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How Does Alcohol Affect Your Running?

by RunnersConnect: Coaching Community, Running Experts, Inspiring Runners, No Fluff Blog
January 20th 2023

Many of us enjoy nothing more than a cold beer on a hot day or a strong drink after a long work shift. 

However, what i... More

Hello fellow runners. I'm your host, Finn Melanson and this is the run to the top podcast podcast dedicated to making you a better runner with each and every episode. We are created and produced by the expert team of coaches at runners connect dot net where you can find the best running information on the internet as well as training plans to fit every runner and every budget. Many of us enjoy nothing more than a cold beer on a hot day or a strong drink after a long work shift. However, what impact, if any does this have on our training and racing goals? Obviously you're not drinking beers before you run. So is there any detriment the research and answers may surprise you in today's uptempo talk Coach Dylan and Coach Rory are going to dive deep into the pros and cons of alcohol consumption on your running and even discuss the beer mile along the way, let's get started. I'd also like to introduce you to a new sponsor of the show timeline, nutrition timeline has developed a groundbreaking product called Mid Top Your, that actually revitalizes your mitochondria, which creates energy in nearly every cell in your body later in the episode, I'll explain the science and how you can get a sweet discount if you're someone who struggles to relax and get to sleep at night, I can't wait to tell you more about one of our favorite brands ned in their new shuteye chai, it's a mellow super blend latte for sleep that combines adapted jin's caminos functional mushrooms and magnesium to help calm your central nervous system and improve your sleep.

I'll tell you more about them later in this episode. But if you want to learn more now, head to hello ned dot com backslash, R T T T. Hey guys, and welcome back to the podcast. I'm coach Dylan Ballas, I'm coach Rory Moynihan. And you guys are listening to up tempo talks brought to you by runners connect. So we actually got a pretty exciting topic today, a big fan favorite for us, road racers and the topic is, yeah, absolutely, absolutely. It's a big part of the culture. We're gonna be talking about alcohol today and its effects both positive and negative on performance throughout your training cycle. We're just running in general, really your overall health. So Rory, I know you like to drink a couple beers here and there and what is your, what's your overarching take on on alcohol and how does that affect affect you? I do, yeah, if you're listening to podcast you, you can't see it in the video, but I'm wearing my beer Mylar sweatshirt.

So I've done a few virtual beer miles this year just to keep myself entertained. Can you explain what a beer mile is? So for our listeners who don't know you're gonna be drinking a full beer five percent if you want to do it based on regulation every quarter mile. So yeah, basically 44 beers over the course of a mile and I think I ran it this year, maybe low seven was my best time, I think like 7 20 or something, which is, which is pretty fast, which is pretty fast, but not even close to a pro watching the world record, which is 4 33. Yes, this is actually a reel professional sport. It's even attracted some professional runners who are very fast on the track, but they want to try their hand at the drinking portion. So it's, it's kind of an evolving sport, but obviously that if you're doing a beer mile, yeah, that's probably not good on the body cause it, you know, it's, it's crossing the line. It is binge drinking in Flagstaff every year in the summer.

We didn't do it this past summer, but they actually have a hosted beer mile out in the uh, somewhere on the, on the forest service roads and everybody dresses up and have a costume contest and it's really a fun, fun running community event and so although it does have, it's negatives of course, with any type of alcohol drinking in excess, it's fun. Yeah, I think that's, that's a really big component in running. Oh yeah, so to answer questions after that, I think the pros outweigh it and you know, I've always been of the approach, I've never done, you know, I remember in college, even whether you're of drinking age or not. Some of our like team captains would try to enforce a dry month, you know, championship season and honestly, um, yeah, I would still have a beer or two if like I felt like I was with a friend group and wanted to enjoy it. I felt more stressed if I was trying to avoid it and spending so much energy worrying about it and same goes with post college and just, you know, even if I have a marathon coming up that weekend, if it's early in the week, I'm definitely not gonna, I've had a beer before race, but if it's a really serious one, I'm not going to have a beer, but if it's the week of, and I'm at the brewery, you know, during normal times and a new beer is coming out and I want to try it.

I'm not going to deprive myself because that almost creates more stress and then like telling everyone I can't have the beer because of this race and then I'm kind of thinking about it. So that's my journal approach. Yeah, I, I agree with you as well. I'm not a big fan of total deprivation of pretty much everything. So that, that goes with unhealthy foods sweets, that sort of thing. Um, that also includes alcohol as well. I think that if that's something that you thoroughly enjoy and that allows you to kick back, relax, enjoy other people enjoy friends, then that is inherently going to be beneficial. Obviously there is a line that is, has to be drawn there, but I do think that I am definitely in agreement with you and thinking that it's it's definitely something that I don't encourage people to fully suppress if that's something that kind of keeps them going because we all need um those little breaks in training and I think you would agree as well, it's if we take it way too seriously and too hard all the time, it becomes really difficult to sustain that. I agree with you there.

So I say we get a dive a little bit deeper into the pros and cons of alcohol consumption. Um and training, I think good place to start just to establish some definition. So first of all, I think this is a really good timing considering the holidays, you know, even though it's gonna be different in light of the pandemic, I still think people are going to be, you know, consuming more retreats and often those would be alcoholic drinks. So I I came across the Times article that said not surprisingly, during the pandemic and quarantine americans, at least adults are drinking 14% more than they did last year. So um according to the CDC, whether you're a male or female, Now, let me let me correct that it's one drink a day for a female and two drinks a day for a male. Um you could have that every day during the week and I guess that would be considered moderate drinking and these are just kind of based on very generalized, mostly just put on body weight, based on body weight, muscle density, fat density, that sort of thing.

Yeah, I'm glad you pointed out. Just just a starting point. Sure, okay, let's talk about the more science about what happens behind alcohol drinking. So if you don't mind kind of kind of break down, why why does why is alcohol typically found as being not good for running? You know, if I had to pick the the single worst reason, I'd say it would be how it impairs sleep because you're metabolizing the alcohol after you go to sleep, even if it's, you know, some studies have found, even if it's like a drink or two later in the evening, you'll still be processing processing that while you're sleeping and it really inhibits your ability to hit that deep stage of rem sleep dreaming. And Yeah, that that's another reason why, especially if you have more than a couple of drinks when you're hung over a big feature of feeling crappy, is that you didn't get quality sleep. And it's really interesting because I personally know people who drink alcohol because they feel as though it helps them sleep, whereas pretty much all the research is counter to that belief that argument, so, and I agree with you and that that goes into, you know, saying how it affects your recovery as well.

So not only is it affecting your sleep, but that is a big part of your recovery. So if you're drinking in excess too often, then your body is not gonna be able to adapt to what you are doing to it, especially that when it comes down to a training standpoint, you're working really hard and drinking too much, you know, you're going to eventually put yourself at risk for a lot of things in terms of overtraining or illness or just kind of burn out and it can make runs really, really tough and so, you know, it's it's definitely something that you have to be mindful of when you're running or working your drinking as well because obviously there's a therapeutic effects of it. But I think that you know, if if it becomes too much of a habit then you're risking parts of training that could be helpful for you improving your mitochondria is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your performance and make your body work better. My friends at timeline nutrition have introduced a product called Mid top your that is the ultimate tune up for mitochondria, timeline nutrition's mid top your is backed by over a decade of research and is clinically proven to revitalize mitochondria as we know, mitochondria are the energy generators at the heart of nearly every cell in our body.

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We've talked a lot about the importance of sleep over the last few years when it comes to both recovery from your workouts and your overall health. Unfortunately, it's still an area where many people struggle, luckily one of our favorite brands ned is here to help with their incredible new product. Should I chai, It's a mellow super blend latte for sleep that combines adapted jin's amine owes functional mushrooms and magnesium wrapped in a heavenly masala chai inspired spiced body specifically ingredients such as Chaka ray, she and Ash Lagonda help calm your central nervous system which we know is always elevated from training family and work stress and too much screen time adding shuteye chai to my daily pre bed routine, especially in the cold winter months has really helped me relax and get my brain ready to sleep. Something I know a lot of runners struggle with its resulted in feeling much more relaxed at night, falling asleep faster and getting much more restful sleep throughout the night.

So if you you're looking for a delicious way to get more relaxed and calm before you go to bed and get more quality sleep, discover how shuteye shy can revolutionize your sleep. Just go to hello ned dot com backslash, R. T. T. T. And enter code R. T. T. T. At checkout for 15% off your next order. You're right, you're right. I wanted to go back to just that point about sleep because yeah, people will mention, it helps them, you know fall asleep and that's true. But the issue is what happens thereafter. You're not entering the deep stage of sleep. So that way you can, you know counter your friends who are telling you that they're not wrong about being able to fall asleep easier. So what are the things we need to know about alcohol and how it affects us. Well man, I I got to say even though I think there are some pros of drinking throughout training if it if you like it. Yeah the cons really outweigh really quick. I know we haven't really talked too much too deeply into it before we go into the contract.

That's fair, that's fair physiologically, alcohol is essentially poison, so not great for your body. So most of the pros in my come from the mental standpoint of just being able to relax a little bit. I mean I guess you could argue that's physiological as well, like one drink will help you chill out if you've had a stressful day or a week. Um Already alluded to it a little bit. I don't really like to break up my routine. It makes me hyper focused on the event because I put so much pressure on myself to avoid an alcoholic beverage. So again if an opportunity comes up where I want to enjoy it. I do and then of course people know about post race celebrations. That's always fun. You know at the road races you got the Michelob ultra light. Sure you can enjoy that. Now I alluded to the beginning trail races. I really like the beer culture there. Um because of a lot of the races I attend here in Arizona, they often have a local brewery and they have these really good craft beers and it's just super fun as you're watching your friends come in, you know you can have this, this quality beer and yeah, once everyone's done, we might have a couple more and you know, I don't think there's necessarily a problem with that maybe not ideal for recovery, but whether it was a good or bad day, cold beer is nice to sip on place and time.

Right? Exactly. Yeah. Okay, well let's let's pop on over to the some of the drawbacks. Now, some of the now we talked about some of the positives, especially on the mental side of things, I think it's huge. Um you know, with it comes some negatives. So we talked about recovery and we talked about how it impairs your sleep, but also let's have a little bit deeper with that topic, discuss why it also impairs performance um and progress adaptation to your training. So yeah, there's plenty there. Yeah. So I I took some notes here. Um I thought was really interesting. So a lot of a lot of running comes down to breaking down muscle building back up, right, becoming stronger um that you can you can add that to weight training or any other sports specific. You know, item things that you're doing. But in terms of running um you need to be able to rebuild your body rebuild those muscles because you're constantly breaking down. And so to do that to promote that recovery, We have to do a lot of things, you know, you eat well, you need to sleep well, you need to make sure that you're running appropriately.

So alcohol actually inhibits protein census by about 20% is what the data the research says, which is pretty significant. So if you're really trying to recover from a really hard effort and really hard workout, alcohol is probably not the thing that you're really gonna want directly afterwards or later that day in excess because it will make those following days a lot harder. I don't know about you, but whenever you've had too much to drink and you go and try to run the next day, you feel terrible. And a lot of that also has to do with dehydration. So if you don't have, if you're dehydrated your body then you're not um you're dehydrated muscle cells, you're not allowing that protein synthesis to happen. So making sure that you're hydrated after drinking is also very important because it's depleting you. Um Yeah and to add on to that, I was reading some studies as well that indicate you're not gonna sweat as efficiently the following day. Just because um yeah it's important to remember your body's primary focus is just removing the alcohol from your system, your body, which some cases takes up to 72 hours depending how much you're drinking.

So keep that in mind. It's absolutely significant. Um Yeah I mean the dehydration, I mean you're not only dehydrating you're dehydrating yourselves and not allowing your muscles to replenish themselves. You know, get stronger um And this also decreases testosterone um decreases the ability for your body to to rebuild anabolic lee building up muscle and that's that's not helpful. It also drains you of key nutrients that also informed that recovery. So you know the recovery is the it's it's the overarching umbrella here with how it affects us and just as much as we like to push hard and to achieve bigger and better goals and performances in training we need that recovery to offset that to allow it to happen. Yeah and this is where the list is gonna get along. You're also increasing inflammation and swelling so that that ties into the poor recovery part. I was watching a Youtube video by Nick Simmons and if you know him he's a 800 meter runner Olympian for the U.

S. And he you know openly admits to really living the party lifestyle especially in his twenties. And he actually points out that he can trace some of his injuries to partying too hard after races because. Yeah I think that you know I mentioned the celebrating but you could also argue that's the worst time to celebrate too because you just put in your hardest effort of a training block. Well especially if you're continuing to train. Right? So so I would say if it's like your last race, you know enjoy if it's a tune up heading into another race that's where you're gonna really want to you know focus on having a you know some water in between each drink and just keeping it moderate. Yeah. Yeah. Um We can also move on to how directly how it affects you directly after. I mean this is great because you can talk about those races that tune up races having too much to drink after. Perhaps a race that's in prep for your goal race. And or a really hard effort. Really hard workout and the timing of it is really important too.

So we all know that one of the best ways to help replenish ourselves and go ahead and expedite that recovery process is to make sure that we're taking in Enough. We're taking in something nutritious, something that's gonna help us rebuild as soon as possible. Um that window I mean over my lifetime has changed, you know I remember people saying it was 30 minutes, some people two hours regardless. It's important that you get something in your body as quick as possible. But when that becomes alcohol has a lot of negative negative effects. Um one of those is it decreases, interferes with the fat oxidation. So basically that's that helps you create energy and so with that and what goes hand in hand with that is actually it interferes with the glycogen synthesis as well. So that is replenishing your body to again um help replenish the stores that you've been that you've depleted. So if you just want to get a long run and then you had way too much to drink. You've depleted a lot of your glycogen stores. And so that following day, if you've had too much to drink, you can often feel sore tired.

You add a risk of illness and it actually decreases your performance. And like you said before, that can last and that stays in your body can be up to three days. And so when we're talking about recovery and becoming better runners, um the negative effects it has on your body is pretty significant based on the timing of what you do it. Yeah, you you might argue, well, you know, I'm taking in some calories. They handed me the beer at the finish. But yeah, as we already mentioned again, as soon as you're in taking the alcohol, your body focuses on metabolizing that. So that's why it's not actually replenishing your glycogen. And you know, doing the job of clearing lack Like acid and everything. Like it should be not to mention the fact those are completely empty calories. Um if you're talking to craft beer, you know, you can get up to 200 300 calories for single beer and there's no protein. There's nothing really nutritious about it. Exactly. Exactly. I mean, that's another topic to the health effects of it and we can we can briefly skim over that.

It's like, you know, one of the, one of the reasons why a lot of us got into running. Um was to lose weight, right? Running is a lot of people associate running with All right, I'm going to run to lose weight. Not everybody is performance driven and that's okay. You know, sometimes we do both, sometimes we like the performance benefit, but we also like the way that our body feels because of it And you know, too much alcohol can add up. Like you were saying, with the craft beers, I mean you're looking at 200 plus calories pop, you have a couple of those, you know, that's enough to put you over on that day. And if you do that too often, then the pounds start to, to rack up and you're not to not to forget the effects it has on, you know, growth hormones, testosterone, what not when it comes to um, you know, keeping your body at a better body composition. Yeah. So let alone once you have a couple of drinks, you know, your decisions about what kind of food you wanna eat changes, you might crave the salty, high fat pub food that goes along with that.

Well, I think that we've really, you know, hammer down on alcohol. And what's important here is, I know that we've kind of gone a little bit deeper on the negative sides of alcohol and that's true. I think it's important to understand that we're not trying to make excuses for the negative effects that alcohol has on our bodies, but there's a, you know, there is a tremendous value in the relax in effect, the mental effect of it, which you've personally experienced? Yeah. And even, uh I referenced earlier this year, I got to interview molly Seidel and she talked about how she had a beer or two, um the week leading into the trials and of course she made the olympic team following that. So she didn't, she doesn't really practice the completely dry months leading up to race. And she also discussed celebrating and closing down this bar after the trial. So I guess there's an example of someone who competes at a high level but still knows how to enjoy yourself.

Exactly, exactly. It's time and place. It's making sure that you don't always do it in excess. There is, it does find its place in training and it doesn't, you don't have to go completely dry, you don't have to give it up completely. Um, but you just have to do it mindfully and, and and make sure that it's, it's in a way that's not negatively affecting you both mentally and physically. So yeah, I think that's pretty wide ranging. We covered a lot here. We always like to hear from you. Are there any pros that I or coach Dylan may have left out. Can you add to the list of cons which were a lot. We love feedback. So connect with us on insta or email. My instagram handle is little Runner Boyle. Put it up on the screen. What's yours? Mine is unlike Dylan good stuff and then emails. I'll put it in the comments again. It's been great getting some feedback and interacting with new listeners. Some people who aren't even members of runners connect. Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of up tempo talks.

I'm coach. Rory and Dylan have a great run today guys. Dylan and Rory covered a lot of ground in that episode. The overall pros and cons of alcohol consumption for runners, the impact on sleep, the impact on recovery, the caloric impact. And of course they even talked about the Beer mile. But what were your main takeaways? Will you be making any changes, for example, to your routines as a result of this? Regardless, we would love to hear from you. Help us get the conversation going by leaving a question or comment on the facebook or instagram post of this episode. Thanks for listening to the run to the top podcast. I'm your host, Finn Melanson. As always, our mission here is to help you become a better runner with every episode. Please consider connecting with me on instagram at Wasatch Finn and the rest of our team at runners connect. Also consider supporting our show for free with a rating on the Spotify and Apple podcast players. And lastly, if you love the show and want bonus content behind the scenes experiences with our guests and premier access to contests and giveaways and subscribe to our newsletter by going to runners, connect dot net back slash podcast and until next time Happy training.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Running?
How Does Alcohol Affect Your Running?
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