To run in the summer heat and humidity, it is essential to stay hydrated. For the past 2 years, I have been meeting my water needs by drinking adequately before the run, and for runs of 90 minutes or longer, wearing a hydration belt. I have one from Nathan that I got from Amazon for $44.17 that came with four 10 ounce bottles. Because I feel safer running with a cellphone on longer runs, I use one of the bottle slots for my cellphone, so I effectively only have 3. The belt has really been great for me, and I would highly recommend it to others.
Yet while the belt has worked great up until now, my longest training runs are such that I run out of water on them (I’m up to almost four hours now), and I have to loop back to my car or find some other water source to refill the bottles mid-run. Not only that, on the really hot days, I find the water gets warm and sometimes unpleasant to drink before I run out it, even when I freeze the bottles solid before the run.
For these reasons and out of curiosity and having a desire to try new things that might make my running easier or better, I decided that I wanted to see if a hydration vest would be better for me on long runs. My issue with the vests is that they seem to be terribly expensive and there is no way I want to spend a ton of money, especially if I might find that I don’t even like running with it! For example, the Orange Mud HydraQuiver VP2 Vest Pack is $134.95 from Amazon, and a lot of its competitors are similarly priced.
When I saw the SLS3 vest on Amazon, I was drawn to it, because it looked like the real deal, but only cost $35.90. The one I got came with two 24 oz. bottles, but there are options for other sizes (17 oz. and 9.5 oz., and a few bucks less in price). The relatively low cost of my vest compared with most others made it less risky for me to try. I of course read the reviews, and most of them were quite positive, with the negative reviews worth noting, but nothing I thought would prove to be a show stopper.
I have had my Polar M400 Running Watch for a full month now. Prior to purchasing it, when I went running, I was actually wearing 3 devices on my arm: a Timex watch which worked with a chest strap heart rate monitor; another Timex watch which allowed for repeat intervals which I needed in order to use Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method; and a FitBit Charge HR. In addition to what I was wearing on my arm, I would sometimes carry my cellphone, on which I would run either the Nike+ app or the MapMyRun app. My Polar M400 replaces all 4 devices — and then does things that none of my devices could do.
To state succinctly what I am going to say about the M400: I love it! What an awesome device! I bought it from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Polar-Sports-Watch-Heart-Monitor/dp/B00NPZ7WNU/) for less than $160 (without tax or shipping), and it came with a chest strap heart rate monitor. It was around $100 less than its competitors, such as a number of Garmin products, such as the Garmin Forerunner 220.
In addition to accurately reading my heart rate with the chest strap monitor — something I couldn’t trust the FitBit Charge HR to do from my wrist — it has a GPS built in, which seems to sample all of the data I am interested in every second (since I can download the data in a csv file and examine it at that level of detail). I had not really paid a lot of attention to either Nike+ or MapMyRun until the end of the run (I found it awkward to be pulling out my big Samsung Note during a run), while wearing a GPS on my wrist has enabled me to be interested in what it can tell me during the run. In addition to various distance measures, it can also tell you your current speed and your average speed for the lap you are on and over the course of the run so far.
I am very happy with my new Nathan Trail Mix 4 Water Belt for Running! I needed a belt that would let me carry more than a half liter of water for the longer runs I had started doing this summer. Other systems I tried didn’t work because they bounced too much when the weight of the water got too high.
Nathan’s solved that problem by designing their water belt with an elastic material that stretches to give a secure fit to the body, and by distributing the water to four, well-designed water bottles and their fitted holsters. The belt is adjustable, and I found that I had to adjust it tighter than I initially, because the elastic waist band stretched more than I thought it would.
A writer of one of the reviews I read suggested that it be worn up by one’s natural waist rather than closer to the hips. I generally think that idea is a good one, though I discovered that when I tried to wear it that high, it slipped downward a little bit from my waist over the course of a run. Nonetheless, it remained comfortable. If it didn’t remain comfortable, I could always tighten the belt a little tighter so it would be less likely to slip.
I tried wearing the belt with the buckle forward, which is what I would consider the normal way to wear such a device. I discovered that the front two water bottles are not spaced very far apart, and it felt uncomfortable the way the water bottles hit my body both above and below the belt. Fortunately, you don’t have to wear it the “normal” way. I tried it with the buckle at the back and the storage compartment in the front, which worked just fine. But in the end, I preferred to wear it side-ways, with the storage compartment on the side (my right side, since I’m right-handed).