What could be better you ask? Nothing! As defending champion of the Levis JCC Run, Sweat and Beers 5K hosted in Boca Raton, Florida on a hot July night (7:00pm), I feel I can make that statement! The 5K is now in its 5th year and keeps getting better. Plus, if you’ve never run an evening race…you’ve got to try it! (Side note, for winning, I received a case of beer…so you may want to start training now!)
What: 5th Annual JCC Run, Sweat & Beers 5K
When: Thursday, July 16, 2015; race starts just after 7:00pm
Where: South County Regional Park; 11200 Park Access Rd, Boca Raton, Florida 33498; Race start is just outside Ampitheater/Dog Park; follow the signs!
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.)
Here are some important pull-outs from the article written by Christie Aschwanden.
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.
This post is not for my underage readers…so please be warned!
Earlier today, I had the pleasure of hanging out with the South Florida Runs group at Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach. There was a no-pressure and “no chip” 5K race/run (which I slept too late and missed) followed by a fun, BYO drinks/food/etc to share barbeque. While I missed the start of the run, I learned later that many of the competitors/participants chugged a beer before the start. As I said, this was a “no chip” 5K. Obviously they would be doing nothing of the sort before a real or “chipped” 5K…or maybe not?!?
It made me start thinking about whether drinking a beer before a run is a good or bad thing. Now I will admit, I am not a big drinker – and especially not a big beer drinker – so this is not really something I’ve really ever considered or contemplated…but I’m sure there are many of you that have.
In college at Brown University, the track and cross country teams held an annual relay race (at the end of the year) dubbed the “Beer Mile“ that involved running a lap, drinking a beer, running a lap, drinking a beer…and so on. (There are many track teams, schools, groups that do this – or so I’ve heard.) Now this was of course a game and definitely didn’t lead to any personal records (PRs)…and wasn’t intended to. But for the runners in today’s South Florida Runs 5K and the rest of us (21 and older runners)…should we actually consider adding a beer to our pre-race regimen? Well, I went out there to investigate…
Having a drink/beer the night before:
Carbo-loading right? Well, according to Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., “A 12-ounce bottle contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, which is equivalent to about half a slice of bread. What’s more, because of the way alcohol is metabolized, most of these excess carbs are stored as fat. So you’re actually fat-loading
Remember, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning drinking too much the night before a run or race could leave you dehydrated in the morning. (Drinking water before and after that beer may help…)
Calming the nerves. For some, yes this can be a good idea (especially if you’ve become used to the practice). But for those like me, that don’t usually drink, the night before a race is definitely not the time to start. In fact, some studies suggest that as little as 12 ounces can disrupt the most beneficial kind of sleep.
Having a drink/beer right before your run:
Again, it will potentially dehydrate you – especially if you are running in the hot sun, like many of the South Florida Runs guys and gals were today. Make sure you drink a lot of water before and after.
One runner and writer Christopher Prawdzik, in fact, goes on to say drinking before running can be dangerous. He says: “As alcohol intake increases, blood vessels constrict, reducing blood flow to muscles and therefore reducing endurance during workouts and extending recovery time afterward.”
Christopher adds: “For long-distance runners, the effects are even more serious. Restricted blood flow negatively affects the body’s heat regulators — and the door swings both ways. That means both the inability to stay cool in high heat and an abundance of heat loss on a cold day. The brain isn’t immune, either. If the heart can’t pump efficiently, the brain won’t get enough blood, so your balance and ability to focus suffer. But this also means the body can’t detect problems down the road. If you can’t balance or focus, you might not know when you’re thirsty. Unfortunately, alcohol’s most noticeable effect helps mask everything mentioned above. Euphoria, a sense of power, reduced inhibitions and an overall calming effect can tell the brain everything is OK.” Read Christopher’s entire article here.
So all in all, most of the “research” I found focused on enjoying running and how those runners that use the beer to relax seem to do better. However, using alcohol to train (like one would use protein drinks or Gatorade) is probably not such a good idea…And moderation is key (as always).