What tastes best after a race? And what helps me run better?
For a lot of runners, beer is going to be high on that list. JandA Racing, a company that organizes five of the big running events here in Virginia Beach, is famous for their beer sponsorships and big after-parties. Their finisher medals are specifically designed to double-purpose as bottle openers.
But just as there are a lot of different opinions about caffeine, different diets, energy gels and drinks and protein vs. carbo-loading, there are questions about beer. What does the research show?
The runners in the study linked to here found out, in brief summary, that women did perform better after consuming a “real” beer, meaning not an O’Doul’s, the night before their races and recover better after enjoying the beer post-race. The men, on the other hand showed decreased performance with beer. As a result, one man went beer-free for several months, with a 3 minute improvement in his marathon time. He later said “that just wasn’t worth it.” The study has a lot of limitations, including a small sample size (5 men and 5 women) and a lot of confounding variables. But it makes sense, because women do metabolize alcohol differently, and we do seem to respond differently to things like carbo-loading, the traditional big pasta meal before races. My own anecdote involves my one and only race win occurring on the second day of a back-to-back race weekend, and the morning after I attended a Beer Festival. I focused on the different pumpkin ales that afternoon, so it might have been the pumpkin. I guess I’ll just have to do more research.