Friday, August 28, 2009

No Excuse for Skipping Hydration

What's the most popular accessory for carrying your water and sports drinks when you're out and about? I wish I knew the answer, but I can only surmise based on observations and personal preference. But with all of the options out there, you can't really have an excuse for not staying hydrated even if you're just scouting out the nearby water fountain. Here are a few that I've spotted on the go this summer.

Camelbak--or the like--hydration packs: These backpacks with straws (that's what I call it at least) conveniently draped over the shoulder make hydrating on-the-go almost too easy, especially if you don't want to dig in a bag for a water bottle or search for a water fountain. These are really popular while hiking, and I've seen some people sporting them while running and walking. I find it easy to use while cycling, especially on century rides and lately I've spotted triathletes using them during races (and I thought I was one of the few who used it while racing a few years ago, but earlier in the month I must have seen at least five triathletes wearing them on the 56-mile bike).

Water bottles: This is the option I think I spot the most often. We'll buy them as singles or in 24-packs at the grocery store, grab them from volunteers after a race, tote them to the beach or to work. And they're easy to fill with our favorite combination of fluid whether it be straight-up tap water, PUR-filtered water, a sports drink or even watered-down juice.

Fuel Belt or any other brand of belt with bottles: Popular among runners, especially half marathoners and marathoners, these are great for carrying a sports drink for those long miles where you know you need something besides water from the water fountain (that's me and my Lakefront runs) or you're going out in the middle of nowhere and know you won't be getting fuel unless you bring your own.

Aerobottles like the Aerodrink: They take on different names and looks but these are a step up from a traditional water bottle and fit in between the aerobars and a handy way to stay fueled during a triathlon. Fill them with any combination of water, sports drink, energy fuel (like Hammer Nutrition products, Accelerade or Infinit). Then when you're racing you don't have to reach down or behind you to pick up a water bottle, just bend down a pinch and sip from the straws. Another one of my faves.

Hand-held or waist-wrap bottle carriers: I don't know about you, but it's tough to carry a water bottle as is while on the run because it can easily slip out of your grip. These holders make it a lot easier by either strapping the bottle around your hand or slipping into a holder that wraps like a fanny pack around your waist. Not to go back to triathlons again, but I've seen a lot of people sporting these, especially the hand-held ones, on the run leg so they can hydrate before waiting for a water station to pop up. Some companies making these include RoadRunner Sports, Asics, Brooks, Fuel Belt, Ultimate Direction, Nike, Amphipod and Nathan.

Hydration stations: OK, this obviously isn't an accessory but at least here in Chicago we're fortunate enough to have a great bunch of volunteers who come out on Saturday mornings at points along the 18 miles of Lakefront Path to set up tables filled with water and Gatorade. It's just like being at a race where you can help yourself and then you don't even have to carry your own fuel.

Water fountains: What's not to love about the good ol' water fountain? It's usually an easy find in a public spot, so you don't have to always worry about bringing your own fuel. That's a plus in my book--I like to carry as little as possible when I run, even trying to leave my house keys behind if someone's at home. I wish all running routes had water fountains as accessible as my home base Lakefront. I know where nearly all of the water fountains are on the Path so I can stop and sip as I please. The only problem is in the winter and early spring when the fountains are turned off, but six to eight months--maybe even more depending on the weather--out of the year isn't worth complaining about.

So with all of these options, how do you stay hydrated? Photo grabbed from Mike Schmid at flickr. Posted by Kate


  1. Lucky you! The only people who get hydration stations along DC-area trails are those doing Team-in-Training or similar, which really just makes the rest of us jealous when we run by. I've never asked for a drink, but I bet if I looked desperate enough they wouldn't turn me away.

  2. Really? I'm shocked DC doesn't have something like that organized. I guess you have more of a trail system and we just have the lakefront? Now the key is to get lockers on the lakefront--stay tuned for a post on that. NYC has a sweet runner's station along the west side highway.

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