Readers’ Roundtable: Do You Drink Alcohol During A Training Cycle?

Hasher passed out in the wild. Note the nearly empty beer, the tall socks, the generally poor choice of habitat...
It’s tough to combine drinking with running!

Well I’ve done it again, guys. Saturday night was the wrap party for my last movie job and, well, I went a little overboard at the open bar. The consequences of my whiskey consumption included dancing until way too late (with a Prince impersonator!), making an ass out of myself in front of people who may or may not still be my friends, crying through three pounds of eyeliner on the Subway while trying to justify my awful behavior, and a hangover that made my 16 miler look completely impossible.

It was…fun? Sorta?  Ehhh…

I knew I had that 16 mile run on deck Sunday, but I got caught up in the party anyway and just plain got out of control.  And even if we don’t get hammered, drinking can lead to late nights and sluggish mornings.  It begs the question, wouldn’t it just be easier to give up drinking during the training cycle?

So I want to hear from you, Salties!  Do you drink alcohol while you’re training, or do you abstain or cut back?  And if you abstain, how do you handle social drinking situations?

Cinnamon made Salty Running, works on movies and TV and drinks lots of coffee. She is on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is an eclectic mix of finding wholeness as an average runner, celebrating her faster peers, curious reactions, satirical humor and more.

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13 comments

  1. Yes yes yes I drink alcohol when I’m training! Granted I’m not an elite runner, I refuse to let training change my life in drastic ways. Mainly, I try to insert training into my already hectic life. It’s no fun to be the party pooper that has to go home early for a run. Instead I switch to the clear liquors (ones that cause less hangovers) and save my binging for the post run recovery.

    Running is the best cure for a hangover AND I’ve had my best race times on hangover days.

    1. I used to be able to get a little tipsy and still rock out a good run but since having kids (or getting old) I seriously cannot handle a hangover! They just wipe me out! Maybe I’m just a wussy now 🙂

  2. I’m more of a wine with dinner girl, although that (too) often turns into a half bottle on a Tuesday night. I often think about how much better my running and my life in general would be if I could keep it to once a week or so, but I find the more I think about going into deprivation mode, the more I drink! I don’t think us running types are generally all that good at moderation :o)

  3. I’ll chime in for the “no” side, although it’s not a total no. I don’t drink during the week when I’m in heavy training. I do my longest runs on Saturday and I’ll allow myself a glass of wine or two on Saturday night. Admittedly, I’m not a huge drinker to begin with and only have two or three drinks per week either way.

    As to social situations – if I’m with non-runners who I know don’t “understand” and will therefore pressure me, I just go with the mocktail. Tonic with lime in a rocks glass or cranberry juice and Sprite in a martini glass looks real enough.

  4. I still drink. I’m a beer girl, so a beer or two during the week does not seem to hurt my training. It’s carbs, right?!?! 😉 I usually don’t drink anything but water the night before a long run, or the week before a goal race. I’m not a “hit it hard” type person, but I don’t completely avoid it either.

  5. Since having kids I really can’t handle drinking much. If I drink more than 1 drink I have trouble sleeping and get a hangover so easily. That being said i will have a drink or 2 just not the night before an early long or hard run and not more than 2 lest I’m hungover for half the week! Seriously, I went hog wild at my friend’s wedding a couple of years ago on a Saturday night and was hungover until the following Wednesday!!! Ha!

  6. I drink! I don’t drink alcohol the night before my workouts, but I do drink throughout training with the exception of 2 weeks before my goal race. I go on the wagon because I tend to sleep better and not eat as much junk food. If I get too wild and crazy, it takes me a good 2-3 days to recover, unlike when I was in my 20s!

  7. Oh god yes. I pretty much have a cocktail or glass of wine or a beer every day, training or not…I rarely drink enough to be hungover, though. If I wake up with a headache, I just drink some water and deal with it.

    I wish my aerobic system was as well-trained as my liver.

    1. I’m in your camp, Jennifer! Whether it’s a rough workday or an anticipated date night with my honey, I drink in drink-worthy moments. I find my performance is on par with what it would be if I didn’t drink, so long as I’m internally motivated. Alcohol can certainly hamper my willpower for a tough workout, long run, or even a humdrum easy run. Leading up to a goal race, though, I’ll cut significantly back at least a week or two prior. Further, I build in those crazy nights on purpose! If I’d been in Cinna’s position, I’d have moved that 16-miler to accommodate a night worth celebrating.

      1. Ooh, I love your fresh perspective, Tarragon! Shifting the training schedule to accommodate social functions never even occurred to me, since I’m struggling to squeeze in 6 days a week. But it’s not really THAT big a deal to rearrange a little bit!

  8. Like Jennifer, I have a cocktail or glass of wine most every day with dinner, while unwinding the day’s events. Sometimes I have two drinks. But I drink at least one glass of water to match every drink and am usually asleep by 10 pm, and don’t feel the effects the next day.

  9. This whole “1 glass of wine in the evening” thing is a very healthy way of drinking, I guess. I don’t drink at all when left to my own devices; I have seltzer at home!

    But as a single gal in the city, it seems like everything I do revolves around drinks. Haven’t seen a friend in a while? Get together for drinks! Socializing with coworkers after work? You’re doing it in a bar. Dating? Fuhgeddaboudit, as they say. I happen to like bourbon a lot, and I love a crazy raging party, so I’m mostly okay with the occasional (reasonably paced) binge, but that stuff doesn’t gel so well with a long run the next day.

    Clove, I love your practical advice for adhering to social norms while practicing restraint with mocktails! I fully plan to put it into effect at the big party I’m attending this weekend. Oh–and I’ll eat dinner first, unlike last time…the shame. The shame…