On the Bike Hydration Strategies
Drinking on the bike requires a certain level of skill, especially for the beginner. A good place to start is on the stationary trainer. Practice removing your water bottle from the cage and drinking while looking forward. You will need to learn to do this smoothly without taking your eyes off the road.
A water bladder such as a Camelbak is a great tool for staying hydrated. Although these are not quite in style yet with the cycling crowd they have distinct advantages over traditional water bottles. Water bladders hold more fluid which means less stopping for refills. They also stay colder, and can even be frozen. Cool fluid helps keep you cool as does the coldness of the pack on your back. It is even more aerodynamic. I have found athletes take in more fluid using a water bladder but they do take some getting used to.
Triathletes use various fluid reservoirs affixed to their bikes. Again, these mean less stopping to replenish fluids and more consistent hydration on long rides.
Simply having enough fluid does no good if you do not drink it. Even a 1-2% drop in body weight due to fluid loss can drastically effect endurance. A good strategy is to set your watch alarm to sound every 15 minutes and to drink 4-6 ounces of fluid from whatever container works best for you.
Drinking on the Run
Hydration on long runs is not as easy as on a bike, unless you are skilled at carrying a water bottle. This of course may affect performance and comfort. Some more convenient methods may include tying a neoprene adjustable handstrap that fits over the hand and water flask. However, many runners are concerned with the aerodynamics, and anything moving against the wind flow may have a negative effect on performance.
A waist pack soft-shell canteen with a belt and straw may offer some convenience. This is comparable to the water bladders mentioned above and may feel heavy for many runners. It also has a tendency to cause blisters and rashes for runs in a greater than 20 mile range. Water may even taste stale after being on the road for a few hours.
To save on weight, a single-bottle waist pack may be an option. There are many variations of this style. Some bottles are horizontal, making it easier to pull out from the sides and offer some stability to the bottle. Angled bottles are another variation and although the angle makes it easier to reach from one side, angled bottles have a tendency to fall out. Look out for extra elastic bands that are available to snug up the top of the bottle so that it does not bounce in the pouch.
The multiple-bottle waist belt seems to be the most popular gadget for drinking on the run. This usually comes with has three 8-ounce yellow bottles (more can be added) and a small pouch that evenly disperses the weight on an elastic waistband. The bottles are light, and the wide belt does not have the same tendency to bounce. Runners may experience elbows grazing across the top of the bottles occasionally, but because the belt is soft and light, it offers more comfort and the grazing is soon forgotten. Furthermore one can put sports drink, water or a sports gel in different bottles.
Because one may experience comfort issues as well as some frustration of having to twist the belts when bottles are needed, it is important to experiment with gadgets on training runs – never use a new method for an actual event.
All these gadgets can be purchased at your favorite sporting goods store.