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I’m mad.

Okay, maybe I’m just a bit on the miffed side right now.

But the more I think about it, the madder I get.

Over the last year or so I’ve oscillated in my hydration between Nuun Water and my home-made Honey-Water™. Both drinks do exactly what they are meant to do, they hydrate without overwhelming you with sweetness and sugar.

Part of what makes Nuun Water great is that it comes in little tablets. “Portable Hydration” is what they call it, and that’s exactly what it is. You carry the tablets with you so you don’t have to carry bottles and bottles of the stuff; simply fill your bottle with water and drop in a tablet.  It’s that easy.  The only drawbacks are if you lack a source of water on your run.

My secret formula Honey-Water™ may not be as convenient (I don’t really see myself carrying a little honey bear with me on my runs), but when mixed just right, with my added secret ingredient, the flavor is light and refreshing, and the sugar gives you an extra boost of glucose to keep running hard.  I also find that I don’t have to drink as much per mile as I usually do with plain, old water.

Both are great.

I love them both and it pisses me off to no end.

Although I have run every marathon initially carrying my hydration (two with Nuun and two with Honey-Water™), the truth is eventually I run out before the end of the race.  The simple solution would be to carry more, but that means more weight, which means more work.  That doesn’t sit well with me, especially when I’m running for time.  Carrying 48 ounces of hydration is one thing on a LSD 20 miler, but it’s a completely different thing when you are racing a marathon.

The reason I’m mad is that Gatorade has cornered the market on hydration stations at just about every half and full marathon I’ve been too; if it isn’t Gatorade, it’s the ugly step-brother Powerade. Both drinks are heavy on sweetness and hit my stomach like a round of buckshot. I’m not a huge fan of either and I generally don’t drink the stuff.  Unfortunately, I’m afraid that I am going to have to start.  They don’t hand out cups of Nuun or cups of my Honey-Water™ at races.

I think that one of the contributing factors to my physical breakdown in New York was due to last minute nutritional changes – that included switching to Gatorade mid-race when I realized that I was going to have to find an alternate source of carbohydrates when I was unable to stomach the banana flavored honey stingers I was trying for the first time.  Though I don’t blame Gatorade completely, I’m sure that my stressed system didn’t take to it too kindly.

So what’s the solution?

Unless I can come up with a better plan, I am going to have to train my body to accept Gatorade.  Plain old water is not a practical choice.  When I run for distance, I sweat like a LeBron James before a Celtics game.  I need the nutrients and minerals that water alone can’t replace.

Honestly, it would be nice to not have to carry anything in a long race other than a few Gu’s or Honey Stingers (just not that damned banana flavor though!), but I wonder if Gatorade is really the answer.

What’s your hydration strategy at the half- and full-marathon distances?

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