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Why You Should Avoid Alcohol While Training for a Race

that time of year again: New Year’s resolutions time. People have made their
New Year’s resolutions and strive to accomplish their goals. Of course, what’s
the most popular resolution out there? Running! Whether it’s a 5K, 10K,
half-marathon or marathon, training for an upcoming race is a common way to get
in shape and feel confident in the new year.

to say, one of the most important components when training for a race is your
diet. What you eat and drink throughout the training time plays a huge role in
how well the race goes. And what’s one beverage with a notoriously
negative impact on training? Alcohol. If
you strive to live a healthy lifestyle while training for an upcoming race,
consider avoiding alcohol these next few weeks. Here are some ideas why.

Alcohol dehydrates you.

any runner, and he or she will tell you: hydration is key when it comes to
training. Your body runs on water, which means if you want to perform well
athletically, then hydration is critical. Hydration can even impact your body’s
ability to recover and repair post-workout. Alternatively, alcohol actually
dehydrates the consumer.

Salty Running, alcohol dehydrates you by
affecting the water balance in your cells. This puts you at an increased risk
of cramps, pulls and strains, and impairs your cells’ ability to make glycogen,
the fuel your cells use to make energy for endurance. Which means if you
consistently drink while training for a race, you dehydrate your body and make
training more difficult and dangerous.

Alcohol affects your sleep.

all been there: the morning after you’ve had a bit too much to drink, and your
head feels groggy from lack of sleep. When training, your body needs to be in
tip-top shape so you can perform to the best of your ability. Sleep plays an
essential role in our health, so when alcohol affects your sleep, it also
influences your health.

an article by
TIME, Hal Higdon, the author of Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide, says, “Sleep loss is
another [negative] factor that comes from drinking. When you’re training for a
marathon, you likely need extra sleep. If you have an early training run after
a night out, you’re not going to be able to train well.” Without adequate
sleep, you also run the risk of getting sick, which could severely affect your
and the big race day. More
often than note, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and protect your healthy
sleep patterns by avoiding alcohol.

Alcohol has empty calories.

diet has a huge influence on training efforts, including the calories you take
in. If you consistently consume alcohol during training season, you absorb a
numerous amount of “empty calories.”
Runners Connect explains this: “Alcohol is
metabolized in the body as fat. The by-products of alcohol metabolism are
converted to fatty acids, which are stored in the liver and sent to the
bloodstream. The more alcohol you drink, the more you raise the level of lipids
in your blood.”

empty calories have little to no nutritional value and can add up over time,
potentially leading to impaired liver function, lower metabolism, mineral
depletion and weight gain (even when you’re running). This means both large and
small amounts of alcohol consumed during training can still have a negative
effect on your health.

Alcohol slows you down.

drinking alcohol during training season can slow you down by its influence on
your muscles.
TIME says, “Excessive drinking
can also reduce your muscle blood flow which weakens them. Running when your
legs are feeling a hangover could lead to injuries.” For instance, most
training programs for long races are approximately 16 weeks long. This is
because when training, you physiologically change the cellular structure by
strengthening your muscle cells to perform more efficiently.

the other hand, alcohol increases the stress hormone cortisol in your body,
which then reduces the human growth hormone by
up to 70%. These hormones are
necessary for your muscle repair and growth during the training process. Over
time, consistent alcohol consumption can impede your muscles from repairing,
slowing your race times down. Which means if you want a fast race, alcohol
should not be on the drink list.

we head into the new year, people everywhere eagerly cling to their New Year’s
resolutions, including running a race. No matter how far you plan on running on
this year, consider eliminating alcohol from your diet and substituting it with
a healthier alternative. You will feel healthier, happier and more prepared
than ever to run your fastest race yet.