I like beer. I like running. This shouldn’t surprise anybody. Sometimes I even like to combine the two at a Keg Leg with some friends. kegleg.ca However as an athlete there are a few things to take into consideration. There are consequences to your fitness when you consume alcohol. This is not a post trying to convince you not to drink, but I want to give you the information and you can make your own decisions, and maybe be a little smarter about it.
I will straight up say that I got this information from the Coaching Association of Canada. Which I feel is a reputable source and worth sharing. You can find all the facts here. But these were my top five take aways.
This is a lot to consider. Clearly alcohol is not helping us in our fitness and training. But I would not go so far as to say you should never drink again. But maybe keep these points in mind next time you’re out for dinner or out with friends. One rule I’ve developed for myself is that if I’m going to have a drink the same day as training (particularly a long or hard training session) I need to have a good meal and a nap or rest first. That way I have contributed to my recovery before I start negating any of the training effect. The other rule I’ve heard of and like is the two drink rule. If you’re going out and want to be social in a situation with alcohol, you limit yourself to two drinks. That way you get to participate and not feel like you’re missing out, but you aren’t going to wind up regretting it the next day.
The month of January I went dry. After my trip to Mexico in December it felt like a good time. Oooh the tequila… and the bad dancing. It turns out I DON’T know how to do the Macarena, but that didn't stop me from trying. I went dry in January to see if I would notice a difference. And I have to tell you that I did. I felt more rested and ready to train again after every session. I also picked up two VO2 Max points (according to Garmin). That being said I have enjoyed a beverage or two in February. And March.
I have cut back my alcohol consumption overall though. If I’m putting in all this effort to train and improve myself, I should give my body the best chance to recover and take advantage of that training. Of course there will be times when I will have more than two drinks. Special occasions like weddings or maybe a trip to Seattle to see the Blue Jays (anybody?). But these hopefully will be few and far between and definitely not any where around a race or important event.
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Stephen Woollard is a personal trainer and triathlete in Victoria, British Columbia.