Essential Sports Nutrition

6/22/18

Benefits of wearing a hydration belt featuring Naked Running Band

This is a typical picture of the gear we use during an outdoor run. As you can see, there are two flasks for both me and Karel, with our respective hydration belts. Let it be known that Karel and I run with our hydration belts for every single outdoor run. It doesn't matter how short or long, a hydration belt is part of our running gear.

It surprises me how many athletes undervalue the many benefits of a hydration belt/pack. We have been long-time supporters of hydration belts and packs because we feel they bring so many great benefits to athletes when running outside. Interestingly, hydration belt/pack acceptance is sport dependent. For example, hydration belts are not very popular among stand-along-runners and many refuse to wear them in training and racing. Furthermore, some races prohibit the use of bringing nutrition (belt/pack) with you on race day for safety reasons. In the ultra-running community, hydration packs are popular and widely accepted and encouraged. Ironically, stand-alone runners complain heavily of dehydration, bonking and other health/injury issues yet fail to realize that lack of accessible hydration/fueling could be to blame. In the triathlon community, triathlon belts/packs are sometimes worn but are not extremely popular. The number one complaint for not regularly wearing one is that "it's not comfortable" and I get it - nothing is comfortable when you are fatigued and exhausted when running off the bike and it's absolutely more freeing to run without anything wrapped around your waist. But for those who have learned to accept the hydration belt/pack, they have learned to appreciate it and become one with wearing something around the waist/chest.

Sadly, with live in a time where many athletes feel that "less is best." It's almost a badge of honor for some athletes to brag about how little they consume during long workouts as if those who fuel (or hydrate) during workouts are weak, inefficient or too fuel/fluid dependent. Well, we are dependent on sport nutrition because it serves us well - it keeps us healthy, strong and fit so we can adapt to training without impacting our health. We are proud to say that we fuel and hydrate during all of our workouts. 

Karel and I have worn hydration belts for many years and we require all Trimarni athletes on our team to wear a belt/pack in training and in long-distance racing.
While not every athlete that we coach always enjoys wearing a hydration belt/pack, it has provided value in terms of helping to keep athletes healthy and consistent with training. As coaches, our first priority is protecting the health of our athletes which means using gear that will keep the body functioning well, especially in stressful situations - like running in a fatigued state. We also find great value in having our athletes consume sport nutrition while running to train the gut for race day, familiarize them with products that will be effective on race day and to minimize the stress response from running.

Here are our top reasons why we wear a hydration belt when we run:
  1. We are self-sufficient when we run as we can drink when we want to drink without needing to rely on others. This helps us drink on a schedule to prevent overdrinking (and a sloshy stomach/GI issues) and to help delay fatigue and meet electrolyte/fluid/carbohydrate needs.
  2. We can test out different sport nutrition products that we will use on race day - in every single training session. We can also train our gut to tolerate nutrition/fluids when running (it's a skill to be able to drink and digest nutrition while running). 
  3. We can utilize well-formulated sport drinks instead of gels, which provide us with the correct formulation of electrolytes, fluids and carbohydrates to optimize gastric emptying.  Just because you are taking in calories, this doesn't mean it's actually emptying from your gut and being used by your working muscles. For a sport nutrition product to work, it must have the correct formulation to clear the digestive tract and to be absorbed by the small intestines - otherwise, it's just sitting in your gut, potentially causing distress. 
  4. Research shows in spite of depleted muscle and liver glycogen stores, the consumption of sugar (ex. sport drink) acts as a source of "energy" for the central nervous system to delay fatigue. 
  5. Reduced risk of injury and health issues by never starting or finishing a workout in a dehydrated or depleted state. Thus, we can bounce back quickly from our runs (regardless how short or long) to train consistently. 
  6. We build confidence in our race day fueling regime by practicing nutrition over and over again in training with similar products for race day. Come race day, our run nutrition is not an unknown but instead, a performance-enhancer because we have fine-tuned it in training. 
  7. It's become part of our running attire. Because we find it practical, necessary and important to wear a belt when running, we never leave the home without one when we run. 
  8. Carrying hydration in a hand held bottle has shown to affect running gait as the arm holding the bottle does not move freely like the hand without the bottle. For efficient running, the arms need to move with the hips. This can also cause neck tension and affect running form. 
  9. You never know when blood sugar will suddenly drop or when fatigue will set in. Having a properly mixed concentration of sugar with water (and electrolytes) can help keep blood sugar levels stable - especially in the later part of long runs and when running off the bike. 
  10. There are so many belts/packs on the market. Find one that works for you so you can enjoy the many benefits of being a self-sufficient, well-fueled and hydrated runner. The biggest benefit we have found with our belts is being able to run with well-formulated nutrition (fuel, fluids and electrolytes) to keep the body functioning well so that it helps us adapt to training stress and so we can perform to our potential on race day. Running is very corrosive and brings the greatest risk for injury to athletes so we want to do everything we can to reduce the risk for a setback. Wearing a hydration belt has helped us become resilient, efficient and healthy runners.
I have been very happy with my hydration belts. Currently I am wearing the Nathan Sports Trail Mix Plus 2 which I like because of the bottle placements and adjustable straps. It also has a large pouch in the back to store my phone and any other nutrition/gear.


Although Karel has worn many different hydration belts over the years since starting triathlons, he hasn't found one that perfectly works for him......until this season.


To check out Karel's feedback on the Naked Running Belt, check out this video. If you are interested in trying out a belt, you can use the discount code Trimarni15 for 15% off your order. Any questions just send us an email.