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Alcohol and Running

  • 30-03-2022 11:33am
    Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭

    I like a bottle of Barolo as much as the next guy but I've discovered through long periods of abstenance and other periods of moderate drinking that even one night out with the lads can really negatively impact my running. For me the longest period of regular running and improvement have coincided with periods of abstenance. I find during periods when I am drinking maybe one or two nights a week I

    • Less entusiastic about running
    • Diet is bad
    • More niggles
    • Recovery takes longer
    • Sleep is not so good
    • More likely to shelf a planned run

    With this in mind should abstenance be a recommended as part of training programs from the outset? For the drinkers out there do you give up for training cycles? would you give up during a marathon block for example if advised by your coach?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,456 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D

    I'm in a reduced intake phase myself at the moment but to be honest I don't think it makes much difference to me performance wise - as long as I am training consistently. I do feel better, however, which probably helps with the consistency so I wouldn't discount it.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 22,380 CMod ✭✭✭✭Pawwed Rig

    Personally in times when I am eating and drinking a bit healthier I am also doing more exercise. There may be a false correlation here with drinking and improved performance although I am talking about a beer or 2 here rather than going out and having a skinfull

  • Registered Users Posts: 954 ✭✭✭oinkely

    I'd move the sleep one to the top of the list and maybe the rest stem from it. If I've had a few drinks I get into bed and konk out but never feel rested the next day. Couple hard drinking with hard training and it's a recipe for disaster as you are just not getting quality sleep.

  • Registered Users Posts: 800 ✭✭✭SeeMoreBut

    1 or 2 beers a week isn't going to do hurt you. A night out would effect me for a couple of days but it's a long time since I did that.

    Usually if I'm having a drink at home I'd be on a rest or very easy day the next day.

    Wouldn't dream of it if had any speed session the next day or 2.

    I sleep awful after drink. HR be way up when sleeping.

    You can't burn the candle at both ends

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,771 ✭✭✭jebuz

    should abstinence be a recommended as part of training programs from the outset?

    No. We're not professional runners and for me, club runners intentionally abstaining from alcohol for periods in order to perform better is over the top and unnecessary. Have a drink by all means but like anything, do it in moderation and enjoy it without feeling the guilt. Plenty of top runners in the 80's were divils for the sauce, you wouldn't believe the carry on and they still all performed at an incredibly high level.

    I'm not one for heavy nights out at all but I wouldn't think twice about a pint or a glass of wine the night before a session or a race and I'm partial to a midweek IPA, regardless of what stage of a training cycle I'm in. I think people overthink running too much and sacrificing things like drink or takeaways just might end up adding more pressure to perform on race day. We should be trying to find the balance of enjoying life outside of running and not getting so uptight about perfect training and behaving like professionals. Consistency, training smart and staying injury free should take WAY more priority than alcohol.

    would you give up during a marathon block for example if advised by your coach?

    No and it would never happen. My coach encourages us to go on nights out after big races and he's usually bang in the middle of the action himself. It does more good for us as a group to relax, forget about training for a night and kick back with a few drinks.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,456 ✭✭✭cmac2009

    Lots of interesting info out there on the impact alcohol has on your sleeping pattern. Results in a lot less REM sleep which plays a crucial part in you waking up feeling rested and refreshed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭marathon2022

    Thanks Guys, just to be clear I dont abstain from drink for running reasons; it just happens that when I do the running is a lot more enjoyable and gains are clear. My primary motivations for abstaining over long periods usually related to studying or trying to minimise modern life/work stresses.

  • Registered Users Posts: 606 ✭✭✭echancrure

    There's drinking and there's drinking. A beer, a glass of wine, even every day will not impair your training: it may even improve it (tour de France riders often have a glass of wine with their evening dinner...).

    The problem of course is that many people (me included) cannot stick to one glass of wine or one beer. Or at least not stick to it consistently. You may do it for 2 or 3 days but then you have another beer or half the bottle of wine. And then you'll relax and say what's the hell have a beer followed by a bottle of wine and eating crap... and then that impacts on your training for sure.

    So if you cannot restrain yourself consistently to a small amount, you are better off giving it up while you train as it is actually easier and less tempting.

    You could also, once in a while (the day before a REST day or recovery run) let it go and have that full bottle of wine. It will only set you back a couple of days.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,582 ✭✭✭Swashbuckler

    I was trying to formulate in my head what I wanted to say and then echancrure basically hit everything I wanted to say.

    Great points.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16 Isot10

    If you can, I find a good idea is to buy drink in very small quantities ie one or two bottles of IPA or similar, once drank , provided it is after 10pm and you don't live next door to a pub , there is no way to end up having a skinful.

    If there is a load of cans in the fridge , the willpower weakens the more you have.

    I have found this easier as I have gotten older and don't go out as much as in the past. I ended up not ever wanting any more than two bottles after a while. That is about my limit for no effect the next day regarding training or rest.

    That said , this would not have been possible when I was in my 20s and 30s !!!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 941 ✭✭✭Unknownability

    When I'm getting ready to enter a training block (as I am now), I give up everything for a while and train everyday.

    I find this approach helps me focus on what the end end goal of the training block.

    When I'm actually in a training block, I'd have no issue having 5 or 6 pints with an easy day or a rest day to follow.

    As with everyone else the main downsides to this are poor sleep, elevated heart rate and dehydration.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,501 ✭✭✭Laineyfrecks

    Like everything else the affects of drinking alcohol differ from person to person and of course that is dependent on how much you consume. For me I like to have the odd drink which ultimately doesn't affect me too much but the nights out would lead to disrupted sleep therefore making me feel tired & less motivated for the next few days. Too much drink also usually leads to eating too much crap the next day & of course this isn't great either. I think if you generally feel so much fresher & it actually doesn't feel like a huge chore to cut down or cut out alcohol then go for it, if it makes you more motivated & easier to target your goal then surely this can only be a good thing.

    None of us here are elites but I don't think it comes down to that, we are all trying for our own personal goals so without feeling like we are punishing ourselves why not give up the odd thing to achieve those goals! Just my tupence worth...

    Post edited by Laineyfrecks on

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,182 ✭✭✭demfad

    If you are genuinely worrying about drinking too much and it is affecting you then cutting down a little might be in order.

    If it's not and you're happy with the balance then wouldn't be a problem.

    As you get older a drinking session will take similar recovery to a running session. That's not trivial.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,050 ✭✭✭✭event

    When you say marathon training block, how long do you mean? I'd normally give up drink for a few weeks as it gets close to a marathon but for the 5-6 months before it, are you mad? Life gets in the way too much imo, I'm not a professional. And considering professional sports people don't give up drink completely, I think we are ok. Its like drinking bans that GAA club teams love, no need for it

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,577 ✭✭✭Reg'stoy

    Currently training for Cork and had a long run to do on Sunday, schedule called for a 2hrs 55min run. Anyway, went out last Saturday night, ate out, only one pasta option, so had that and then a chocolate brownie for dessert. Went to a pub afterwards and drank coke and heineken 00, left before 12, in bed and asleep for 1ish. Garmin body battery said 49 and felt hungover that morning, even though I had no alcohol. Run was tough, but mentally rewarding, should probably have had a few pints, as I burped heineken the whole way around. Actually, getting up out of a warm bed, getting the gear on and heading out, was a victory and other runs won't seem as bad.

    So for me, the shortened sleep, having to eat mac 'n' cheese (not a big fan) and the bottles of shite beer (I'm a Guinness drinker) were far worse than if I had a couple of creamy pints and went home early. I should point out, I'm not a runner runner, hope to do Cork in 4hrs to 4-15 and I like my pints and the odd chinese. Oh, I managed to do 27.6K on Sunday.

  • Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭marathon2022

    Nice one, good luck in Cork. Looks like a lovely flat course with a couple of small hills thrown in after 30k to catch out the unsuspecting. Probabaly best not to have too many beautiful creamy pints for a couple of days before(espcially if its warm) 😀

  • Registered Users Posts: 606 ✭✭✭echancrure

    Guinness 0.0 is actually decent, probably better than that Heineken muck