Man drinks from his water bottle while running

Is Your Water Bottle Getting In the Way of Your Run? Here's How One Pro Handles Hydration

You'll want to hear these tips before clocking those miles.

By Ellen O'BrienOctober 24, 2023


You’ve picked the perfect outfit, queued up your audio, and put on (more than) a few layers of anti-chafing balm. (If you know, you know.) You’re ready for your long run—almost. There’s another critical factor to your success whether you’re clocking those miles on the Peloton Tread, road, or trail: hydration. Here, we asked Susie Chan, a Peloton instructor and endurance runner, to break down what you need to know about running with a bottle of water (or a hydration vest) to avoid any potential mishaps.

How Often Should You Drink Water While Running?

Drinking water while running looks a little different than your day-to-day hydration habits. You shouldn’t wait until you’re thirsty to start hydrating, Susie says. Instead, focusing on having small sips of water on a frequent basis.

It’s for this reason that she prefers running with a water bottle during a race, rather than exclusively relying on the course-issued cups, in order to ensure that she’s completely in control of her hydration. 

Woman drinks from a water bottle while on a run

The Good Brigade/DigitalVision via Getty Images

What Is the Best Way to Carry Water?

The best way to carry water really comes down to personal preference and the distance of your run, Susie says. You may not mind running with a bottle of water—or you may find it to be the most frustrating thing in the world. To figure out what works best for you and your hydration needs, test out different types of vessels. 

If you’re running a shorter race or distance, such as a 5K, your hydration method might not be as pertinent. With that type of mileage, Susie says you may just want to ensure you’re hydrated before and after your run. However, if you’re clocking a few more miles than that, you’ll want to make sure you’re rehydrating throughout. Here, Susie breaks down important factors to consider about popular hydration carriers. 

Soft Bottles

If lugging a heavy bottle around doesn’t appeal to you, consider using a soft bottle. “Soft bottles are really popular,” Susie says. “As you drink them, they collapse down. You don’t have a lot of [weight] to carry if there’s not a lot of [water] there.” However, since this bottle typically isn’t insulated, it can get a bit warm, especially if you’re holding it in your hand or tucking it against your body. 

Hard Bottles 

Obsessed with your chilled H2O or looking for an extremely durable option? In that case, you may want to select a hard insulated bottle, which will keep your water cold for the duration of your run. This type of bottle can feel a bit heavier and bulkier than the soft flasks, so it’s critical to test out different shapes to find what works best for you. 

Hydration Vest 

If the idea of running with a bottle of water sounds torturous to you, you may want to turn to a hydration vest. These types of vests allow you to consume water through a straw, making your jog a completely hands-free experience. However, these types of packs make it difficult to know and regulate how much H2O you’re drinking, Susie says. They also may not be permitted in certain races. Do your homework in advance to avoid having to leave your beloved hydration pack behind on the big day. 


Most races will have hydration on the course, Susie says. Before race day, she advises checking out what type of hydration your race offers and where these stations are on the route. If the course offers tons of hydration stops, you may not actually have to carry a bottle—and can just rely on the cups provided to you along the way, Susie says. 

3 Other Hydration Considerations to Make

1. Make Sure to Include a Caloric Drink

Susie says she typically runs with two bottles—one that’s filled with regular H2O and the other that includes some type of caloric fluid. It’s the latter bottle that runners often neglect on long runs.

Unsure of what to include in that second bottle? Think about the type of caloric drinks your body responds to best. That could be Gatorade, an electrolyte powder drink—or even Coke. What’s important is that it contains the calories your body needs to power you through those miles.

2. Consider the Spout and Neck

When it comes to your bottle, remember to think beyond the preferred material and shape. You also want to consider the spout, Susie says. If you're running a race, bottles that include spouts that are difficult to twist (or bite) off may hinder you—and even prevent you from hitting that personal record. Make sure to also examine the neck of the bottle, Susie adds. If you select a vessel with a wider neck, it’ll be easier for you to dump replenishing powders or fluids into your bottle when you unscrew the cap. 

3. Check the Race Requirements

Every race is different. As we touched on earlier, some races may allow you to use a hydration vest, while others might not, Susie says. It’s important to make sure that your hydration plan is in line with the race organizers’ rules prior to heading to the start line. Otherwise, you may be following a brand-new hydration protocol on the big day—a less-than-ideal situation.