May 03, 2023
Hydration pack running is a popular activity in South Africa. The use of a hydration pack is perfectly suited to assist anyone undertaking the endurance sport of trail running. Unlike marathon running, which is usually done in urban areas with easy access to refreshment, trail running takes endurance off-road.
Due to the nature of competitive trail running, the events typically occur in rural or remote areas, where health and replenishment facilities are available only at certain checkpoints. Furthermore, these events can also be held over multiple days, in which contestants will only get to refreshment stations once a day. Contestants are, therefore, responsible for planning for their own nutritional needs.
At Ultimate Direction, we have the perfect solution for you: the hydration pack. Hydration pack running, or making use of running vests, are helpful and often essential gear for serious trail runners. They provide runners with a convenient and unobtrusive way to care for their hydration needs. But as any professional trail runner will tell you, hydration pack running is no easy feat. You need to know how to use your pack to your advantage. So in this article, let us explore some tips and tricks to stay hydrated on your next big outdoor adventure.
Any experienced cross-country runner understands that even before they put on the hydration pack, they must start preparing. In this scenario, that means ensuring you are well-hydrated before you begin the race. This is especially important for those participating in trail runs where hydration on the route is difficult to come by. But how does one know whether they are well prepared, especially before partaking in physically demanding activities? Well, here are some key things they can look at:
Along with being well-hydrated before a long trail run, another essential factor to consider and prepare for is the route you will be taking. Although this may sound like common sense to experienced trail runners, many new trail runners show up on the day of the race and rely solely on the marked-out route as dictated by the event organisers. However, these entrants must consider that event organisers may not consider your hydration needs when planning the run. So you should always plan the route with hydration in mind. Therefore things you should consider may include the following:
Let us look at some advantages of using hydration pack equipment and why we, at Ultimate Direction, believe that our gear is the right choice for you!
Now that you have your hydration pack equipped, you’ve made sure to plan your route with hydration in mind, and you’re sure you are adequately hydrated before the race, it’s time to take off. An experienced trail runner understands that one of the most important aspects of making good time is ensuring you’ve planned for everything.
This includes how and when you should hydrate. It may seem obvious to a novice – drink when you’re thirsty, but this can be detrimental as it generally leads to overhydration. As mentioned above, that can lead to cramping as your body tries to process large amounts of liquid while you’re on the move. Instead, you could follow this system:
Step 1: Remember that every individual requires different hydration levels based on gender, body size, fitness levels, etc. Knowing your own body is critical to good hydration techniques.
Step 2: Consider the weather conditions on the day of the run. If you run in hot weather, your body needs more liquids than on cold days. As warm weather will directly lead to large amounts of perspiration, your body will more quickly run out of liquids, allowing for a quicker rate of dehydration. Also, note that temperature can alternate while you’re running, which should be monitored throughout the run.
Step 3: Take regular sips of your water, which is easier when using a hydration pack. It is recommended that, in general, a runner should take small sips every fifteen to twenty minutes. However, steps one and two directly relate to the intervals in which you should intake water while on the run.
Step 4: As mentioned in the previous section of this article, a hydration pack helps prevent overhydration. However, it should still be noted that a runner should avoid chugging their water all at once or too quickly to prevent discomfort.
So far, this article has mainly focused on preparing to stay hydrated before and during the race. Touting the hydration pack is an excellent tool to help, but is hydration enough to run at your peak levels? The simple answer is no. Another critical factor to consider is your electrolyte levels.
Electrolytes are electrically charged ions that help the body function properly. They assist in maintaining fluid balance, neural activity and muscle contraction. However, as you exercise and perspire, you lose electrolytes, which, if not replaced, can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, and even heat stroke. So let us look at some sources of electrolytes that can easily be carried in your versatile hydration pack.
1. Sports Drinks:
Sports drinks like Energade or Powerade are some of the most popular forms of replenishing electrolyte levels. Drinks like Powerade ION 4 provide four electrolytes in every serving – sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. At Ultimate Direction, our hydration packs have front-facing bottle pockets where you can slot your favourite energy drink for ease of access, allowing you to get those electrolytes back quickly.
2. Electrolyte Tablets:
Electrolyte tablets are a convenient and easy way to replace electrolytes during exercise. They are packaged in small sachets that can be added to water for a concentrated electrolyte replenishment source. Our hydration packs at Ultimate Direction all come with small pockets where you can easily store different sachets depending on the length of your trail run.
Bananas are a natural and organic way to replenish electrolytes due to their high potassium nature. Although you may wonder how to bring a banana on a trail run, you are covered at Ultimate Direction. Our trail vest hydration pack has an easy-access main pocket with quick auto closure that can easily fit your snacks—allowing you to gain those natural electrolytes with little fuss.
This article has revealed some tips and tricks to stay well-hydrated and highly nourished on your next cross-country run. This piece has also provided many ways your hydration pack can help you on the run. Not only is it a highly versatile piece of equipment, but also a great way to make sure that you stay at the top of your game. Visit our online store at Ultimate Direction.co.za and find the perfect hydration pack today!