Every once in a while I seem to post a blog that peaks people’s interest…the most recent one being: Have A Beer…Or Maybe Not. One of my friends from the SouthFloridaRuns group, Andy, mentioned that when has a beer before a race or run, it’s purely for relaxation. He doesn’t do it to run faster and hit a personal record (PR); he grabs a beer when he just wants to have a good time and not go for time. As he said, “Having the beer before the run ensures that it will be a fun, relaxing run; Obviously I won’t be going for PRs or be super competitive.” I then wondered, if on some of those runs he does actually go faster – because he’s relaxed without any stress. I asked him but he wasn’t sure that he ever hit any PRs post beer consumption. Another guy in the group, Joey, says he will sometimes consume a few glasses of wine the night before a race. It’s his trademark. I’ll have to follow-up with him as to whether he feels it helps him…
While discussing all of this, Sam (leader of the SouthFloridaRuns crew) mentioned a study he had seen about how drinking alcohol/beer may help women more than men. I had not found the study in my research so once I came home, I immediately located it to share it here. So here it is – straight from Runners World: Beer Run! (Note that this scientific article is about the post run beer not the pre-run beer as I wrote about in my last post.)
- Turns out the research on alcohol and exercise is as herky-jerky as our culture’s attitude toward the bottle. Most early studies investigated alcohol’s potential as a performance enhancer. It seems ridiculous now, but during the 1904 Olympic Marathon, U.S. gold medalist Thomas Hicks was given a mixture of brandy, strychnine, and egg whites in an effort to gain a competitive edge. Many coaches then believed alcohol boosted energy.
- Being a former scientist, I had my own theories about how drinking and running mix, and I couldn’t resist putting them to the test. The nearby Colorado Mesa University had just opened the Monfort Family Human Performance Research Lab, a state-of-the-art exercise-science facility that seemed like the perfect venue to explore alcohol’s effects on running performance. My friend Gig Leadbetter, Ph.D., coaches the school’s cross-country team and is an exercise scientist at the Monfort Lab. He’s also a home brewer and winemaker and, without any arm-twisting, agreed to put together a study for Runner’s World.
- We’d recruited five men and five women—myself included—ranging in age from 29 to 43, all moderate drinkers (defined as drinking less than the recommended daily limits of two drinks per day for men, one for women) and who ran at least 35 miles per week…Everyone reconvened the following Friday evening for the first Beer Run. We ran on treadmills for 45 minutes at a pace that felt steady, like tempo, but not overly strenuous. Then we gathered on the patio behind the lab and drank cold beer (or the placebo) and devoured plates of pasta and tomato sauce (carbs!). The next morning, volunteers returned to the lab for the first Exhaustion Run, a task as grueling as it sounds. After we ran at a fast clip for as long as possible, researchers measured our heart rates and metabolic factors, such as oxygen consumption and carbon-dioxide production. Every three minutes, they asked us to rate how hard we were working.
- Right after the second Exhaustion Run, I sat down with Leadbetter to review a few results. The first shock was personal: I had assumed my second Exhaustion Run was so poor because I had drunk the real beer the night before. Wrong! I had actually been served the placebo the previous evening. Surely my results were a fluke. Leadbetter sent all the data to Bob Pettitt, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist and statistics expert at Minnesota State, Mankato. “The women did better after beer, but the men canceled it out by doing worse,” says Leadbetter. The five women ran an average of 22 percent longer the morning after drinking Fat Tire, while the men ran 21 percent shorter.