It's essential to seamlessly merge your fuel and hydration strategies since most runners are now sourcing their energy or "fuel" predominantly from gels. The emphasis has shifted towards maintaining a good electrolyte balance through hydration rather than sourcing carbs (unless you hate gels, and I have an option for you as well)
I've outlined three strategies below for you to consider. Each one has its merits, so feel free to choose the one that suits you best:
Option 1: Running with a Bottle (Plus Gels)
If your runs often exceed an hour, carrying hydration is wise. You can opt for a handheld run bottle or a Nathan hydration vest for comfortable carry options. Since your primary carb source is gels, your drink should aim to balance your electrolyte levels. Here are a few of my go-to options:
- Skratch: A classic choice with a light flavor
- Gnarly: A bit stronger in flavor, with less sugar compared to Skratch
- Powerbar IsoActive: Great taste without breaking the bank
A little tip: On out-and-back routes, I sometimes leave my bottle at the halfway point to avoid carrying it the entire way while still staying well-hydrated.
Option 2: Running Without a Bottle (Gels Only)
When I'm running for less than 90 minutes outdoors, this is my typical strategy unless it is scorching. It relies heavily on hydrating sufficiently before and after the run. Here are a few products that I stand by for pre-run hydration where I want electrolytes but low to no sugar:
- SIS Hydrotabs: Great value and a light flavor
- Rawvelo: Real Food fueling that is delicious
- BPN Electrolytes: Fantastic flavors with a good sodium content
- SOS Daily Hydration: Another flavor winner
Option 3: Running with Hydration and Fuel in a Bottle (No Gels)
If gels aren't your favorite, carrying a bottle or two filled with a hydrating and fueling drink is a solid strategy. While Maurten Drink 160 and SIS Go Electrolytes are traditional choices, here are some newer ones to consider:
- Naak Ultra Energy: High carb and sodium content
- Victus During: Tasty and easy to drink
- Spring Energy Juice Mix: Real Food Drink that is packed with carbs.
- Flow Formula High Electrolyte: High in carbs and sodium
I look forward to the next installment, where I'll discuss high-performance and recovery strategies for your run.
Enjoy your run!