Friday, August 28, 2009

On Fuel Belts

200th post!!! I want to gush over how much I've enjoyed being part of this community. You guys are the best. You keep me running on those days when I just want to curl up and go to sleep, you make me laugh when life is glum; I enjoy reading every sordid detail of your lives and want to share the same with you. Love you all!

Wish I had planned some cool giveaway, but that sounds like a lot of work.
Instead, I am going to shamelessly announce that I just got my free Wright socks in the mail!!! I am so excited to try them out. Runnerslounge is the best!

I do want to broadcast a 200th post giveaway, courtesy Mel of Tall Mom on the Run! Win cool Pearl Izumi running shorts...who doesn't want those? And as I love you so much, please don't forget to mention that I sent you over!

Also, check out my colorful tofu dish, embellished with onions and peppers...yummy, even if I say so myself.

On to the subject of Fuel belts.

One of the reasons I enjoy running (and I'm sure you'll agree with me) is that feeling of levity...the feeling that I am soaring and everything is alright with my world, as long as I can keep on running. But would you feel that way if you were weighed down by...


I bought this belt when I first started to train for a marathon...more than a year ago. Very functional, as you can see...2 bottles for water and gatorade, and 2 decent sized compartments that can house just about anything you will need on your run. But I've never been a fan of fuel belts. After a couple of half-hearted attempts at wearing it on my runs, I gave up, finding it far more convenient to run several out and back loops around my house, filling up on water, gatorade, fruit and GU at my doorstep fuel station every few miles.

But, as I have started to venture into unknown and uncharted territory, I feel a more compelling need to wear this contraption, to carry the innumerable things I never needed to carry before...water, gatorade, GU, a snack, money, car keys, cell phone and camera...without having to juggle them (I've always thought it would be so cool if humans had more than 2 hands). I also think it's not acceptable (*ahem*...after the first few times), to take a swig out of your running buddy's water bottle or steal a snack from him/her everytime I feel the urge to refuel, no matter how nice he/she is about sharing.

So in anticipation of Sunday's long run (if this weird tendon pain I'd been having since the morning will ease up by then!) when Glenn and I intend to traverse the pretty neighborhoods of Watchung and Gillette, I decided to try out my fuel belt one more time...on my 8-mile practice run last evening.

After tightening the belt (to prevent it from jiggling about and bruising my mid-section) and filling it with all the aforementioned accessories, I strapped it around myself and set off on the 8-mile adventure, feeling a little like a pack mule.

I was a bit self-conscious...people I knew would probably wonder why I was wearing all these bottles, when I was mere blocks away from home. Then I realized the only person who would even think that is me. Everyone else in the neighborhood knows me as the crazy running lady...would a few sloshing bottles and jangling keys make a big difference?

I started out's my high mileage week, and I didn't want to aggravate the pain in my tendon. The pain is right above the ankle, on the outside of my right leg, and didn't bother me after I started running.

Now, on my local runs, I refuel once every 5 miles. I know...that's not enough fluid, I risk getting dehydrated, hyponatremic, and all that good stuff...but it's what I'm used to. I take 2-3 generous gulps of water and gatorade and a mouthful of banana every 5 miles and it has done the trick. But when you are burdened by a fuel belt, you tend to take a swig every 1/2 mile. For one thing, the fluid is right there, why not chug it down? Besides, the more you ingest, the less you have to carry.
So after 3 miles of filling up on water and gatorade, I was moving along at a fast clip, hoping to get home and safely into the restroom before my bladder exploded. The contstant rubbing of belt against belly didn't help. Meanwhile, I didn't even notice that my new sunglasses were fogging up and collecting pools of sweat under my eyes.
The last 3 miles were completed sans fuel belt. 5 miles are good enough for my maiden fuel-belt adventure. Hope I last longer the next time!

So, the verdict is, fuel belts are a good investment, if you can build rest stops into your run every half hour or so. They prepare you for heavy lifting, keep your hands free for clicking pretty pictures, and take your concentration away from things like annoying injuries and cheap sunglasses.

Happy weekend, all!


Marlene said...

It took me a long time to get used to my belt (and it still bothers me sometimes) but I wear it for all runs over 1.5 hours now. I prefer not having to stop and I set 'rules' for myself as to when I can sip - otherwise I'll chug it all down way too quickly!

Have a great weekend! Enjoy the socks. Oh, and happy 200 posts!

Irene said...

Any runs over 4 miles and I need a fuel belt. I wish I could be one of those runners who could just rely on only the hydration tables at a race, but with asthma I need water well before the hydration tables... I sometimes complain about the fuel belts but I'm very glad to have it with me!

joyRuN said...

Happy 200!

I can't stand my fuel belt in the summertime (hence the handheld). It's def a worthwhile investment.

Anonymous said...

A big congrats on the 200th post!
Great work and keep up the blogging and running.

I agree that fuel belts feel strange when you first start to use them. Like you said, the only person thinking you look weird is yourself. People in my neighborhood tend not to understand people that run away without apparent reason (lions chasing them, etc.)

Still, after I found out how tightly to strap my belt around my waist, I began to appreciate my fuel belt.

Keep up the training with them and have a great weekend

Mel-2nd Chances said...

oooh! I got my socks too, love 'em. Congrats on 200 posts. I had a hard time finding the right fuel belt, but now I have one that doesn't move or bounce, which used to drive me crazy. I don't even notice it on anymore. Enjoy your weekend!

Mica said...

I'm glad the belt is working out for you, even if there are some initial problems. They don't seem to work for me (too much riding up), so I've been using a CamelBak.

Vickie said...

I'm with you on the fuel belt thing. Hate them, even though I too have invested mega bucks on different ones, which never work. I do however carry a hand held water bottle with a zipper pouch on the carrying strap (Nathan). I freeze the water almost to the top and then top it off with cold water before heading out. This has lasted me up to 2 hours, and in a longer race I refill it as I go along, usually because I still have ice so it stays cold for a long time. I also wear one of those belts for numbers that has a small, stretchy pouch, which you also can put quite a bit in and it doesn't tend to bounce or chafe.

Abby said...

Happy 200th :) And enjoy the wrightsocks - they're my favorite!

I'm not a fuelbelt girl, just never found them all that comfortable. I do wear a camelback sometimes, especially on longer trail runs. It does the trick as far as water goes, and it's good training for adventure racing.

Hope you've enjoyed the summer - looking forward to getting back to the blogging world this fall!

X-Country2 said...

Congrats on 200 posts! I'm not a fuel belt convert, but I certainly see the appeal. Glad you're liking it.

Tammy said...

Congrats on the 200th post! I couldn't possibly wear a fuel belt. I run out in the sticks, so I drop off my water the night before and drive back to pick up the empties after my run.

I wore a fanny pack for my first marathon, and I have no idea how I didn't toss it after 2 or 3 miles. Youth, I suppose.

The Happy Runner said...

Congratulations on your 200th post!

I would probably check out a fuel belt if I was to train for another marathon. It was a drag always carrying my drinks.

Scheri said...

It took me a while to get used to mine. I always felt like it bounced on me. I don't even notice it now.

Congrats on your 200th :-)

Heather said...

I've got a love/hate relationship with my fuel built, but I guess I've come to see it as a necessary evil! Congrats on the 200th post!

lindsay said...

i hate having things tied around my waist... i got a handheld water bottle. it works OK but doesn't hold as much as a belt would obviously. if only i had a personal trainer to bike along with me everyday! :)

aron said...

i hadnt used my fuel belt in forever and had been using my handheld, but switched back on my last couple long runs because i was sick of having something in my hand. if only someone could be there holding a water bottle every time i needed it :)