Alcohol & Marathon Training

As we're sure you're aware, alcohol can be a dominant part of the student lifestyle.

When it comes to running, the occasional drink won’t make too much of a difference but a big drinking session a couple of times a week will. Alcohol consumption can however essentially wipe out all the hard work you have been doing. We aren’t saying cut out alcohol altogether, but it is wise to cut down and considering not drinking alcohol before long runs.

If you consume alcohol the night before a long run or particular a race it can have a disruptive impact on your body. Drinking alcohol can affect your sleep cycle which in turn affects your body’s ability to store glycogen, the crucial energy store that is needed for endurance. Alcohol can also release chemicals that attacks your hormone testosterone which an essential component in aiding the regeneration of your muscles. Finally, alcohol can dehydrate your body for up to a week depending on how much alcohol you consume. Whilst you are dehydrated you are more at risk from injuries such as; muscle cramp, pulls and strains. If you do drink, it is important that you drink as much water as you can the next day. The reason for this being, alcohol absorbed through your stomach and small intestine has a negative effect on the water balance in your muscle cells and you need to re balance this.

However, despite all this talk about alcohol being bad for you when marathon training you will be glad to hear that certain types of alcohol, in moderation, can actually be beneficial. Red wine for example contains a chemical, resveratrol, which reduces your blood pressure and as a consequence protects your cardiovascular system.

Can I run with a hangover?

So you go for a catch up drink with friends, and one drink turns into two and before you know it the wine is being poured far too freely and you wake up the next morning feeling a little delicate with the decision of to run or not to run. We do not recommend running off a hangover. However, many runners do it all the time - and hats off to them!

If you choose to run after drinking, don’t expect to run a PB. If you are even struggling to sit up without feeling sick, forego the run. Rest, hydrate and take on the run later in the day or the following day.

Before hitting the roads make sure that you have hydrated your body with water and/or an energy drink, without this you will feel very sluggish on your run as you won’t have replenished they electrolytes that have been sapped up by the alcohol. You will know that you are hydrated when your urine is clear or a light yellow. Also when running, drop your pace and your distance.

Bottom line:

You don’t have to cut out all alcohol when you’re training for a marathon, but it’s a good idea to limit your consumption generally, and abstain before running days.