How do you hydrate?

Some of you who have been reading my blog for a while may have already come to realize that, up until recently, my preparedness for race training has been pretty amateur. I trained for my first marathon without ever wearing a running watch and without ever carrying water or fuel with me.

I drank water on my long runs of course, but I relied on the two water fountains along my out and back route for a total of four water short stops – even when I was running 20 miles.

I have always known that I could probably run better and faster if I hydrated and fueled more properly while running, but because I was never training with concern for pace in my first races and because I hated carrying excess stuff with me on my runs, I took advantage of the fact that somehow my body stores water and energy like a camel’s and just went without.

A few weeks ago I had to face the ramifications of my stubbornness when I went for a 10 mile run in the North Carolina humidity and found that the first water fountain on my route was not working. Instead of go the entire run without water, I ended up jogging/walking an extra mile or two more than I had intended just so I could make it to the second fountain before turning around and exhaustively running back to my car.

I came home and immediately (and begrudgingly) began searching the internet for a fuel belt that wouldn’t drive me completely insane.

I ended up settling on the Amphipod Full Tilt Airstretch Velocity. It had great reviews and I liked the idea of there only being one bottle and it being on my lower back instead of bouncing around at my side.

Structurally the belt is built well. The bottle slides into the pouch horizontally and an easy to deal with bungee cord goes around the lid and holds it in place. There is a zipper pocket for keys, phone, fuel, etc.

Structurally the belt is built well. The bottle slides into the pouch horizontally and an easy to deal with bungee cord goes around the lid and holds it in place. There is a zipper pocket for keys, phone, fuel, etc.

Think it was smart that they made the bottle curved and flat. It sits well on your lower back and isn't as bulky as I imagine a normal cylindrical bottle would be.

Think it was smart that they made the bottle curved and flat. It sits well on your lower back and isn’t as bulky as I imagine a normal cylindrical bottle would be.

So far I have run with the belt twice and I am still struggling to adjust to it. The first time I wore it low around my hips but it was too loose and didn’t stay put. The second time I wore it tighter and higher up, close to my belly button, and it stayed in place but felt restrictive and uncomfortable. I am really hoping I’m able to get the fit right and get used to it in my next few long runs. Apparently Run Outlet only allows returns of unused products with all the tags still on and I really am not excited about the prospect of reinvesting money and trial runs into another belt. Boo.

As for the question of what to hydrate with, I have been doing some experimentation with that as well. I was lucky enough to win a four pack of cherry limeade Nuun from Run Far Girl. It is my first time trying Nuun and I am totally loving the taste (good flavor but not disgustingly sugary like Gatorade or other sports drinks), the added benefit of caffeine in this particular variety, and knowing that the electrolytes are really helping balance me out after I sweat so much. So far, I think I prefer having a cold glass of Nuun post-run instead of carrying it with me during runs. It gets really carbonated, foamy, and warm shaking around in my water bottle and, in general, water seems to taste better to me mid-run than anything else.

My first experience with Nuun has been great. I am not much of a sports drink person but love the subtle flavor of Nuun and the Cherry Limeade is delicious.

My first experience with Nuun has been great. I am not much of a sports drink person but love the subtle flavor of Nuun and the Cherry Limeade is delicious.

It’s all a work in progress! And maybe when I finally get hydration figured out I’ll experiment with fueling during runs. I’m sure that will inspire some interesting stories…

How do you carry fluids and fuel during your long runs – fuel belt, Camelback, nothing at all? What do you like to drink during your runs?

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6 thoughts on “How do you hydrate?

  1. Ooh…I’m totally interested in this post. How did you complete a marathon (and its training) on just water? You must be amazing! Once I hit about 15 miles, I had to switch to Gatorade. Hydration was a big issue for me, and I ran the numbers, calculated sweat rate, etc., to determine that I need 30 oz. per hour. I remember that I took in 96 oz. of G2 during my last 20-mile training run…kept bottles on my porch and ran 5-mile loops (and G2 also gets foamy from being shaken, which is gross.) I crash otherwise. I have a 2-bottle Fuel Belt, and I have to cinch it super low, almost across my butt, to get it to stay put and not annoy me.

    One tip: Drink some before you leave the house. For my last few long runs, I drank about 10 oz. of G2 about 15 minutes before heading out the door.

    • Thanks for the comment! It is really interesting to me too since I am pretty new to all of it even though I have been running for like 4 years. To be really honest I am not sure how I trained for the first marathon hydrating so minimally. I drink a ton of water throughout the day every single day and I think that helps. But it is still some sort of bodily phenomenon. My training buddy used to call me a camel because I used to only drink water at the fountains during a 15+ mile run and would still have to pee multiple times along the way.

      Most sports drinks are seriously just too sugary tasting for me and will actually make me feel nauseous if I drink them too much during exercise. I totally get the importance of electrolytes but think that luckily my body has some way of keeping a pretty good balance because I have never hydrated with sports drinks during runs (except last week’s experiment with Nuun) and I have never had problems with crashing, feeling dehydration symptoms, etc. (Knock on wood.)

      I am still trying to figure out the most comfortable place/way to wear that belt. Are you pretty happy with yours? If this one doesn’t work after a few more tries I may end up having to sell it and replace it with a different style. So I am open to recommendations!

  2. I do like my belt, although for me two bottles isn’t enough. I have issues with low blood pressure, so the electrolyte/sodium balance is critical, and I needed the sodium in the G2 (I put salt packets under my tongue also before going out for long runs.) I don’t know if the four bottle version would be as comfortable, but it would be more useful. I cinched my belt so tight during my marathon (I hate bounce!) that I ended up with a deep bruise and a road rash mark after the race. If I run another marathon, I will wear the same belt but buy extra pre-filled bottles for my family to hand me during the race for switching out. Trying to drink water/G2 while running was ridiculous, but I don’t like to stop to walk…makes me tighten up immediately! Anyway, TMI–happy running, camel runner! Oh, and not to be a bugger, but don’t mix water and electrolytes to the point of hyponatremia…the water will dilute the balance!

    • Yikes. The bruise/rash sounds painful! I was FINALLY able to get my belt adjusted right this weekend to the point it would sit on my hips and be tight enough to not bounce around. Here’s hoping it doesn’t turn out to be TOO tight as my runs get longer. Thanks for the heads up I am definitely being cautious as I experiment with balancing out this hydration stuff since it is all kind of new to me.

  3. Great post, I’m in exactly the same place. I’m at 14 miles into my marathon training plan and now need to think about carrying fluid and fuel as the mileage increases. I haven’t tried Nuuns yet I’m currently using SIS tablets, berry flavour. I’m really pleased with them, they’re not too sweet or sticky much easier to use than the powered stuff, that seems to cover the kitchen with a fine dusting each time I open the lid.
    I carry two 300ml bottles with me on a Camelbak Arc, which first run out made me feel hot but now used to it. I thought my arms might hit the bottles in full swing but its fine. My problem is actually remembering to drink! I did my 14 miler yesterday and finished still carrying a full bottle !

    Not sure how much I need though??? Need to do some calculations ..

    • Thanks for commenting! The SIS tablets sound good and sound almost exactly like Nuun. Good to hear you have already found something you like. Is the Camelbak Arc a backpack or a belt? Sounds like a belt from your description but I didn’t know Camelbak made belts. I am finally getting used to my belt and figuring out the right adjustments for it after this weekend’s long run thankfully. Remembering to drink is kind of hard for me as well since I am not used to having water available to me throughout the whole run. I try and tell myself when I start out “I should drink at least every 4 miles” or something like that and when I look at my watch and see I am close to that mark will usually remember to drink. I haven’t gotten super specific about quantity that I need to drink yet but here is a link to a recent post from one of my favorite running blogs. Towards the bottom she describes the “sweat test” which helps you determine how much you typically will need to drink based on how much you sweat during exercise. Hope it helps!

      http://runfargirl.com/2013/07/22/hydration-the-breastfeeding-mother-runner-and-a-nuun-giveaway/

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