Q+A: Can I drink alcohol and still run well later?

Q I’ve been invited to a party on a Friday night. The problem is that I’ve already entered a 10-miler on the following Sunday, and it’s one I’ve trained hard for so that I can get a personal best. Can I drink alcohol on Friday and still run well on Sunday?

A It’s a dilemma that many runners face – can we mix ‘business’ with pleasure? Of course, it is possible to down a few pints on a Friday night and run on the Sunday, but it probably isn’t the best way to prepare for a race – especially if it’s one you really want to do well in.

If you have planned the 10-miler as a PB race then go to the party, but stick to soft drinks. You risk being branded a party pooper, but it will guarantee that your run isn’t compromised. If you’re really committed to racing hard, then leave the party early as well. Do this to make sure you get a good night’s sleep on Friday – it’s not the rest you get on the night before a race that counts, but that on the night before the night before. Doing both of these things will remind yourself how committed you are to the race.

If the lure of a couple of drinks does prove difficult to resist, it won’t necessarily be a disaster. As long as you don’t overdo it, the alcohol should have worked its way out of your system after 36 hours. No matter how much you drink, though, it’s important that you rehydrate. You can do this at the party by following each alcoholic beverage with a non-alcoholic drink. Then, before you go to bed, drink at least half a litre of water. Better still, down a sports drink to replenish the electrolytes flushed out by the excess urine that drinking inevitably produces. On Saturday, continue to rehydrate with sports drinks and water. If you get carried away, these are also the best cures for hangovers. Coffee, the traditional favourite for beating booze- induced headaches, won’t help much as it will dehydrate you further. —Rob Spedding, RW Staff Writer