My Long Run Hydration Gear History

I was chatting with a friend today about blogging and how there’s so many things we want to blog about - for sharing purposes, for journaling, and what not. But then we keep putting it off and before you know, time has past and it feels irrelevant to blog about it now. To avoid that again, I’m resolving to finish a number of posts that I have either half-written or been meaning to write about this training cycle before, you know, the race is over (like in 12 days, but who’s counting).

Over the past couple of months I've been experimenting with different options in hopes of finding the perfect solution of things that I'll use come race day. I always find it interesting to see what other people use and hope that someone else may get some ideas from this post of what might work for them.

For the purposes of this post, by "long run gear" I mean hydration systems.

To provide some context, here’s a rundown of the various items I’ve used over the years:

+ Nathans Handheld Bottle:

Nathans Handheld Bottle
Nathans Handheld Bottle

Back in 2008, I used it the very first time I ran longer than 6-miles. It was a 9-miler two weeks before my very first half marathon. It was also the first time I carried water with me on a run. Ever. My shoulder hurt from carrying it and I never used it again.

+ Nathans 2-Bottle Fuel Belt:

Nathan 2-Bottle Fuel Belt
Nathan 2-Bottle Fuel Belt

Knowing I would need something for race day, I used a fuel belt the following week on a 10-mile run. If you're paying attention, yes, this would be the week before the race - clearly I had never even heard of the concept of taper. With the exception of the small pocket that wasn't big enough to hold my keys and phone, the belt worked well and I used it for the next two years.

+ Nathans 4-Bottle Fuel Belt:

Nathan 4-Bottle Fuel Belt
Nathan 4-Bottle Fuel Belt

I used this for my first marathon back in 2010. Not thinking I could actually drink at aid stations, I thought I needed to carry double the amount of water for a marathon than I did for a half marathon – you know, being double the distance and all. It was so heavy and unnecessary. I never used this again either.

+ iFitness Belts:

iFitness Belt
iFitness Belt

Shortly after that first marathon I ordered an iFitness belt. I first learned of iFitness belts from Chic Runner. I used it on short runs while still using my Nathan 2-bottle belt on longer runs.

When iFitness came out with hydration belts I switched over to this:

iFitness Hydration Belt
iFitness Hydration Belt

The bottles were smaller than the Nathan bottles, but the belt itself was much lighter. I felt that wearing a lighter belt would be kinder on my hips and it was.

+ Amphipod Handheld Bottle and Belt

After using iFitness belts for about two years they started to ride up my waist during my runs. It was very annoying, so last Fall I switched to using an Amphipod handheld bottle...

Amphipod Handheld Bottle
Amphipod Handheld Bottle

...and a regular Amphipod belt for my ID, cash, medical card, and keys.

Amphipod Belt
Amphipod Belt

This worked great until about three months ago when I got tired of carrying it and having to switch it from side-to-side. Around this same time a friend had completed her first 50K ultra marathon and recommended I consider a hydration pack.

+ Nathan Intensity Hydration Pack

Nathan Intensity Hydration Pack
Nathan Intensity Hydration Pack

I always thought wearing a backpack would bug the crap out of me on a run. But since I tried everything else, I figured I might as well give this a try too. If I didn’t like it, I could always use it on hikes (because you know, I do so much hiking and all - eye roll…).

Anyway, I had my REI dividend burning a hole in my pocket and they happened to have this specific pack in stock. Before I knew it, I was strapping it on for that weekend’s long run. And to my surprise, I loved it.

1. I can fill it with two 16 oz water bottles with Nuun. That’s double what I normally carry and I don’t need to make any stops for refills.

2. The pack stays in place and doesn’t jostle around like I thought it would.

3. It has pockets! There are pockets to hold my wallet, keys, three packs of Honey Stinger Chews and my phone – with extra room to spare! HANDS-FREE RUNNING!

Previous to this I used Lululemon’s Stuff Your Bra sports bra to hold my chews (in addition to the Amphipod handheld and belt). You can imagine how awkward this looked and felt.

I’ve since used this pack on every single long run. It really wasn’t my intention to use it on race day but since I haven’t been using my handheld, it would feel awkward to go back to it now.

Also, I felt self-conscious about using it for a marathon but you know how when you get a new car you suddenly notice all the other models of it driving around? Yeah, now I notice every. single. runner wearing a hydration pack while running around city streets. It seems to be quite a common thing so I’m going to go for it in the interest of comfort-ability and convenience vs. what anyone else thinks about it.

One thing I love about training cycles are the opportunities to try new things, whether it be a new training plan, new shoes, new nutritional products, or in this case, hydration gear.

Any other recommendations for long run hydration gear? I’m set on this for race day but always open to trying new things in the future.

Note: It seems silly to have to say this but I was not, nor have I ever been, nor will I likely ever be compensated for any product reviews. I also got the product images from the companies' web sites. Although it looks like some of the products have since been updated since there are new images posted (told you I started this post a while ago...)