Alcohol Whilst Training
The festive season is upon us, and we all know that often it comes with double portions of hot toddies, mulled wine and plenty of drinks with friends, just because... It’s Christmas! But can we afford to do this whilst marathon training?
Not only does it mean more calories and extra weight to carry out on our runs with us, but alcohol also means hangovers, and very few people enjoy running on a hangover. In short, alcohol as part of a balanced diet with healthy foods and plenty of water won’t be harmful to your fitness plans. But, we thought it’d be interesting to take a closer look at the effect of alcohol, and how we can reverse any negatives.
It's a Diuretic
A diuretic is anything that increases the production of urine in the body, so it increases the level of water removed from the body. The more water you lose, the more dehydrated you get which can cause multiple issues for runners. Dehydration can increase the risk of muscle cramps, strains and pulls. It also increases general feelings of fatigue, making it harder to get out for the run in the first place.
So, if you’re heading out on a long run the day after a big night out, just make sure you are well hydrated to prevent any injury or unwanted tiredness. A top tip would be to alternate your drinks with a glass of water, or at least go for a light beer.
It Changes Your Sleep
Drinking more than one or two units of alcohol can leave you feeling exhausted. Alcohol makes you fall straight into deep sleep, skipping the first stage in the sleep cycle - Rapid Eye Movement (REM). A night or two of a disruption to your usual cycle can throw you off for many more nights to come leaving you feeling exhausted. Ultimately, meaning you have less energy to head out on a run let alone complete it.
So, a top tip would be to try and space your nights out amongst nights of normal sleeping. It'll make all the difference if you are simply only having one night of no REM.
It Changes Resources Distribution
When your body is exposed to alcohol, it invests the majority of it’s energy into removing the toxin from your body. To do that, it takes time and resources away from other processes usually occurring in our bodies such as the conversion of glucose into our blood. Runners need blood sugar to be at a constant, with plentiful supplies of sugar. Overall, drinking, lowers blood sugar and you’ll have less accessible energy to tap into when you’re out on your run.
A tip here would be to make sure you have plenty of food alongside your alcohol, and plenty of things to keep your energy levels up on your run.
Despite some of the negative affects of alcohol, let’s face it, we are still going to drink it.. IT’S CHRISTMAS! Realistically, if you drink sensibly, only on special occasions and pay attention to our top tips: It shouldn't impact too heavily on your running this Christmas.