5 Ways to Hydrate in a Race


There are a surprising number of ways to hydrate during a race. Maybe relying on the water stops works for you; maybe they’ve let you down in the past. Today I’m sharing some of the ways I’ve hydrated in races (and one way I’ve yet to try).


Today I am joining up with the  Friday Five 2.0  from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to talk about 5 reasons I love racing.

Rely on water stops
There’s the obvious choice: simply rely on the water stops. When you’re BOTP, however, you can’t always expect that water will be waiting for you. Sometimes you can’t expect it if you’re fast!

Some of my best races have been races where I did choose to rely on water stops. For most races that are 55F or more, I usually have at least one alternative handy.

That handheld bottle in my left hand helped in a miserable race

Use a handheld water bottle
I know, I know, you’re thinking you would hate to ever have to hold a water bottle in your hand. That’s what I thought, too, until I won a small handheld water bottle one day and then tried it.

Those little handheld bottles have helped me get through more than one race when the water stops, for whatever reason, were out of water or cups. Most have a small pocket, which allows you to carry keys or gels, too.

There’s no getting around the fact that it can alter your gait, and yes, it can be a little tiring for your arms. The good news is that it gets lighter as you drink your water.

Love Amphipod products

Use a fuel belt
I used a fuel belt in the beginning for quite a few races. I settled one from Amphipod, similar to this one (Amazon Affiliate link), and I loved the fact that it was easily customizable.

I could carry four 10 ounce water bottles and have pockets for my fuel and phone, too. It was comforting to know I could carry all my own water (and not have to worry about fighting over to a water stop in large races) and be able to drink when I was thirsty.

Eventually, however, I got tired of the bouncing and the fact that it would cause chafing on my back.

The small ones fit in my pockets — my go-to way to carry water in a race

Flipbelt water bottles
This is my current method of choice to carry a little water with me in a longer race. As you can see, I have tried a lot of different methods, and they all have their pros and cons. this past training cycle (spring 2017) I’ve been experimenting with drinking more water on the run.

I don’t like large belts around my middle, but it is a good way to carry water!

I love the fact that the 6 ounce Flipbelt water bottle (Amazon Affiliate link) will fit into a pocket, whether that pocket is on a coat, a skirt, tights or capris. I’m covered if I get thirsty between water stops and I can also have the volunteers refill my water bottles, although be aware that sometimes they aren’t really prepared for that and you might lose more time than you’d like.

Use a hydration pack
I haven’t yet tried a hydration pack. I know that people seem to really like them and it sounds appealing to have your hands free and more water at your disposal.

I worry about tearing up my pretty running clothes. I know fuel belts used to do that.

So let me know in the comments:

Do you use a hydration pack? Does it rough up your running clothes?

What’s your preferred way to hydrate in a race?

Have you ever weighed yourself before & after a run to determine your hydration needs ?

32 thoughts on “5 Ways to Hydrate in a Race

  1. I found that the handheld water bottle works best for me. It’s a little akward for the first mile but then after that I barely remember that I’m holding it. I tried a few fuel belts but they didn’t work that well for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know I don’t drink enough water.

    That being said, I’ve tried carry a water bottle. I don’t like it in a race. I need my hands free. Luckily it has never been a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I tried a handheld water bottle and hated it! I really did try and I thought I would like it. Now I’m looking at a running belt to help keep me hydrated. It’s so dry in Colorado and the first longer run I did outside left me parched. I need water when I’m running.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Because of your suggestion on a previous post, I did get the bottle for the flip belt and I love it! I am still undecided on if I should wear it for my NCY half next weekend but so far it hasn’t really bothered me so I guess nothing wrong with bringing it anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you like it! I don’t really like the flipbelt that much — just something about having something around my middle — but I always have a pocket, so I usually have room for 2 of the small bottles.


  5. I can’t use a handheld…they just aren’t comfortable in my tiny hands. Belts do annoy me but I usually use one. I do have a pack which is pretty comfortable but cleaning it is a pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m one of those thirsty runners – so for runs 10k or less I carry Salomon Sense Hydro S-Lab handheld soft flasks. These are great as they’re ultra light soft flasks attached with a palm strap and a bungee to secure the flask. There’s no need to ‘hold’ onto the flask, unless you want to, as it’s well-secured by the palm strap and there’s no water sloshing (a big plus for me!). When empty – the flask is nearly weightless and easy to stow if need be. It works really well on these cold frigid days we’ve had as my hand keeps the contents from freezing – which I’ve had trouble with when using bottles and the soft flasks in my hydration vest. Which is….
    the Ultimate Direction Jenny Collection: Ultra Vesta. I use this for my longer road and (when I can get to them) trail runs. This is a classic-styled hydration pack made just for us girls. I really love it as it does everything I want it to do and I barely know it’s there – no chaffing, rubbing or bouncing to be had. I especially like its capability to accommodate my trekking poles, and it’s very light weight – 8.6 oz. (11.06 oz. with soft flasks). It has storage capability galore and extremely easy access to all pockets and stowaway spots. I’ll use it on my (first ever!) ultra trail marathon this June – then I’ll have even more to say about its performance!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have become very used to handheld as well, I carried it with my last few races and just refilled it, I did lose time doing that but i had Gatorade when I wanted it. My hydration pack has made a few rough spots on my tops because as it gets lighter it moves just a little. I try to not wear my favorite shirt. I couldn’t make it in summer here without it though, it is just too humid.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love my waist belts for hydration! I like my own personal sports drink, so that’s what I carry with me in them. Depending on how long the race is though, and how hot, I have to refill along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I only rely on aid stations if I’m purely racing and need to be light on my feet. Otherwise I usually carry my own hydration. I much prefer the pack to the belt. The belt bounces around, doesn’t have a big enough pocket for my phone, and sometimes it presses on my gut and stirs up GI issues. The pack doesn’t bounce, has plenty of storage, and is so easy to use and carry hydration and fuel. Sometimes it feels like overkill for 6 miles but if it’s hot I end up guzzling anyway. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have tried many options for hydration as well. All have pros and all have cons. UGH. I have one belt that has left a lot of nasty snags on my shirts. Another belt bounces. I have a hands-free hydration pack…it’s very convenient, but I seldom need as much water as it’s capable of holding. I carried an ergonomic 8-oz. handheld bottle for Route 66 (and refilled it at the water stations as needed). Being a small bottle, one would not think it could get heavy (and it truly did not feel heavy at the time), but my triceps were a knotted, achy mess when I crossed the finish line. I think I prefer the water stations LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Triceps? Interesting! Usually it gets me in the biceps. But of course there’s a big difference between a half and a full.

      I’d like to rely on water stations, but being a lot slower than you — I’ve found I really can’t. I’ve had multiple races ruined by water stations out of either cups or water.


  11. I’m from Arizona, so I’ve used them all, ;D
    I always have a hand-held… I can’t change a 35+-year habit, especially with water.
    However, I have used a pack, and I think they are awesome. If you refrigerate them all night, they cool off your back if it’s a warm day, and it’s certainly better than running out of water.
    And with James’s marathons, he prefers training with a pack. However, on race day, he relies on the aid stations, no matter how sparse. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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