Friday, January 18, 2013

Alcohol & Training

The effects of alcohol on training

When I started on my journey, I consumed alcohol on a regular basis.  I would have a few drinks a few nights a week and a little more on the weekends.  When I decided to get serious about my training, (just before marathon training began) I decided to give up the alcohol completely.  I did this back in 1996 when I ran two marathons in the same year and I had great results.  In March of 2012, I went cold turkey as they say and frankly, because of my commitment to my training it was actually very easy.  The hard part was convincing others I was NOT going to have a drink while being with them.  My goal was to give it up while training, I never told myself I would never drink again and I have stayed with that philosophy even now.

I wanted to share this story because there are many implications if you drink alcohol and want to change your health for the better.  There are the obvious one we know about – the alcoholism, sleep deprivation, the expense and the overall control it can have on your life if you let it.  Growing up with parents who were alcoholics taught me firsthand how bad it can be if you let it.  I will not dwell on these issues but rather focus on how I benefited from this change.

First, when I gave up the alcohol, I dropped about 12 lbs. in a month.  This was my fastest weight loss period in my journey to good health!  I did not realize the implications of the drinking until I did more research.  What I learned is alcohol has a seriously negative effect on training.  It does two major things; first, the alcohol prevents your body from oxygenating as efficiently while you are working out, even on the day after having the drinks!  Secondly, if you drink after your workout, your accelerated metabolism goes way down after the first drink, therefore counteracting on the positive benefits for your workout.  Essentially the fat burning machine you fired up is now doused in water and goes out!

The other benefit for me personally is when I drank I made poorer decisions when it came to my eating.  I did not make the best food choices when I drank and I probably ate more than I needed because the drinks hampered my judgment.  I also discovered I could now get up earlier to work out because I felt so much better in the mornings.  I also sleep better and do not snore anymore!

I know there are tons of articles about the positive effects of wine/beer for your health, but I firmly believe my decision has had a more positive impact than having a drink or two could ever have.  As they say, you can make anything look good on paper in a study!

I did not write this to sway you to give up all your alcohol, but instead I just wanted to share with you what I gained by doing it.  I hope that you have gained some tidbits of information that can help your overall progress to good health and active training.

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