Literally. I had a weight lifted off of me on my 9 mile run this morning. I bought a cheapie fuel belt before my first half last year. It's a New Balance that came with a small pocket and a 20 oz water bottle. Oddly enough, the water bottle that it came with cannot be easily put into or removed from the belt. It's damn near impossible to get it in and out while running. It gave the water I put in it a horrible plasticky aftertaste. I ditched it immediately for another water bottle I had in the cabinet and later for a Gatorade bottle. It never seemed to bother me when I was training last fall. I fretted and stressed over picking the right bottle before purchasing this one on a whim. It worked fine, so I wondered what all the fuss was over different fuel belts.
Now I get it. I strapped it on this morning for the first time since last October, and it was awful. My first 2 miles were slow and painful. My stomach was killing me and felt cramped. Luckily, I run a 2 mile loop that goes right by my house. I stopped after the first loop and threw the belt in the mailbox. I felt soooooo much better! Mile three improved by a full minute and that was with my stop at the mailbox added in. Out of the 9 miles I ran today, mile 2 was by far the slowest, so I think that really speaks to how terribly uncomfortable the belt made me.
Onto my fueling issues, which are related to today's belt fiasco. Up until this point, I've always used Chocolate Outrage Gu for my runs over 7-8 miles. I also have always used watered down Gatorade. This combo had really been irritating my stomach as of late. My past few long runs have been plagued with slowness due to stomach cramps and aches. I did a little research and realized that Gu should not be chased with Gatorade. It's a recipe for disaster. I was hesitant to switch to water since my stomach used to turn on runs when I would hydrate with water. I tested it out on a few shorter runs this week with good results, so I traded my Gatorade for water today.
I also decided to play around with different fuels today. I think the caffeine in the Gu was causing further stomach irritation. On the advice of a health and fitness board that I frequent, I went to Academy this week and stocked up on single servings of different fuels. I bought Shot Bloks, Sport Beans, Honey Stinger Waffle, and Mocha Flavored Clif Shot Gel. I tasted the Shot Bloks yesterday and they ended up in the trash. I had a serious issue with the texture, not to mention the weird taste it left in my mouth. I also tasted the Honey Stinger Waffle and found it to be rather delicious! It really fell apart nicely in my mouth, so I think it would be a good choice for anyone who prefers to eat something akin to real food on long runs as opposed to gels or beans. I tried the beans at the 2 mile mark today when I ditched my fuel belt. I think I have found my new fuel! They were delicious and so easy to chew while running. I had zero intestinal issues with them. It was so much more pleasant than having to squirt an icing like Gu into my mouth and wait for it to dissolve.
With all that out of the way, I have concluded that I will not wear a belt in my next half. Now that I am set with water, there's really no reason to carry it, especially with the problems it caused today. Although I lied a little bit because I may look into a Spibelt to hold my sport beans and phone. I've only ever heard great reviews of the Spibelt, so I feel confident that it would be a great choice. I have to say that I feel so free now that I've worked this all out! The thought of not having that fuel belt strapped to me makes me a little ecstatic! Happy Sunday!