Today’s run was an easy six mile recovery run in the rain. Being Memorial Day weekend, class was sparsely attended and we were short on pace-group leaders as well. I ended up co-leading my pace group and it’s a good thing there were two of us, because we both would have taken some wrong turns otherwise. Yay teamwork! I was very excited when most of the half marathoners in our group opted to go the full six miles, rather than the four miles they had scheduled today, as well. There were only two full marathoners in the group, so it was really nice to have everyone along on those last two miles.
In addition to many people missing class because of Memorial Day weekend plans, we’re also losing more students and pace group leaders to injury. The biggest issue seems to be other races. Folks seem to be going out to do other races on our short run weeks, and hurting themselves. This makes me feel really good about my decision not to enter any races before the marathon, and I’d suggest the same to any new runners who are reading this blog. It’s so easy to get overly motivated in a race and go too fast or not use the same run/walk split you’re used to, or both. If you do decide to do smaller races before your big goal race, just keep in mind that you don’t want to hurt yourself and run accordingly.
Now I’d like to take a moment to do a product comparison for you that I wish I’d had the knowledge to do when I first started shopping for running gear. These are my own experiences and opinions and I’m not getting anything from either company for this.
I have two water belts. You may recall that I bought a new water belt for our twenty mile run, because I didn’t feel that my Nathan belt with two bottles would get me through. For all you new runners out there, I’d like to compare my Nathan Speed 2 to my Amphipod Runlite Airstretch, with 2 additional bottles. There are many other hydration belts out there, so shop around, but maybe this info can help you make a choice.
The Nathan Speed 2 holds two bottles in a fixed position. Those bottles are very easy too get in and out of their carriers while you’re moving. The pouch has a key fob, an ID card and space for your cell phone or a couple of gels or a bag of gummies if you take the air out. There’s also a pill pocket on the front that I’ve used to carry a lip-balm in, but it doesn’t really fit.
The Amphipod Runlite Airstretch came with two bottles and I added two more. For our 20 and 23 mile runs, I was very glad to have all four bottles, especially since our 23 mile run was on a warmer day. The pouch also has a key fob and it stretches just a bit more than the one on the Nathan, but they’re fairly comparable in terms of capacity.
On the Nathan, I really like how easy the bottles are to get in and out of their carriers. The Amphipod bottles snap in and they’re not always quite as easy to put away on the go, but I think it’s one of those things you get used to such that it becomes more natural over time. I also like the velcro flap style for the pouch over the Amphipod zipper. It’s just a bit easier to deal with when I’m reaching behind me. Some of the Amphipod belts have pouches with flaps, too, though.
On the Amphipod belt, I really like that the position of the bottles is not fixed. I can move them around to better accommodate my arm swing, make room for other add-on containers or my Gymboss beeper or my watch, etc. I also like that the Amphipod bottles are much easier to close after you’ve had your drink, which means less water leaked out on you while you’re running. The Amphipod belt is also more easily customized, with those additional water bottles or containers. I’d like to get a second pouch for mine for our next long run.
Both belts have their advantages and disadvantages, but in the end, I prefer the Amphipod belt primarily because I can re-position the bottles and easily add more items. For some folks, the snap-in bottles might just be a deal-breaker.
If you’re thinking about getting a belt with fixed bottle positions, regardless of the number of bottles, make sure you run & walk around with it on and verify that the bottle positions work for you. Also, get the bottles in and out of their carriers a few times while you’re moving, and stick a few gels and your phone in the pouch and get them out while the belt is on. And check how easy the bottles are to open and close. You may ask to put water in one. Some stores may even let you.
When you’re a new runner, there are so many things you don’t know, not just about the products themselves, but about your own preferences. A good, local running store may be the place to go, even if you pay a little more there. The staff there is more likely to know enough and care enough to help you make the best decision. But even then, you may learn, like I did with my water belt, that there is a better option for you.
The Missoula Marathon is in 41 days and I’ll be running it with my Amphipod water belt. I’m really looking forward to it.