When it comes to hydration, there are a ton of usable options. I'll run down the list in order of relative popularity.
- Sports drink: This includes products like Gatorade, Heed, Nuun, Gu Brew, etc. Most sports drinks provide electrolytes which are lost via sweat. Most also contain varying amounts of calories, which help you stay fueled. In most races, sports drinks are my preferred option, though I sometimes switch to water toward the end. The sweetness of sports drinks sometimes makes me nauseous.
- Water: Many people prefer good 'ole water during a race. Water doesn't provide electrolytes or calories, but is palatable throughout a race.
- Soda: Not many people use soda, but it does contain calories and some sodium. The carbonation can make it more palatable. If the soda is caffeinated, it may cause a slight diuretic effect. I'll toss energy drinks into this category, too, though the high caffeine levels make it impractical for a primary hydration strategy. Unless you're a crack addict.
- Juice: Juice is actually a pretty good option and was more popular before the widespread use of sports drinks. It tends to be relatively high in caloric content, but also has a heavy flavor.
- Beer/ Wine/ other Alcohol: I've experimented with both beer and wine, and once did an unfortunate “tequila run.” The result of all three was roughly the same: it sucked. The bitterness of beer seemed to be enhanced the longer I ran, which ruled out any good beer. I tried drinking beers like Michelob Ultra, but I had a hard time distinguishing it from water. Wine was okay, but I needed to drink too much to remain relatively well hydrated. Drunkedness inhibits trail running. Go figure.