Beer and finish lines go hand in hand.
Ask any runner, and most will assure you that nothing is as immediately satisfying at the end of a race as a finishers medal placed around your neck, and a glass of frosty, cold beer in your hand. This, of course, is exactly why races often go out of their way to advertise unique finishers medals AND beer sponsorships. Because beer just tastes better after running a ridiculous number of miles.
Well, that or we want to numb the memory of the pain we just inflicted on our feet and legs.
Whatever the reason, many runners are happy to participate in that post run brew. And research shows we are even more likely to reach for an ale or a lager after a workout compared to non workout days.
But is post run beer drinking a good idea? Well, it turns out that no one can really agree.
In recent years, a number of articles and research studies have touted beer as the “perfect” recovery drink. An equal number of articles and research studies have said the complete opposite, that alcohol after a workout can be detrimental.
The argument for post recovery beer includes relaxation, better sleep, and even pain management. Nothing like a tall pint to make you forget about your sore quads! And in theory, the more rest we get immediately after a workout, the better and faster we will recover. According to beer enthusiasts, such as CraftBeer.com, beer contains antioxidants similar to those that promote heart health. The polyphenols that help muscles recover also reduce cholesterol and ward off cancer. Beer lowers blood pressure and, because it contains calcium and silicon, promotes bone growth. And beer has been demonstrated to improve cognitive function and memory disorders. Since beer is brewed with all natural ingredients, it’s got to be healthier than an artificially manufactured sports drink, right?
Well, before you reach for that six pack, know that a lot of scientific research studies will tell you to hold off on that post run beer. Despite the supposed benefits, it appears that post exercise recovery is actually impaired by alcohol consumption. The problem mainly lies in the fact that alcohol is a diuretic, which can cause dehydration; the complete opposite effect of what we are trying to achieve with a post run recovery drink.
Other studies have shown that by tampering with both the alcohol and sodium content in beer, we can potentially lessen the negative effects of alcohol on post run recovery. If you tamper enough with it, you can actually help
Which leads us to the next up and coming product…recovery beer.
Yes, it is a real thing, well almost. Lean Machine, an ale produced by a team of scientists and nutritionists in Canada, supposedly has the ideal proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, nutrients, and electrolytes to help facilitate recovery, all while allowing you to enjoy a tasty adult beverage. It’s currently undergoing consumer testing, but will hopefully hit the shelves for your post run rehydration in the near future.
In the meantime, however, it seems safe to say that a post race celebratory beer, on occasion and in moderation, isn’t going to completely ruin your running career. The key word here being “moderation”.