I’ve made a sacrifice to the marathon gods: for the past 11 days I have drunk no alcohol. This could have been a challenge, but luckily I have supportive friends and colleagues who, when we went to the pub on Friday night, spent the whole five hours I was there offering me shots, pints of beer, glasses of wine and generally going “go on, one won’t hurt”. Thanks guys, you rock.
The landlord of the pub did look a little surprised when I refused his free shots, being that I’m usually the one badgering him to line them up.
For most of my marathon training I have conducted a one-woman experiment into the effects of beer, wine and spirits on athletic performance. My findings are that getting drunk on a Friday night and spending the Saturday recovering in time to do a long run on a Sunday morning left very little of the weekend when I wasn’t flopping around my flat feeling the after effects of either drinking or running.
Luckily, for us runners who like a drink, the recovery process for both a 20-mile run and a night out on the rum and cokes is pretty similar: rehydration sachets, fried egg sandwich, chocolate milk and a comfortable sofa. So I’ve kept well stocked on these staples this summer.
What I have concluded though, in all seriousness, is that it’s possible to train for a marathon without giving up your social life. Last year training for Brighton I pulled out all the stops, missed many nights out and generally ate, slept and breathed the marathon. This is what I needed to do at the time and that what I was willing to give it. But this time round things were different, there was no possibility of shutting myself off for four months, so I found some middle ground.
While I don’t expect anyone to follow my example – my last 20 mile run was preceeded by a Friday night which involved drinking Red Stripe and dancing to power ballads until 3am Saturday morning – I am proof that it’s still possible to, in the words of Party Pete “live fast – run fast”. Whether that lifestyle will get me a sub-4 marathon still needs to be seen, but either way I have no regrets.
Three weeks out from the marathon, with my head spinning with the effects of Red Stripe and vauge memories of the night before, I swore myself off alcohol. Is it too little too late? I don’t think so. Alcohol has given me many things over the years, the belief that I can sing in tune and that the world needs to hear that being just one. But it regularly robs me of three things: a good night’s sleep, hydration and the ability to make sensible nutritional choices. A vegetable samosa does not a proper dinner make. With those three things vital in the next 10 days it’s goodbye beer, hello early nights. God, it’s boring.
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