Effects Alcohol Has on Running Performance

Drinking alcohol is not unusual for runners all over the world. Some runners, just like ordinary people, like to have casual drinks on Friday nights. Drinking is also a normal way of celebrating after a hard-earned victory–not only with runners, but with other athletes as well. It is common to see runners rewarding themselves with drinking alcohol after completing marathons.

Still, is it really advisable for runners to consume alcohol? How much liquor is too much?

American College of Sports Medicine stands firm that alcohol consumption does not improve exercise capacity and may even decrease performance levels despite the claim of some runners that drinking prior to running improves running performance.

While some alcoholic drinks, like red wine, is good for your health as it has chemicals that reduce blood pressure, there are still many drawbacks alcohol consumption entails.

University of Auckland Professor David Cameron-Smith said that, “Most people should be aware of the impact alcohol has if you consume it the night before a race, but not everyone appreciates the disruptive impact it has on the way your body adapts to handling the training, and that’s the most important part.” Alcohol intake has negative effects which not only causes to poor performance, but can lead to injuries as well.

Alcohol is a diuretic, or a substance that increase urine production. Dehydration can result from drinking and hydration is extremely important in strenuous workouts like running. If you really want to drink even days before actually running, make sure to drink lots of water to make up for the ones you’ve lost.

Drinking liquor can also disrupt sleeping. Rest is essential to delivering a good running performance. Alcohol changes sleeping patterns and causes sleeping discomfort.

Motor skills and coordination are also greatly affected by alcohol. Alcohol slows you down and this means less focus which can lead to accidents and injuries while running.

Another downside of alcohol consumption is that it can add to beer bellies due to empty calories alcohol brings. Alcohol has seven calories per gram which doesn’t have nutritional benefits. These calories may become fat. Weight gain due to excessive fats is unadvisable for running as it will slow you down.

Alcohol also slows down muscle recovery because it affects liver function. Increased blood flow is one of the after effects of drinking too much alcohol. The liver regulates blood flow as well as body recovery after workout—meaning it can suffer performing two jobs at a time if you’ve had a drink before running. Muscle recovery is crucial to regular runners.

Too much alcohol intake can also hinder muscle growth. Alcohol has a huge impact on testosterone or male hormones which is essential to muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is the process where proteins are produced by combining amino acids.

Drinking more than 12 oz (355ml) of beer, 5 oz (148ml) of wine and 1.5 oz (44ml) of spirits pre-running is considered too much.

Many runners are still not ready to give up drinking, and they don’t have to. Keeping the drinking to a moderate level may just be the key to be able to enjoy alcoholic drinks while running regularly. While having too much to drink can cause problematic consequences, it is still possible to drink occasionally.

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