On one of my long runs w/ Jenny this Spring, she drove the course before our run and put water at strategic spots. Ingenious! I had never done a long run with water stops before (other than stopping at a park if I saw one and it happened to have its water on). It was amazing! What a difference even a little water break makes!!!

This summer I’ve played with a few different options. I could simply do what Jenny did — but I’m not motivated to take the extra 30 minutes to drive the course. So, I thought I’d share some of the things I (along with my husband) have tried.

1. Nathan water bladder backpack:

I bought the 1.5L bladder pack specifically designed for women (I have trouble finding things that are small/short enough, but this is just about perfect!!). How great! All I have to do is fill it up before I leave, add a few ice cubes, and I have plenty of water for a 15 mile+ run. Now having used this, I don’t know how I ever ran without. It’s nice to think that I’ve already had 1-1.5L of water during the run as well — otherwise, I think it’d be almost impossible to re-hydrate after a long hot run. You’d think that the water would jossle a lot becuase of the amount of liquid you’re carrying, but you really don’t feel it (aside from the added weight). You can hear it swishing in the bladder, but that’s all. There are front pockets which easily fit a couple of gels and a cell phone. The backpack also offers you the ability to carry an extra shirt or jacket (if you’re hiking).

The downsides? I felt a little “gimmicky” runner with this the first time… but have quickly gotten over that sterotype once I realized how nice it was. You can’t run in just a sports bra because the straps will rub against you. Your back will also get sweaty, but I actually don’t notice it a ton. I would also highly recommend this if you’re planning on hiking. Online at: http://store.finnsisu.com/nathanintensity.html

2. Fuel Belt: http://store.finnsisu.com/fuelbelt.html
Perhaps the traditional water pack for distance runners. I haven’t used one on a run yet — Nathan has. I think this is a nice option if you want to mix both water and gatorade (you can fill each bottle individually). It’s also a lot cooler than carrying an entire backpack. I’m not sure if I’d hit the bottles, though. I tend to carry my arms close to my side, and I’m afraid that I’ll hit the belt often. Nathan said he didn’t have a problem with it though. They come with a small pocket for gels. You can also buy additional pockets and add-ons to carry a little more.

3. Innov8 horizontal pack: The alternative to carrying a backpack, this pack allows you to carry large amounts of water wrapped around the small of your back. A nice idea, but I don’t think the water is as secure as in the backpack. Be sure to carry the weight at your waist, not at your hips. An OK option, in my opinion.

4. This last Sunday I didn’t want to run with the backpack (added weight) — I had 20 miles planned, with the last 9 at marathon pace (6:40). Hitting those times are hard enough as it is, let alone carrying anything extra on you. So, Nathan agreed to play “water boy” for me, as he was rollerskiing with me for the run. He carried a simple Nathan water bottle pack along, and would fill it up as needed. What a LIFESAVER! During the last 1.5 miles of the run he gave me water about every 1/4 of a mile. I needed it. I wasn’t sweating the entire run, and by then was definitely overheating. Having the ability to take sips and pour some over my head allowed me to do the full 9 on pace. Without water, I DEFINITELY wouldn’t have been able to do this. Probably not the best hydration system out there (unless you have a good friend willing to lend you their time/water bottle) 🙂 — thank you, Nate!!!

So, if you don’t already use something out there on your long runs, I definitely recommend trying something. I think you’ll be amazed how much of a difference it’ll make. Anything you can do to help with hydration (and combating de-hydration) will be really beneficial. If you’ve tried something that you really like, please comment here and let me/others know about it! I’m always up for suggestions. 🙂

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One Comment

  1. I have tried all of these styles, and I think that they all have value. The backpack/camelback style is probably the most versitile, but also can be a bit bulky. The Nathan brand is very low profile and runs very well. It is less bulky than most (Nichole loves hers).

    The Inov8 pack is a nice idea, and the one I have carries 2L (a ton of water!). The only problem I have carrying that much water is all that weight right on my lower back (I think the weight is more stable higher on my back in the Nathan backpack, or all around my waist like the Fuel Belt). Also, as the Inov8 pack empties (as I drink), it gets looser, but the strap is quite difficult to tighten on the run. Still nice to have all that water though.

    I ran with the Fuel Belt in the Afton Trail Run, and I really liked it. I did not have a problem with it bouncing even on all those downhills, and I was able to mix two bottles with enery drink, and two with water (a really nice feature now that I have tried it, and I actually do miss it with the different bladder packs or a single water bottle). Each bottle is not very large (8oz volume each), so it does not have the capacity of some of the other systems, but it is probably my pack of choice in a trail race.

    The standard single water bottle holder is the gold standard for skiers, and I think it makes the most since when skiing and when you don't have to worry about bouncing (they are easy to clean and they are cheap). Some people have better luck running with them, but I just can't without the bottle flying out on a downhill, the top of the bottle or holder rubbing my back or hips raw, and the whole thing making me feel like I am wearing a corset (sinching it uncomfortable tight is the only way I can get the holder to not bounce).

    Lots of ways to stay hydrated.

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