Do Running and Alcohol Mix?

By Dr. Willi Heepe
© Betty Shepherd
© Betty Shepherd

You don’t have to give up alcohol completely if you are participating in endurance sports. Nonetheless you should be aware that alcohol in the period immediately following exertion or in the build-up to competition doesn’t have an entirely beneficial effect. For example, alcohol reduces the glycogen deposits and in so doing also reduces your precious stockpile of carbohydrates.

During periods of demanding competition or in training camps it’s consequently better to forego regular consumption of alcohol, to allow for the best possible recovery. But a small glass of beer or red wine is certainly not forbidden. If you drink a glass of beer the evening before a marathon, that won’t harm your ability to perform, provided you’re well prepared. But don’t lift more than one–that will work against you.

After running you should definitely replace the liquid lost with water, fruit juice blends or alcohol-free beer. This is because alcohol deprives the body of water and you’ve already lost enough of that in running. Then, if you just can’t resist, celebrate your personal victory with a modest amount of alcohol.