Official beer mile rules require drinking a whole can of beer, running a quarter of a mile (one lap of a standard athletics track), and repeating both three more times (penalty lap if you throw up). Obviously, this is ill-advised: consuming four alcoholic beverages in a short period of time is considered binge drinking. Here’s what happens if you partake:
Each 355ml beer occupies the same volume in your stomach, which has about a 960ml. Over the course of a beer mile, you’ll consume 1.4 litres, plus carbonation. Warm beer lessens the amount of carbonation, which helps the beer go down easier. Within a minute of drinking, a small amount of alcohol passes through the stomach lining and enters the bloodstream, leading to feelings of euphoria.
Most of the alcohol is absorbed by the small intestine. But because you’re chugging beers quickly while running, you may experience GI distress, cramping and vomiting (requiring that penalty lap).
This organ is responsible for breaking down alcohol, but drinking four beers in a matter of minutes doesn’t give the liver time to do its job. You can break down one beer, or about 15 grams, in 60 minutes. But in this mile, you’re consuming 60 grams of alcohol in about 10 minutes. You’ll need about five hours to process the alcohol.
For the average 10.5 stone adult, every beer consumed raises blood alcohol levels by .02 percent - four beers brings you to the legal driving limit of .08 percent (if you’re smaller or under the weather, you’ll get there with fewer drinks). And because your liver hasn’t had time to process the alcohol, your blood levels may be even higher. Bring your own designated driver!
Alcohol impacts your judgment, coordination, and speech. Studies have shown that acute intake of large amounts of alcohol may cause brain swelling, but to date, the risk for beer milers is unclear.
Beer aside, your muscles will start to burn over the course of a fast mile as they break down carbohydrates for fuel, which produces lactic acid. Clearing this by-product impairs muscle contraction, and research shows that acute alcohol consumption can hinder muscle coordination and recovery.
You may want to skip the beer mile entirely and heckle from the sideline instead if you’ve had any of these leading up to the starting gun:
Flu or other serious illness
This impairs your ability to metabolise alcohol.
Even a bad night’s sleep just before race day can hurt your body’s ability to handle alcohol.
More than one drink four to six hours before your mile will tax your liver and brain before the race even starts.
Watch Team RW take on the Beer Mile.