The good side of summer in the southern plains is what when it comes to training, all those long, bright and sunny days give you a tremendous nudge to get outside.
The bad side: Heat. Not desert southwest heat, but still the kind of temps (100s and up) that zaps you before you can really get any work done.
The fall race schedule is looming, and there are still a few Rocky Mountain peaks I’d like to bag before winter sets in. But I can’t achieve these goals doing what I did last summer.
At the time, I relied on pre-hydrating before my runs and hoping for the best as the miles went by.
It didn’t work. We had record-setting heat last summer, with somewhere around 40 to 50 100-degree days. My schedule precluded me from early morning or dusk runs. Similar heat and schedule issues are true now. What to do?
Various methods of in-training hydration are out there, and no, I’m not talking about park drinking fountains.
Some people carry water bottles. Others go with hydration belt packs. And then there’s the hydration backpack.
At first glance, none of these sounds appealing. Holding a bottle in my hand is a no-go, even with a bottle grip device. The belt sounds intriguing, provided the gear doesn’t get on my nerves. The backpack, even a small one, makes me worry about comfort and weight.
But I have to do something. I can’t just keep cashing it in short of my training goals and expect to make any sort of progress.
This week, I tried one of the three listed here: a lightweight, bare-bones hydration backpack made by CamelBak.
The pack itself is a stripped down version of other hydration packs made by CamelBak. The pack is big enough for a 1.5 liter water bladder and little else. There is a small, zippered pocket where you could stash your keys and a phone, or maybe a couple of packages of Gu. But that’s it. There’s a chest strap for stability, but no hip belt.
It’s tailor-made for biking and ultralight hiking, but running?
It’s light. Since there’s almost nothing to it, most of the weight is going to be from the water, and you don’t have to fill the entire bladder of weight is a major concern. There was no discomfort in wearing it during a 3-mile trail run on, at times, technical terrain. The pack was remarkably stable, too. I didn’t feel it shifting around too much at all. Getting a quick sip via the bite valve was fine whether I was stopped or on the move. And it served its purpose. Staying hydrated as I ran improved my performance considerably. I could have run much, much further that night, despite the 99-degree temperature.
The sloshing. Over time, I wonder if the imbalances caused by shifting water would have affected my run. But in the short-term, the noise was just annoying. But really, that was about the only negative I found. If the run were really long, I’m sure chafing would be an issues where the shoulder straps are. But short of that, there was no issue.
Thanks to a pretty great Twitter friend, @DavidECreech, there is a solution to the sloshing problem. He suggested that after filling it, turn it upside-down, then suck all the air out of the bladder. This should eliminate that water movement. I’ll definitely try that.
Aside from breaking down and buying a waist pack with water bottles, I think this is a winner for me. Anytime I can extend my training time and mileage (not to mention adding in a little hot weather safety), I’ve got to take advantage of that.
What method of hydration do you prefer? How do you stay hydrated on your runs, hikes and bike rides? Let me know here!
On Twitter @RMHigh7088