Hydration: What we’ve learned

A very real sampling of what’s in our pantry. This is from our friend Abby’s counter. She’s a triathlete and can blow through some fuel. 

It’s officially the dog days of summer in NC. Our summers are notorious for being hot and humid. No matter how early we start a Saturday run, we come back drenched in sweat, but we have learned over the years which hydration choice works for us. Here are our top picks:

  1. Kimberly’s first choice is UCAN. I run with UCAN Hydrate which is just electrolyte powder mixed with water. I carry my hand held Nathan water bottle which holds about 12 oz. I find that I avoid stomach cramps and hitting a wall. When I come back in from running, I recover with UCAN Superstarch. I mix one scoop with about 24 oz of water and leave it in the fridge. I find that the mixture needs plenty of time to dissolve; I’ll normally mix this the night before or just prior to heading out the door. I noticed that drinking this after my workout keeps my nausea at bay and  my hunger levels stay fairly stable (read: I’m nice to others, especially my family). A couple of my friends drink the UCAN Superstarch before a run, and that’s perfectly fine–even the instructions on the  canister recommend doing so for even energy release. Karen recently tried the newer UCAN Protein Superstarch, found it more palatable, and thought it worked well as part of her pre-run nutrition.  I just prefer the Hydrate more before and during a run. I normally buy directly from the UCAN website. I find that I can get 10-15% off with various coupons (join their email list).
  2. NUUN. These little tablets have gone through some good changes with their ingredients. On extra hot days, I drop one of these tablets in my water bottle and drink it while I’m at work. I also use NUUN in my hot yoga classes and find that it’s the perfect amount of electrolytes. I do find it a bit saltier than UCAN, but the array of flavors keep things interesting. My favorite is the berry and least favorite is grapefruit. I order a 4-pack from amazon or pick up some from the local running store. Please note: it’s a bit fizzy as it dissolves. Remember this when you drop it in you water bottle, and then go to squeeze your drink.  Nuun is also great to drink around the clock – particularly before and after a long run when it’s important to replenish electrolytes.  Karen brought an end to her summer running nausea problems when she added Nuun during her long runs. Erica also drinks Nuun when she travels.
  3. Huma gels gels. If you are tired of GUs and Chomp blocks, consider the HUMA gels. They’re made with chia seeds and a variety of flavors. They have 100 calories, 110mg sodium, and 21 carb. I usually take one of these around mile 7/8 on a long run of 10+ miles. Some may say I wait too long, but when I’m also using the UCAN hydrate, I find that this works best for me. I love the mango flavor in the summer and apple cinnamon in the winter. They’re easy on the gut, have fiber from the chia seeds, and contain amino acids.
  4. Scratch Labs.  Erica has a hard time stomaching the UCAN, so she prefers Scratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink mix for her long runs. Scratch uses natural ingredients in their formulas, which makes them easier to digest on the run. These drink mixes are verified non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free, vegan and Kosher.  Erica has tried quite a few flavors and none are bad, however the lemon-lime is her go-to flavor.
  5. Tailwind Nutrition.  This is also one of Erica’s favorites because it has carbs and electrolytes, so there isn’t any need for additional gels or nutrition on the run.  Tailwind makes many flavors, but Erica’s favorite is the flavorless version.  The glucose/sucrose combination is supposed to be easily absorbed into your bloodstream, providing fuel to get you through your long distance workout.
  6. Flow.  These folks followed Erica on Twitter, she followed back, liked what she read, and soon bought their product.  She takes one capsule about 30 minutes prior to her long runs.  Each capsule contains salt, magnesium, and calcium – all of which are needed to thrive in the NC heat and humidity.  Flow is an all-natural electrolyte replacement supplement and cramp eliminator used by athletes who want to avoid chemically processed, unnatural products.  Erica orders Flow from Amazon.
  7. Gatorade Endurance Formula.  This isn’t your typical Gatorade.  It’s a special formula – more carbs, sodium, and potassium – created for endurance athletes like us. While not a favorite, Erica used this last year while training for the Chicago Marathon because this was served on the course.  A nearly full 32 oz canister of lemon-lime is just sitting in her pantry and she likely won’t use it, so if you’re local and would like to give it a try, just let us know!  The only warning – make sure you mix it with enough water.  It tastes salty and you definitely don’t want to feel like you’re drinking ocean water on your run 🙂

You can pick many of these up at Fleet Feet or REI if you want to try a sample packet – or hit us up if you’re local and we’ll share some with you!




5 thoughts on “Hydration: What we’ve learned

  1. Last year you pushed me hard to use Base Electrolyte Salt but it doesn’t make your list now. Hmmm…


    1. We were trying to focus on what to bring on the run in a water bottle. I still think the base electrolyte salt is a good option, but the ones we wrote about had some additional benefits. I know several triathletes that still use the base salts in transitions (between swim & bike, bike & run).


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