Should You Be Drinking Beer After Your Runs? 6 Reasons You Should!
I doubt anyone would say to a runner, “Hey! You should down a beer as you are gearing up for your run today!” No… most of us agree that beer and running do not necessarily mix if you are talking about pre-race prep.
But have you ever been in the middle of a long race when you come upon someone handing out beer?
Even better than happening upon beer mid-race is when you cross the finish line, and someone hands you an ice-cold brew. Let’s face it, that feels awesome for so many reasons. Some runners ask themselves if they are setting themselves up for a good race recovery if they grab a beer first.
Great questions. Let’s dive in.
Is It Okay To Drink Beer Before, During, or After a Run?
While I would not choose beer as my main hydration before a run, I have to admit I have run after drinking a beer. It wasn’t exactly intentional and certainly was not a race environment. Let me explain. My friends and I run every Saturday morning and often will share a drink or two in the park after we run.
More than one of us has either run before the group run, or run after the group run, or even both! If it is a very hot day and someone cracks a cold one, it can be hard to turn it down. The result? Sometimes a running group member will have a quick beer before heading out to finish her mileage.
If it is just one beer, and you are not trying to hammer out hard miles, there does not seem to be any ill effects. If you are pushing high mileage and need real hydration, on the other hand, beer does not seem to do the trick.
Looking at having a beer after a run? I have zero problems with that!
Kevin Cleary on drinking during a race: “Here I am at mile 4 of a half marathon. I was handed a full beer and drank it throughout the next mile! Also, anytime there are cups of beer on the side of a course (it doesn’t matter the distance), I’m stopping for one! Life is too short not to have fun, and I’m not an elite runner!
I had two small cups at mile 20 in Philly during my goal race to break five hours during a 26.2. In terms of recovery, a post-race or even post-run beer is awesome! I’m a huge proponent of the shower beer after a run as well!”
Is Beer Bad for Runners?
Beer could have some negative effects if you only drank beer post-workout. Since beer has dehydrating qualities, drinking beer without also resorting to your electrolytes and taking in water and/or a sports drink can be bad.
It could also be detrimental to your health and training if you overindulge regularly. A small or moderate amount of alcohol will not have ill effects on your training. However, drinking too much can cause the athlete to lack the nutrients needed to stay strong, healthy, and recover.
Kate Parkinson of the Sub-30 Club: “Our running club is based in a craft beer pub. Beer is WHY we run. It’s the perfect recovery drink when all your sweaty mates surround you.”
6 Reasons To Drink a Beer After Running
There are actually some very legitimate reasons to drink beer after a workout. If you are a non-drinker, you can substitute alcohol-free beer and still reap the benefits!
- Antioxidants: In particular, your dark beers are rich in antioxidants.
- Relieves muscle soreness.
- Carb Loading: Have you heard the saying that a beer is a pork chop in every can?
- Hydrating: A light beer or two can be hydrating if you consume it with adequate water.
- Refreshing: Does anything taste quite as good as an ice-cold beer after a long run on a hot day? Need I say more?
- Social: Having a beer with friends (or thousands of complete strangers) post-race can be a fun and social thing.
Honore MacCoy-Patty added this to the conversation, “A very good friend has a beer in her ultra drop bag for the later miles since it’s often the best way for her to get calories/carbs in. I am ALL FOR the post-run beer, the bathtub beer, the just crossed the finish line beer, and most definitely the post ultra beer, which is immediately following my recovery drink (for normal calories) since it’s often the only thing. I can keep down.”
Is Beer Good for Exercise Recovery?
Men’s Health Magazine determined that light beer can actually be a benefit to exercise recovery. They found that if it is low alcohol content, it can be just as good at rehydration as water!
High in polyphenols, those antioxidants are good for your body. Although beer can also improve heart health, we would be hard-pressed to prove it is better for recovery than other things.
Linda Reilly is an ultramarathoner who does not hesitate to throw back a drink on the course. When I asked if she ever drinks during a run, she said, “Does fireball count? This was during JFK 50 miler. I had the shot at around mile 45.”
Is it Okay to Drink Alcohol Before or After a Run?
So why stop at running and beer? What about other alcohol?
In case you wonder where I stand on the issue, I believe that some of us work hard so we can play hard. These photos represent something amazing that started as a result of the pandemic.
At the height of Covid, when none of us was getting any social interaction, we would meet for a socially distanced run. After the run, we would often have a drink in the park. Now mind you, when Covid hit here in Wisconsin, it was March. March in NE Wisconsin is cold.
Yes, that means we were having a cocktail in very cold temperatures. This fun tradition continued and, even now, when things have opened up, we periodically have cocktails in the park after the run. None of us overdo it, but we sure do laugh and enjoy one another company.
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