How alcohol affects your running performance.
It’s pretty obvious that alcohol and running don’t get along quite well. I’m not a huge drinker but I enjoy a glass of wine (or two) once in a while. You won’t find me in clubs drinking excessive though. For me personally the balance is key here because I don’t think you should give up on alcohol completely. Alcohol before running is nothing you should try. Before races, or even important training runs I recommend skipping the drink and go with a glass of water or juice instead.
Alcohol and running: A glass is fine.
I’m an occasionally drinker and I only drink small amounts of alcohol. For example at dinner I would order a glass of white wine, but that’s it. Alcohol and running is not the best idea. However, I know people who train a lot, but also drink a lot. Large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis will likely impact your adaption, your general health and also your recovery. Alcohol is a toxic substance and pretty unhealthy for your system. Even a glass here and there every other day will affect your training progress.
Try to eliminate the consumption of high amounts of alcohol from your diet if you take your training serious. Alcohol upsets your normal hormonal balance, your metabolism and your immunity. If you drink alcohol have at least 3 glasses of water per glass of alcohol you are consuming. Alcohol also lowers your blood sugar levels, which can make you feel extremely weak while you are running.
Alcohol Can Affect Your Weight
Running and alcohol is not the best combination and you should know that consuming alcohol affects your weight and body fat. If you are trying to lose weight alcohol isn’t the best bet. You body is busy metabolizing the alcohol ahead of other fuels (fat for example) and of course this affects your fat burn. You will end up burning less. Over time the mix of extra energy from alcohol and disruption to the normal metabolic process will lead to increase in fat over time.
You might feel bloated as well. Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, second only to fat itself, which contains 9 calories per gram. Dry white wine is probably the best choice if you want to keep the calories low. All kind of cocktails, hard liquor mixed with juices or beer has high amounts of calories. Drinking alcohol also causes water loss and dehydration, which leads to both water retention and fatigue.
Since I do both bodybuilding and running I would like to highlight the affect on muscle growth as well: Drinking too much alcohol or even every other day can interfere with protein synthesis – this is the process where the muscle cells generate new proteins, essential for recovery and growth.
Running after drinking?
I honestly never tried to run when I was feeling hangover, but I can assure you that your body still can perform the same as it would if weren’t drinking the night before. You may experience an increased strain on the cardiovascular system, which is why your run will feel much harder than normal, but you would still be able to run your training. The bigger problem is feeling sick from being hangover. This is a pretty common reaction after consuming a lot of alcohol for most of us.
Hydration is super important at this point and if you can run through that – awesome! Remember drinking a lot of water before bed and also when you wake up. I stop drinking alcohol completely 4 weeks before a race. I want my body to be on point and make the most of my training.
But let’s keep it real: if you’re not competing for an Olympic bid why not enjoying a glass of wine with a steak once in a while? I’m convinced that being an athlete requires a lot of dedication and also self-awareness of what is good or bad for us. Alcohol and running will never become best friends, that’s for sure. We train hard though and we know about our own limits, too, so if a beer after work makes you happy once in a while, cheers!