belt. Oh well. I don’t think trying it out on an 8 mile run will turn out so badly that I’ll wish I could ditch it somewhere. It really seems secure and comfortable. Oh and I’m filling one side with water, one side with G2 (Gatorade) raspberry-lemon, and then I’ll stick a GU in one of the loops made for run gels. I’ll still carry my phone on my arm.
It didn’t go as well as I hoped. As soon as I started running, with the bottles being filled to their full 8oz, the belt was just too loose and the bottles were jiggling way too much. The main problem was that I could not get the belt tight enough. The GU straps on the belt prevent the belt from being tightened enough. I was worried maybe I got an extra large belt by mistake. But, in desperation, I twisted the belt around so that the bottles were now on my stomach rather than my back and it worked like a charm! In fact, it felt pretty perfect. My run team said it looked like I had a tool belt on (thanks guys) but who cares?! I was just too happy that I wasn’t stuck with a bouncing belt of annoyance for 8+ miles that day, and that I would still keep my water on me. Now the question is whether I want to continue with the belt in its modified form or look into a tighter belt so that I can reposition the water in the back.
I ended up getting another belt. I needed a smaller one, one that could be tightened more. I bought this Fitletic neoprene single pouch belt and then added four 8oz water bottles (see above). It’s been fine on runs. It doesn’t move and the 8oz bottles sit well in the front and in the back on either side of the pouch. Yes, it does feel like I’m running with a lot going on around the waist, but the humidity and heat here demands all of it. There’s no other way around it. I’m just wondering if I am going to have to use this whole contraption on race day for the marathon.
The water thing isn’t working. The belt felt fine for a while. Until it didn’t. In defense of the belt, I may just be having a moment. Admittedly, all my running gear is pissing me off right now to the point where I want to run inside on the treadmill so I can abandon all of it (watch, emergency band, sunglasses, carry-on hydration packs, even iPods). But since I’m running the big runs now and since it’s August in south Florida, this has now happened:
The Camelpak Slipstream. I have used it once or twice before but I think they are out of stock now. I distinctly remember thinking one of its virtues was that I could stuff candy corn in it for trail runs in October. Sooo circa October 2009, that’s the last time I used this thing. I hope it works out because I’m going on a 14 miler with it for the first time tomorrow.
Update #4: (my LAST update I swear!)
I have upgraded to the CamelBak Dart. Good luck finding one. I had to do mad research and then paid over what CamelBak regularly charges when I finally found one. But the updates to the Dart are hard to pass up. I guess it’s been forever since I was first trying out the CamelBak Slipstream on long runs. Since then, I’ve come to rely on a hydration pack rather than belt. My water needs are too great on any runs over 10 miles here in soflo in the summer. I’m also probably using the Dart for the marathon. I’m soooooo glad it took me a million belt and pack purchases to finally figure out what works ($$$!). Whadaya gonna do? At least I finally figured it out.