Boozing before running could be beneficial to your health

Drinking straight before a run would be madness, surely? Not necessarily

26 November 2017 - 00:00
By Chas Newkey-Burden
During the Beer Mile, a 1,6km race, runners must stop every 400m to down a beer. Ready, steady, 'glug glug', go!
Image: During the Beer Mile, a 1,6km race, runners must stop every 400m to down a beer. Ready, steady, 'glug glug', go!

Many of us know a boozy runner. They hit the bar straight after every training session or running event, often downing a beer for every kilometre they've just run.

In many ways, this is a curious habit, for not only does the booze cancel out any good the run did them, but if it has been a long run - and long drinking session - it also all combines with the general fatigue and dehydration to give them a weapons-grade hangover in the morning.

Running experts say that if you must have a post-race drink, you should make sure you rehydrate thoroughly with water first. You should then just limit yourself to a maximum of two drinks. Go beyond that and you'll be messing with your recovery.


But what about a pre-run booze-up, we hear you ask. What? Surely such a thing could not exist? Well, certainly a drink the evening before a run cannot do you too much damage, provided you are restrained about it.

This is a view that is upheld by Matthew Barnes, PhD, who studies the effects of alcohol and exercise at New Zealand's Massey University. He told Greatist that a single alcoholic beverage the night before a race is unlikely to have any impact on performance, particularly if you are a regular drinker.

But what about drinking straight before a run? That would be madness, surely?

Well, not necessarily. A study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine found that three shots of whiskey (diluted with water) made no significant impact on treadmill runs for the 10 healthy men taking part in the study.

Perhaps there can be drink-run limits, as there are drink-drive limits for motorists.

Then we could look into which boozy drinks have most carbohydrates: drinks such as beer contain the most, champagne has almost none.

Some boozing runners will have really done their homework on the health benefits of various alcoholic drinks.

They could tell you that white wine contains tyrosol and caffeic acid, which reduce inflammatory reactions. Or that a beer or two supplies one-10th of your RDA of niacin, which pumps up your energy levels.

Or why not try cider? A few glasses of that will give you 20% of your RDA of iron, which enhances your oxygen delivery. A gin will flush out your system, aiding kidney ailments.

What good news this all is for the boozing runner. He or she might like to toast it with a glass of champagne. And why the hell not - bubbly has a positive effect on cardiovascular ability, according to a Reading University study. Cheers, my dears.


The inspiration for boozing runners is probably a man called James Nielsen. In 2014, he broke the record for the Beer Mile - a 1,6km race in which the runner must stop every 400m to down a beer. The record of 5:09 had been held until then by Jim Finlayson of British Columbia, but Nielsen trained for a year and smashed that record. His finish time was 4:57:1, the first sub-five minute Beer Mile. (The record has since been bettered, and now sits at 4:34).

And if that isn't laying down a challenge to boozing runners everywhere, we don't know what is. Get training, people! - The Telegraph


Aspasia Karras gets a taste of the Marathon du Medoc, a 42,2km marathon with 22 refreshment stops - including one for wine

About 2km from the finish line of my first marathon in Paris, several people popped up dressed in what I can only presume was traditional garb from somewhere in France. They were holding out small glasses of red wine. The more professional runners around me made tut-tutting noises and looked away from this heresy.

I, on the other hand, was in that place. Marathon runners know it well. The place where you are striking your foolish head against a wall. A metaphorical wall but no less real, as your body does everything it can to get you to stop this outrageous act you are perpetrating against it.

I took the wine. I would have taken anything. I downed it and found my spirit instantly lifted. I was suddenly fully capable of the hobble to the end.

Turns out, the fine people doing this fine deed were marketing for the Marathon du Medoc, a proper 42,2km marathon with 22 refreshment stops. And by refreshment I mean wine, and 21 food and gourmet stands involving cheese, oysters, ice cream and all the other excellent comestibles of the region. But the wine comes first.

Created in 1984, the marathon only allows 8,000 entries and everyone has to dress up foolishly. It's about health, conviviality and, above all, fun. Your finishing time is not the issue, and they often extend the cutoff to mop up the revellers. I thoroughly approve.


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