Saturday, April 16, 2011

Some Thoughts On Alcohol and the Runner

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," quote by Ben Franklin. I only became aware of that quote by Ben a few years ago. Obviously, he was a beer drinker. For runners,beer has been the drink of choice for what seems like forever. In the past I wrote an article on alcohol and the runner, after rereading it recently I felt as if I came across as one of the people who were part of the temperance movement of the 1920's in America. What follows are some more carefully considered thoughts relating to alcohol and the runner.

In recent years we have been told that the equivalent of two drinks a day is actually good for your health. As a sidenote,and I am not talking conspiracy theory here, but, the cost of everything has been going up for ages but I can still buy beer at incredibly low prices. A few examples, some 24oz cans of beer cost 99 cents while a 12 pk of a name brand brew may go for $5.99 or $6.99. Why's that? Is beer inflation proof,or........? I digress.

Let's look at some facts about alcohol,I'll start with beer. Some runners will say they are replenishing vitamins and fluids lost during a race or run by drinking beer.The truth is,is that beer acts as a diuretic which means it causes you to pass large amounts of fluids so it actually dehydrates rather than rehydrates. Also,beer,as well as other forms of alcohol, destroy B vitamins,particularly B1(thiamine) and folic acid. B vitamins are essential to ones' overall health and well-being.They reduce stress,enhance immune and nervous system functioning,promote cell growth,healthy skin and muscle tone.In addition, they increase energy production and lower cholesterol and triglycerides.I'd be remiss not to mention that beer has lots of what they call "empty calories." So,you probably figure that I am about to advocate abstinence from this "demon alcohol." Hold on,let's not jump to conclusions here.

Although I hate to use cliches I will use this one,"everything in moderation." One of the most endearing qualities about alcohol is the way it has a tendency to be abused,and worse yet,make addicts of its habitual users. Everyone who drinks on a regular basis should consider the following: can I go 5 days without drinking a beer(or alcohol of your choice) when I have some sitting in my refrigerator? Do I often crack open the first one saying I'm only going to have two and the next thing I know I've just opened my 4th. Have I ever told myself I really need to cut down on how much I drink? A famous nutritionist wrote one time, "If you are not in control then you are out of control." Do you sense that perhaps alcohol has a control over you? Well, now is the time for you to regain control.

For those of us who live for the run,and anyone else for that matter, daily excessive alcohol drinking is not the way to go. It can ruin your running and your health,just Google the name Henry Rono if you want to see an example of one running great who lost it all.

I offer this advice to runners in closing: hydrate with water and electrolyte fluids after running,eat right and take the needed supplements,and,by all means,reward yourself by kicking back on the weekend or your day off and have a few cold ones but always be aware of who is in control. Oh yeah,and remember what Ben Franklin said,"God loves us and wants us to be happy," so have a beer on him today.

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