Alcohol – The good, the bad, and the runguly!

Who has ever heard the saying, “Pick your poison?” This phrase speaks louder than you think. Don’t worry I’m not an anti-alcohol, banging on pots and pans, monger. I recently wanted to lose weight and guess where I found my extra calories coming from….beer! Yeah, beer! I love and hate beer. I would love it more if it didn’t put the empty calories back into my body along with its poison. As a runner, you can’t be out pushing for PRs and placing wins, if you drink more than your share multiple times a week. Let’s take a dive into some of the reasons to ease up on the hefty IPAs and double and triple mixed cocktails.

Alcohol lingers for up to 72 hours

Not only is it a good idea not to drink on race day, drinking two nights before a race day can still have lingering effects. Your body wants to desperately exude alcohol from your system. In fact, it’s your body’s top priority. Your body doesn’t care if you need your glycogen more effectively, it just wants the alcohol out pronto.

Have you ever wondered why you feel like someone has run over you with a train after a night of drinking? It’s even more challenging to put on your running shoes and head out the door. If you think that running will knock out the alcohol quicker – nope. Why do you feel better after you’ve run and “sweated out the alcohol”? What’s probably happened is your endorphins have kicked in and gave your body running high masking some of your pain.

Good old time is what really plays the pivotal role of flushing the alcohol out of your system. As I get older, if I drink past my usual few beers, I will feel the effects of it that last for at least 24 hours. When I was younger, I wouldn’t have any problem at all waking up with no hangover in sight.

Empty calories don’t help your body

An empty calorie is nothing more than a zero nutrition calorie. Although you are getting a minimal amount of nutrition when you compare apples to oranges in this case 10 g of alcohol to 10 g of strawberries. there is absolutely no comparison as to which one is better for your body.

Alcohol causes irregular sleep

  • miss out on much-needed REM sleep
  • the body doesn’t repair as well when missing REM sleep
  • causes an accumulation effect because loss of sleep turns out to be a not so great workout due to the alcohol residing in your system

Drinking the night before race day isn’t smart

Your body’s first priority is to get rid of alcohol. So when you sleep the night before with alcohol in your system, it puts everything else on the back burner until the hangover is gone.


Does your physical fitness play a role in how quickly you recover from a hangover?

I actually think it does, based on my own experience. I was on a fishing trip with a total of four guys. We all had about the same amount of alcohol to drink. We were away from our wives so we drank more than we probably should have. The next morning everyone but me had a killer hang over including throwing up. I felt a little uneasy but no upset stomach. Also, later in the day I was feeling a lot better than the rest of the pack.

We all went to bed about the same time. The major difference that I could tell was that most of my fishing weights weren’t in any good physically fit shape. Also, you can’t throw age in the equation because I’m older than most of them by about 5 years. I looked for sceince to back this up but I came up with some strange articles that I would rather not share. I am guessing that when you’re body is more fit, it metabolize quicker, and coverts alcohol quicker and sends it on it’s way.

At the close

So don’t stop drinking alcohol and definitely let loose when the time is right. Like I said before and I’ll say it agian there is nothing like drinking a beer after a great race! Keep finishing races and drinking those beers!

RRCA Coach Scott Scott is a published author and RRCA certified running coach. He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 11th half marathon race. 

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