For some people, running is seen as a way to counterbalance the effects of consuming alcohol or puffing the occasional cigarette. When you’re training hard, you’ve earned a night out once in a while, the thinking goes. And there’s no doubt runners enjoy a night out at the bar. A 1996 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that recreational runners drink more alcohol than their sedentary counterparts. As well, a 2008 poll sponsored by Runner’s World magazine found that 2 per cent of the 2,500 respondents smoked but kept it a secret from their running friends, while 4 per cent made no bones about lighting up. But as much as running may seem like an excuse to indulge vices, experts say alcohol can hurt performance and impact training for much longer than some runners may think.
A runner’s performance can be greatly improved by relaxation and occasionally easing up on a strict training schedule, says John Hill, a past winner of the Vancouver Marathon and coach of the Vancouver Falcons Athletics Club.
“That definitely benefits [runners],” Mr. Hill says. Getting away from a rigid schedule or self-imposed demands to perform, whether by training in a less structured way or going to the bar with friends, can take the pressure off and help runners find renewed motivation. “Whether it’s physical balance or other things in your life, it’s absolutely critical,” Mr. Hill says.
These days I'm taking a hiatus from the bottle to tone up a bit for my sister's wedding in the first week of May, but otherwise this story rings true for me. Especially during long runs when I start craving strong drinks like tequila margaritas or dry martinis. Strange, but delicious and hard earned!