We are right in the middle of the race season in Australia, which also coincides with the start of Spring and warmer weather. This often means that race day is followed by a post-run celebratory beer - but what effect is this really having on your body? With the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival coming up on Sunday 17 September, we speak to sports nutritionist Kira Sutherland about whether you should re-think your post-run beer.
What effect does alcohol have after a run?
Alcohol has been shown to slow down glycogen replacement so it actually will slow down your recovery. Then if you injure yourself at all in a long race, it also slows down the healing process. Even if you’re only planning to have a few sips, or one glass, people tend to drink more than they planned and more than they usually do on days that they’ve exercised more. Also, when people drink alcohol they don’t tend to make healthy food choices to refuel, and there’s plenty of research showing consuming alcohol means you are going to make poor food choices.
Surely alcohol is better than nothing -wouldn’t alcohol help to rehydrate?
Alcohol is not the world’s greatest way to rehydrate. The big thing is actually replacing your glycogen stores, which is your stored carbohydrates, right after a big run. Research says it’s best to fuel yourself within 30-40 minutes post training. This timeframe is most optimum and, again, if you had a really long run, you’re looking at mainly wanting to refuel with carbohydrates – but you still want a little bit of protein to help support the muscle damage for full recovery. Alcohol is not the best choice for carbohydrate loading as it doesn’t help to replace and restore your glycogen stores that have been really used up in that run.
Have a meal and rehydrate properly, then please wait at least two hours after a race before you drink alcohol!
What are some other common mistakes people make when it comes to sports nutrition?
Drinking alcohol is one of the common mistakes when it comes to sports nutrition. Some other common issues people face when it comes to preparation for races such as the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival include:
- Some people under fuel. They don’t actually figure out how to have a race plan and how much they actually should be taking in per hour.
- Many also don’t know how to fuel properly for a really long event. When this happens they often slow down because they run out of fuel.
- Then there is the opposite where people over-focus on their fuel plan and they don’t listen to their bodies when they may need need to pull back on how much food they are having and listen to their bodies.
For more detailed dietary information for training for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, view my comprehensive marathon nutrition guide here.
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