Saying it’s hot outside is probably an understatement for most of us right now. Running hydration is an important topic year-round, but it’s especially important during these hot and humid months when you are sweating more than normal. In humid climates, your body is working even harder as evaporation rates are slowed.
If you’re running outdoors, you need to find a way to stay hydrated throughout your run. This question has come up with several of my running athletes over the past month and there are several different approaches you can try. I’ve asked some of my running coach friends to share their favorite way to bring water on the run — so you have plenty of choices to choose from!
What is the best way to carry your water?
For shorter runs and races, I often use a handheld bottle (amazon affiliate link) as a lightweight option to carry my water and electrolytes. If you don’t mind holding something in your hand, this is a very comfortable solution and the “handle” makes it easy to carry the bottle without much effort.
On a hot day, filling the bottle with cold water can add a bit of relief to your run. Especially if you refill with cold water along the course as your bottle warms up. The trade-off, is that cold bottle during the winter can add to the chill.
Hydration Backpack or Vest
If you’re looking for a hands-free option, a running hydration backpack or vest can be a great solution. I use a running backpack by Nathan (amazon affiliate link) for longer runs and am really enjoying the freedom it provides. I also use the extra pockets to stash my phone, chapstick or aquaphor tube, and my car keys.
Katie and Sandra are also fans of this option:
“I get really annoyed holding items in my hands while running, so a hydration pack is a must for me! For anything over five miles, this camel back goes on and I stay hydrated! I’ve run half marathons while wearing the pack and without (stopping at water stops instead), but I much prefer drinking out of the backpack as needed and forgoing the water stop crowds. My particular model is older and not made anymore, but it’s a women’s fit hydration pack for runners. It looks like the charm is a close match! “ – Katie, Running Coach (BAMRBands.com)
“When I am training for long distance trail running and marathons I always wear a hydration vest. I love the comfort in wearing a pack that is lightweight and has breathable fabrics. The ability to carry plenty of water for hydration along with any other foods to fuel me along the way plus any extra gear that I may need such as gloves, a lightweight hat, or my phone makes this the perfect running accessory. The two brands that I prefer are UltrAspire and Nathan.” – Sandra, Running Coach (Organic Runner Mom)
Another popular hands-free option is a running belt, which I used for years in training and racing. For those who don’t want the weight of the backpack on their shoulders, the belt option shifts that weight to your waist. I would recommend testing out both options, to see which style is more comfortable to you. This comes down mostly to a personal preference for most people!
A bonus option for moms and dads running with kids is to use their running stroller for hydration storage! As Lauren describes below, she regularly runs with her girls and has taken advantage of that extra space on wheels!
“As a mom of 2 and a marathon runner, I bring my girls with me while running most days. Since we have the jogging stroller (a double BOB) for most of our long runs, we bring water and sippy cups, as well as a ton of toddler snacks in the stroller to stay hydrated and fuel our runs. “As a mom, my runs are never perfect, but they are always fun- every run is an adventure.” – Lauren, Running Coach (Lauren Bolidzar)
Water on Your Route
Even if you don’t want to carry water, that’s not an excuse to skip hydration. As Jasmin and Amber explain, you can also plan your route where you know there are water stops along the way — or even stash bottles along the route ahead of time!
“I like to travel light when I run, so my strategy is to plan a route where I can stop at a park, my house or a friends house to get a drink! It’s a fun way to break up the run and bring some fun in the middle of my miles!!” – Jasmin, Running Coach (Coach Jasmin)
“Over the years I’ve tried hand held water systems and belts but nothing has really stuck. Instead I plan my running routes through parks with water fountains or stash water bottles a head of time.” – Amber, Triathlon Coach (Eat to Save Your Life)
Test Your Hydration Options
There really are a lot of options to choose from and there is no best answer for everyone. Even among this group of running coaches, you see how many different opinions there are! Take the time to try different options – purchase from a store that offers easy returns (even after using the product) or borrow from friends for a test run. It’s hard to know what you will like until you’re actually out on a run!
For some runners, your location will limit your options. I moved to a hydration backpack this year, because I needed more fluid storage for my routes. In my area, it’s common to run over 10 miles without passing a refueling station – there are no water fountains along most of our trails! When I lived in Atlanta, however, most routes had water fountains along the way, which gave me more flexibility to try different options.
Have a suggestion for carrying your water (and electrolytes) on the run? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!