How Do Athletes Stay Hydrated While Training and Hiking?
We recently spoke to a few athletes in the Atlanta area about their hydration routines and gained insights on the products they use to stay hydrated while training. We asked a few questions about the benefits, use, ingredients, and what they look for in a hydration drink, powder, or tablet. While their strategies differ from each other, the goal remains the same: staying hydrated and energized during intense physical exercise. We compiled their answers here for you.
Note: This article does not condone the use of the following products as a supplement for a healthy diet. Sugar consumed in excess can be stored as fat, which is counterproductive to your end goal of improving performance. Also, the use of caffeine as a means to enhance a workout is inappropriate if it is being used as a replacement to hard work or effort. Instead, caffeine, when used appropriately, in conjunction to eating and sleeping properly, can maximize training and performance.
At Fit For Trips, we believe that your training objective for each week is to get better and make progress toward your ultimate goal, such as running a faster 10k race, summiting Kilimanjaro after 9 days of trekking, or keeping up with an ultra-fit hiking group.
What are some of the best hydration drinks and products on the market, and what benefits do they give you?
- Tailwind Raspberry Buzz – Easily digestible calories and electrolytes during exercise.
- nuun IMMUNITY or REST – Good low calorie / low sugar to encourage you to drink all day.
- Skratch LABS Sport Hydration drink mix – Rescue for extreme dehydration.
- Walmart Electrolyte Water – Feeling more hydrated and less fatigued during workouts.
- Spring Energy – Hydration and energy for longer runs.
What hydration bladder, hydration vest, hydration pack, etc. do you use to carry your hydration drink and water in when you hike or run?
- Camelbak Backpack with Nathan bladder (sometimes the Camelbak bladder seems closed but isn’t).
- Women’s specific Nathan VaporAiress that carries a 2 liter bladder and optional small flask in the front pockets. It has plenty of pockets to store nutrition.
- Nathan VaporKrar Hydration 12 liter vest with a 2 liter bladder and 2 small flasks.
What is your strategy for sipping your hydration drink and consuming plain water to stay hydrated while running and training?
- Use hydration drink when fatigue sets in, or every half hour or hour depending on the workout.
- Plain water for shorter runs and Tailwind Endurance Fuel for very hot days and longer distances.
- Carry plain water in a large bladder and keep mix in a smaller flask.
Besides pre-mixed hydration drinks, what tablets or powders do you use?
- Hydration Tablets:
- BASE Performance electrolyte salts (You can lick this one off of your thumb)
- nuun SPORT (during exercise)
- Hydration Powders:
How would you say the hydration products listed above compare to the typical Gatorade and Powerade you grab from the convenience store or grocery?
- Easier on the stomach.
- Not as much sugar.
- Not too sweet.
- No stomachache or cramps.
- Much better taste.
- Better formulated.
- Balanced and easier to transport.
What ingredients do you look for in a hydration powder, drink or tablet?
- Sugar (fructose/dextrose)
When would you use a hydration formula that has caffeine?
“The best times to use a hydration formula with caffeine are before more intense workouts or longer runs, later in a race to get an extra boost when you start dragging, and when you’re feeling extra tired before a training, run, or race. I like caffeine most of the time, however, when I ran the Alien Half, a nighttime race, I did not drink caffeine.”
When would you use a hydration drink, powder or tablet that has natural sugar?
“Not a hydration formula, but I like the Honey Stinger Waffles for fuel and also give them to my dogs. I give my dogs Tailwind, as well.
That being said, most people I talk to don’t worry too much about natural sugar when they workout. For those that do, they think it tastes better (not as sweet or artificial), goes down easier, and doesn’t cause stomach issues.”
Skratch Labs Sport Hydration formula has cane sugar and dextrose that provides me energy during a workout and/or quicker recovery after.
What is the difference between a pre-, during and post- hydration formula?
“Pre- and during should have more ingredients, such as caffeine, calories, and electrolytes, to help keep your energy up and make your workout stronger and longer. Those ingredients, found in RunGum, Skratch, and Tailwind, are also good for harder efforts or at the end of longer runs. Post- would have more ingredients that help your body recover, like the protein in Orgain Protein Powder. Protein and carbs are what help the body repair itself and are found in products like Floyd’s Recovery and Tailwind Recovery. More electrolytes are also important during and after a workout or run.”
SO NOW WHAT?
Fit For Trips often recommends that our readers get in shape for hiking not just by hiking, but also training at home and/or in the gym. To enhance your training intensity, adapt one or several of the hydration strategies above. Additionally, test the recommendations above to fuel long or difficult hikes, treks, or backpacking trips and your recovery thereafter.
THIS NEXT QUESTION IS FOR YOU:
Are you going to experiment with the above hydration drinks during hiking and training?
Now’s the time to determine how you will stay hydrated, energetic, and recover rapidly.
Feel free to leave a reply in the comment section below regarding your experience with the strategies above, or detail your own personal strategy.
Kate Brun is an endurance addict and adventure seeker with 15+ years’ experience in the specialty running industry. She has an extreme passion for helping others stay active and healthy and to live life to the fullest.
Do you have an adventure trip coming up and want to learn more about hydration and fitness? Contact us now to set up your free fitness consultation.