Friday, March 25, 2011

Anatomy of a Training Run: Hydration Edition

Since last night was my first attempt at running with my new CamelBak on my back, I thought it was a good time to expand my Anatomy of a Training Run series to include a post about hydration.

I've tried all kinds of ways to hydrate on my longer training runs: handheld water bottles, Fuel Belt, CamelBak...even driving the route before running and placing water bottles every so often. I'm going to review each of these hydration methods for you and tell you which one that I like the best.

Disclaimer: All opinions in this post are my own and based on my own experiences with these products. I was not compensated by the manufacturers of the following products in any way. 

the handheld water bottle

This was my first choice for running hydration when I was training for my first marathon. I didn't think I could stand wearing a fuel belt, but didn't know how else I was going to be able to get water on my runs. I quickly found out there are many downsides to this method:
  • Having to physically hold the water bottle in one hand (my hands were not created equal and I tend to use my right side more often). It can get a bit uncomfortable
  • My particular water bottle only holds 12 oz. of water. Not enough on a 15 mile run...found that one out the hard way!
That being said, this method is good for longer, short runs (which is anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours for me)

the Fuel Belt

It took me a long time to warm up to the idea of wearing a fuel belt, but during training for my first marathon I needed to figure out a way to stay hydrated for 20-mile training runs. It honestly wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The downside was I had to carry all that water on my hips. After a few miles, you get used to it though. The upsides?
  • There was definitely enough water to get me through 20 miles, mine held 4-10 oz. bottles.
  • There's a pocket at the front to hold long run necessities: GU packs, ID, band-aids, etc. 
Given all that, Brandon and I have been taking the fuel belt out on our long runs, and for two people it will only get you through about 13 miles. 

the CamelBak

Yesterday was my first time using a CamelBak, but the impetus in buying one was two-fold: for marathon training and for our BikeMS training (speaking of which, have you donated to Team Baby Got Bike? I'll send you coookkkiesss!!) Anyway, it definitely holds enough water to get me through those extra long training runs. Cons:
  • Carrying 1.5L (depending on the size of your bladder) on your back for mucho mileage
  • Extra back sweat and the potential for new places to chafe. I didn't experience any new chafing because it's still to cold to wear sleeveless shirts, but I can see this potentially being an issue when it's warmer out
  • The water left in the tube freezes in sub-freezing temps and you can't really get water out adequately. Had that problem yesterday. 
  • The swishy water sound made me think I needed to pee. You get used to it though.
Still, I really liked not having to carry anything in my hands or on my hips. I was thrown off by all the noise at first, but I had not filled my bladder completely, which would probably help that. 

the water bottle 
(dropped in strategic places along training route)

This one takes a little planning on the runner's part. The one and only time I placed water bottles along my running route was when I went on an 18-mile training run during my Akron Marathon training (my long run the week before went sorely awry because I didn't have enough water with me). I drove my route the night before and put down water bottles at about every 4-5 miles. The plus side of this is there is plenty of water, and it simulates the water stations at the race. The downsides:
  • Disposing of the water bottles is often not very environmentally friendly, unless you know where there are trash cans along your running route
  • For me, I placed the bottles too close together and sometimes I still had water in one bottle when I got to the next one. This lends to water wasting because I found myself either throwing out my water bottles early or skipping the next bottle altogether - not very economical.
  • It's a lot of extra work to drive the route beforehand, and if you hit any trails you might be S.O.L.
Ok folks, that's my assessment of different ways to fuel on my long runs. There are good and bad points about all of them but all of the cons are outweighed by the serious need for water during those hot summer months. So which is my favorite? 

the envelope please...

...and the winner is:
my CamelBak!

I think the amount of water this holds, plus it's versatility outweighs all the cons. I can still pack snacks and my ID, cell phone, whatever else, with me with minimal annoyance. I can take it on long bike rides. I can take it on long runs. I already have a way to ameliorate chafing (product review coming soon!) so I'm not too worried about wearing sleeveless running shirts with it. As for that swishing water sound? I got used to it within a mile or so...I'm not to worried about running 20. I imagine I'll forget about it all together if it's swishing for that long. 

What is your favorite way to hydrate during endurance execises? 

Did you miss the other Anatomy of a Training Run posts? Here they are:

  • The Run/Walk Run
  • The Tempo Run
  • The Yasso 800
Also, be on the lookout for my first PL&B giveaway!!!

Peace, Love & Bagels, 

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