Hydration Staples for Trail Running, Road Running, and Crossfit

So……thirsty. You know the feeling. Nix that with the tastiest hydration drinks and convenient packs, bottles and handhelds for all types of workouts. 

What do you trail lovers, road runners, and crossfitters all have in common? Not much. Just kidding. You all need to effectively quench your thirst during your workouts. But sometimes that’s more challenging than it seems it should be. It’s difficult to find comfortable and functional water bottles or packs and hydration drinks that actually quench your thirst and don’t taste like licking a chalkboard. Thankfully, our nutrition and accessories experts have shared their top picks for each sport.

Hop on a link below to learn more about the importance of running hydration before checking out our best recommendations to keep you fueled up.

Staying Hydrated

Over half of your body is made up of water—without enough of it, your systems start to struggle, so staying hydrated is a must.

Every single cell, tissue, and organ depends on plenty of water to function properly. The fluid not only helps maintain your body temperature and flush out toxins, but it also transports critical oxygen and nutrients throughout your bloodstream—keeping you energized and functioning at your finest.

Proper hydration is the pathway to improved health, and the importance of water is stressed for athletes and non-athletes alike. But exercise and running hydration is paramount when battling an elevated heart rate, higher body temps, and fluid loss through sweat.

H2O lubricates your joints, keeping your hips and knees nice and happy under repetitive impact, and prevents you from getting overheated as you log lots of miles or push the pace on a tempo run.

Simply put, hydration while running helps your body perform at its optimal level.

Without enough water, you’ll probably start to experience sluggishness, dizziness, and muscle cramping… and those symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg before more serious signs of dehydration start to kick in.

Hydration before Running

The proper balance between water and electrolytes hits the chemical sweet spot for peak performance—whether you’re a recreational jogger or serious pavement pounder. Even mild dehydration can deplete your energy levels and cause massive headaches, leaving you not in the mood for much fun.

One of the best ways to stay hydrated while running is to make sure you drink up before hand, ensuring your body runs like a well-oiled machine on your ride.

How much water should you drink before you run?

Most people should shoot for 64 oz. of water intake every day, but athletes require even more. Running hydration depends on a number of factors, including heat, humidity, and sweat, but the American Council on Exercise (ACE) generally suggests drinking 17-20 oz. of water two hours before running.

Hydration while Running

Battling exhausting and fluid loss is no easy challenge (as you probably well know), so learning the best way to stay hydrated while running is lesson 101. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to hydrate while running—that’s usually a sign that dehydration has already began to set in.

Is it okay to drink water while running?

Yes! And very encouraged. ACE recommends drinking 7-10 oz. of fluid every 10-20 minutes while exercising to fight off fatigue and dehydration.

You’ve probably heard of—or complained about—that uncomfortable sloshy feeling from hydrating while running. Yeah… that’s probably user error.

You might have followed mistaken guidelines that led you to intake more than necessary. Or maybe you waited too long to hydrate while running, and to make up for it, knocked back your water bottle, desperately guzzling down some H2O to the point of regret.

By learning the best way to stay hydrated while running, you can avoid those gruesome feelings of nausea and bloating—which aren’t exactly conducive to a stellar run.

So what’s the best way to stay hydrated while running? You have a few different options. Hint: rehydration and electrolyte balancing is easier in the presence of sodium, which gets massively depleted through sweat (ever notice those salty stains on your athletic wear?).

All around Pick: nuun performance for superior hydration

Let’s start with what to drink. Whether your workout requires weight lifting, hours of hiking or hitting the pavement in the hot sun for 10 miles, you need to be properly hydrated. I’m not talking just water, here. Let’s not be so basic. You need more than that. nuun Performance has an optimized blend of carbohydrates and electrolytes to help you hydrate efficiently and perform better during intense workouts. And the ingredients are SUPER clean – certified non-GMO, vegan and gluten-free – so technically Paleo, right crossfitters? 😉 Pure ingredients means it’s easier on fussy stomachs. Try nuun Performance in Blueberry Strawberry or Orange Mango. SO much tastier than water during a tough workout.

Check out more nuun hydration and performance products 

How to carry water while running?

So you know the important of running hydration and you need easy access to fluid supply during exercise, but what’s the best way to bring along the essential supplies? Here are our top picks divvied up by sport.

Functional and Comfy Bottle Belt and Quick Grip for Road Runners

Nathan Bottle BeltCamelback Handheld bottle

Nathan Insulated 2 Bottle Belt and Camelbak Quick Grip Chill

Carrying a bottle while running is a hassle (first world problems). You’re off balance, your grip fails as your mileage increases and you can’t use that hand to change your playlist or take Instagram selfies while running. Ughhhhhh. Camelbak and Nathan to the rescue! Nathan’s Insulated 2 Bottle Belt features two 10 ounce reflective and insulated flasks to keep your water cooler, longer. And you can stash your gels and phone in the front pouch. If you prefer a larger bottle, try Camelbak’s Quick Grip Chill. Its zip pocket fits most phones and the always open, always shut self-sealing Jet Valve makes drinking on the run easier (for sloppy water drinkers like me).

Our Favorite Hydration Vest for Trail Runners

Ultimate Direction Vest BlueUltimate Direction Vest Yellow Red

Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 in Graphite and Canyon

Is this love? I think it might be. This vest is perfect for competitive racers and for everyday runners who don’t pay attention to their hydration needs but should totally start to. It was designed by the impressive and seemingly unstoppable trail runner extraordinaire, Scott Jurek, and features an upper reservoir-compatible pouch, unique on-the-go trekking pole holders and two bottle holsters.

The Best Water Bottle for Crossfit

Hydroflask graphiteHydroflask blue

Hydro Flask in Graphite and Pacific 

There’s nothing like feeling absolutely unstoppable as you push through deadlifts, burpees (everyone’s favorite exercise) and sailing through AMRAPs. But when you’re thirsty or lacking in electrolytes, it not only saps your power, but can become dangerous, especially for the intense workouts crossfitters tackle.

Make sure you have water accessible, and in a large enough quantity. Forget crappy plastic water bottles. Invest in a Hydro Flask 32 ounce wide mouth. It’s BPA-free, keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours and ensures that you’re staying fully hydrated because you’re drinking, not sipping, through the wide mouth opening.

Best hydrating foods for runners

You can also eat your hydration, both during exercise and on a regular basis.

Water-rich foods assist in hydration while running, plus they’re super refreshing and filled with tons of nutrients. Roughly 20% of your daily H2O intake comes from solid whole foods, namely fruits and veggies such as celery, radishes, and cucumbers.

Looking for the best foods to refuel hydration during your ride? Heavy protein bars might feel a little difficult to digest while running, but salt tabs, energy gels, and chews are seriously life-savers, rich in nutrients and easy to quickly get down.

Whether you drink water, sports drinks, or eat nutritious foods, hydration should be at the top of your priority list if peak performance is what you’re looking for.

Use these suggestions for the best ways to stay hydrated for your activity, what to consume, and how to carry it—to stay at the tip top of your A game.

Sam is a runner (who’s unapologetic about not always running all the time) who loves hills. She’s a fan of taking #photoswhilerunning, spending time in nature with her husband and loving on any and all animals, especially her cat. Her other passions include social media (she’s the social media manager at Road Runner Sports) and content marketing. Follow her on Twitter at @SamKerstetter and Instagram at @shosenka7. 

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