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 …
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?