Tag Archives: hydration

Cold weather hydration tips

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running below zero

I know, I know we’re half way through February and I’m just now giving you cold weather hydration tips.  But here in Michigan – it hasn’t been cold!  I suppose everyone who reads my blog doesn’t live in Michigan though.  Perhaps you’ll find some of these tips useful.  Worst case, we can pull them out again next year a little earlier in the year.

So while it hasn’t been too awfully cold this year, I do live in Michigan.  It does get cold and I’ve run for multiple hours below zero in a single run.  People have asked me – how do you keep your hydration from freezing?  I’ve asked other people how they keep their hydration from freezing.  Here’s what I’ve learned from my winters of running …

  1. The smaller belt clip bottles from Amphipod and the like don’t work for long runs.  I’ve literally had to throw them on the ground mid run to try to break up the ice to get to any water from them.  No, I have nothing against Amphipod, I wear their Xinglet on every run.  The problem with the bottles though – they’re too small so they freeze up quickly.  And since they’re small, I’d need multiple on a long run and that meant I didn’t get to all of them frequently enough to keep them moving and ice free.
  2. Preheat bottles before your run.  Whether you take warm water, mix your drink with warm water, or stick them in a pot of hot water – make sure it’s warm when you leave.  This serves two purposes – obviously it takes longer to freeze, but the warmth against your body will be nice as your body warms up at the start of the run.  I’ve had UD bottles out for 2 hours, below freezing (low teens I believe) and kept them flowing this way.  By the time I got home my Tailwind was a bit slushy, but I could drink it.  If you drink the Tailwind when it’s still warm – it’s not bad at all.  Warm water, eh, I don’t love it, but if it allows me to drink I live with it.
  3. If you use the UD bottles, squeeze a little air through the valve after your drink.  I suppose this would work with any bottle really.  This clears any liquid that might freeze the valve shut.
  4. If your hydration pack fits under your jacket – wear it under your jacket.  Mine fit under my old jacket and the warmth of the body keeps everything flowing.  You look silly, yes, but you can still drink when you’re 2+ hours into a run.  Besides, if it’s -3 who else is outside to see you look silly?
  5. Hydration bladders can be tricky.  Once you take a drink, blow the tube clean of liquid.  The tube will freeze quickly otherwise.  Realize as you blow back into the tube – you’re pressurizing your hydration pack.  This may force liquid back into the tube if there’s too much air in the bladder.  It’s a delicate balance and one that I got wrong yesterday.  I had to run the last hour w/o any hydration after my tube froze.  If you’re using the hydration bladder, stick the end under your, or down your shirt, to keep the valve from freezing.
  6. Drink more often.  The more often you drink, the more often the bottles are used / moved.  This motion keeps them, and the valves, ice free longer.  Set a reminder on your watch to drink.
  7. Pick a loop that keeps you close to home / car / something else where you can replenish your hydration if things do freeze.  If you leave water in your car, make sure it’s warm and in a thermos.  Otherwise it will freeze too.

Those are my cold weather hydration tips after a few years of running through Michigan winters.  Do you have any others to add?

 

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Fueling and Hydration

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Fuel for the 2016 Yankee Springs Winter Challenge

My race fuel for the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge arrived.  As I pack it away in my race vest, prepping for the coming race, I’m thinking about hydration and race day fuel.

I’ve spent much time trying to figure out the best way for me to hydrate / fuel for my training and races – either by trying different things or reading about what works for others.

I’m a runner w/Crohn’s disease, so that affects what I put in my body pre-race, and during the run.  I typically go for things that are low in fiber / carbonation the day before, and during, my race.  Those two items don’t sit well with my Crohn’s.

I love beer, but it’s not what I choose to carbo-load with.  The carbonation in it is very uncomfortable for my Crohn’s.  I’m also a big fan of Clif bars, but they don’t go near me before a race.  I’ve tried it; it wasn’t fun.  After a race, sure, they’re both usually the first thing I consume.

I’m sure things vary from person to person, but I thought it’d be worth sharing where I’ve landed.  Perhaps it helps.  Or perhaps it at least gives you some things to try – even if you’re not a runner with Crohn’s (and I’m guessing most of you aren’t).

A couple of my baseline rules are:

  1. No beer / chicken wings / Chinese / ghost pepper sauce the night before any race, or a training run longer than 6 miles.
  2. Drink water.  All the time, regardless of whether I am running the next day.  Staying hydrated makes me generally feel good.  If I’m not enjoying a Michigan beer, or a stout cup of coffee, I pretty much only drink water.

I wear a UD SJ 2.0 vest to accommodate my fuel / hydration (amongst other things – we’ll get into that in another post).  I love this vest (you can see it in the picture below).  At this point, it’s pretty much like wearing a seatbelt – I wear it on every run.

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recent grocery run, featuring the Ultimate Direction SJ 2.0 vest

Training run: If I’m running less than 10 miles, I fill both bottles with water only.  I don’t need both bottles full, but I like the balance it provides having them equal weight.  My watch alerts me to drink every 10 minutes and I rotate between the bottles to evenly distribute the weight through the run.

If I’m running 10 miles, or more, I fill one, or two, bottles with two scoops of Tailwind – one caffeinated and one non-caffeinated.  Each bottle provides me with 200 calories and 16oz of hydration.  Since the calories and electrolytes are in the liquid, I don’t have to mess w/carrying gels.  Or stuffing messy gel packets in my pockets.

If it’s a really long training run, I’ll utilize the 70oz hydration pack that slides into the UD vest, and mix it at the same ratio of 200 calories per 16oz – half caffeinated and half non-caffeinated.

The combo of raspberry buzz / lemon Tailwind go together very well.

Marathon: Two 16oz bottles can’t get me through a marathon and a 70oz hydration pack isn’t very conducive to running fast.  After doing some research I found that some folks mix their tailwind to a higher concentration.  I tried this during my last marathon and it worked fabulously.

In each 16oz bottle I mixed 4 scoops (4o0 calories – again half and half) so I was carrying 32oz with me and 800 calories.  At the end of each mile I took a small squirt of liquid – alternating between bottles, again to keep them balanced.  This made the bottles last through the marathon.

I tested this ratio prior to the race to ensure my body was good with it.

However, since I wanted to drink more than 32oz over the course of the 4 hours+, I supplemented the hydration side with water at each aid station.

The bottles in the vest took care of the calories / electrolytes and the extra water from the aid stations kept me hydrated.

I ran a PR at that marathon – 3:56:58.

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ultra setup – a stick of Tailwind in each

50k: I move slow enough during an ultra to carry the hydration pack, but I don’t – that’d be dumb with the aid that’s available.  Pre-race, I fill both of my 16oz bottles with 2 scoops of Tailwind (200 calories each bottle).  This time I mix one bottle caffeinated and one bottle non-caffeinated.  I start the race with these in my vest along with a number of Tailwind sticks.

Rather than alternate drinks in each bottle during the race, I typically down an entire bottle first.  This makes refilling one bottle, vs. two partial bottles, much easier at the aid stations.  That convenience is worth more to me than the minor imbalance the bottles create.  At aid stations, I fill the empty bottle and fill with one of the aforementioned Tailwind sticks, shake, and go.  It works out pretty quickly and stuffing the empty Tailwind packet in my pocket isn’t as gooey and sticky as an empty gel.

The Tailwind provides me the calories / electrolytes / hydration I need through the race.  So far, I haven’t had to eat anything else during an ultra.  But – I haven’t run anything farther than 34 miles yet either.

Pre-race: There are times in life I still feel like a big kid.  My pre-race dinner is one of these occasions.  I eat Kraft mac and cheese w/hotdogs.  Seriously.  It’s a bland meal, provides some extra carbs, and is comforting as it reminds me of childhood.  The salt in the hotdogs make me drink a little extra the night before the race.  It’s wondrous.

The morning of the race I get up and eat a peanut butter and jelly a couple of hours before I run.  Again, simple and bland – easy on the ole’ gut, but it helps me start the race without feeling hungry.

After that it’s me and Tailwind until the finish.  So far that’s worked out well.  We’ll get a chance to test it again in a few short days.

How do you fuel / hydrate for races?

Do you choose different methods for different distances?

What’s your pre-race meal of choice?