What is the best running water bottle for marathon training? (Post 8: Essential running gear)


In the last post we discussed that fuel and fluids are essential during training. The experts recommend consuming up to 80 grams of carbohydrates and 24 ounces (710 mL) of fluids per hour while running.  So whether you’ve chosen to re-fuel in fluid or non-fluid form, you’re going to need to carry fluids.  Does this mean you will need to lug around a jug of water while running a marathon?  Not exactly.  Then, where in the world are you going to find oodles of fuel and fluids while running 26.2?

Strapped to your body!  Don’t panic.  This is not as bad as it sounds.  It does take some getting used to, but there are lots of running water bottle options.  We will discuss them in today’s post.


  • Provides access to water or fluid-based fuel while you run.
  • Storage for non-fluid based fuel (gels, bars, etc.)



It all comes down to preference.  There are backpack style “bladders”, like Camelbaks.  Another option is a running water bottle.  The bottles are typically secured by handheld or waist belt holsters.  The bottles range in size from one large bottle (about 24 ounces) to several small bottles (6 to 8 ounces each).  I know runners who have successfully used each of these options.

I prefer handheld running water bottles.  Given that I chafe very easily, I had some trouble with hydration belt styles (though other runners I know have not had any problems).  I’ve never tried a back pack style, but I have similar concerns.  Another challenge with hydration belts – the bottles can be hard to pull out and put back in the holster.  Imagine trying to get into a squat position after 16 of 18 miles of running, to pick up your dropped bottle.  Personally, I like to have them in my hands!

energy_drink_runningIs your budget super tight?  You could try regular sport bottles or energy drink bottles.  I’ve done it, but don’t recommend it!  Your hand might get quite tired!

A final option is to run in an area where water and sport drinks are readily available at frequent intervals (less than 1 mile apart).  I have found that most towns have a trail or loop that’s frequented by distance athletes.  These are often stocked with fresh fluids or water fountains.  Just make sure that you are able to drink whenever you are thirsty.

Note:  I’ll cover the logistics of how to mix and use fuel and fluids while running, in a later post.

What to look for: 

  • 48 oz. total capacity – Aim for separate containers (sport drink and water) equivalent to 2-3 hours’ worth of hydration.  This should cover most of your training runs.Storage space (for keys, ID, energy gels, phone).
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Easy to drink from (bottles/pouches)/remove from holster (for hip belts) while running
  • Comfortable (easy to grip, does not rub/move around)
  • Optional: Thermal sleeve (keeps bottles cool)

During my first marathon, I used an old Gatorade bottle as one my running water bottles.  I don’t recommend it, but it certainly was a cheap solution!  What other inventive solutions have you heard of for hydration?  Leave a comment, so we can all benefit from it!

Resources referenced in this post:

  • Roberts, Bill, John Cianca, and Joseph Chorley. “Optimal Hydration: Establishing a Hydration Plan for Marathons.” American Medical Athletic Association: 1-2. American Road Race Medical Society. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.
  • Noakes, Tim. “IMMDA Advisory Statement on Guidelines for Fluid Replacement During Marathon Training.” New Studies in Athletics: The IAAF Technical Quarterly 17.1 (2002): 17-24. Print.
  • Rapoport, B.I. “Endurance Calculator.” Endurance Calculator. PLoS Computational Biology, Oct. 2010. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <http://endurancecalculator.com/>.
  • Fitzgerald, Matt. “Hydration and Nutrition During Running.” Runner’s World Performance Nutrition for Runners: How to Fuel Your Body for Stronger Workouts, Faster Recovery, and Your Best Race times Ever. [Emmaus, PA]: Rodale, 2006. 97-120. Print.

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One Response to “What is the best running water bottle for marathon training? (Post 8: Essential running gear)”

  1. Travis Withers June 28, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    I have found that for long runs of 6 miles or more, I get the best hydration from my camelbak. It can hold enough fluid that I can drink based on the conditions (more when it is hot) and it has a harness and chest strap that allow me to adjust so so that I virtually forget it is there. It is also easy to take a sip and I don’t have to fumble with a bottle. I usually use a hydration belt with two 8 oz bottles on runs of up to 5 miles. I will chug a bottle at 2 miles and another at 4 miles when I take a walk break.

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