A skinful of beer a week before a marathon...

This week's question was emailed by Martin, who's just realised that his first marathon of the year is six days after St George's Day. Which involves loads of beer. Any thoughts?

Advice from coaches and medical types especially welcome...

"How much harm will a skinful of ale a week before a marathon do me? I'm running my first full marathon of the year on Sunday 29 April, six days after St George's Day. St George's Day means a pressing engagement with a succession of public houses, and drinking loads of beer is a really key part of it. I won't be training much in the week before a marathon anyway, and the alcohol should be gone from my system by mid-week, so will my skinful do my marathon prep serious harm?"
- Emailed by Martin Pac


  • Great question and very relevant, as my best mate is coming to stay the weekend before FLM and my liver normally takes a battering whenever I see her :-)

    Will be very interested to read the replies!
  • I would have thought that as long as you have a couple of days afterwards to completely re-hydrate, you'll be ok.

    I've run with mega hangovers in the past, but no more than 8 miles, so I really couldn't say much more.

    I had a skinful last night (only my 2nd since the new year, aren't I good?!) and won't be having another until after the FLM.

    Will be very interested to see the other replies though!
  • 6 days before is fine. If it was 2 days before, that would be different.
  • You might be risking a twisted ankle, or some other hurt, if you're staggering a long way in a drunken state.

    If I were 6 days from the FLM, I'd be cocooned in cotton wool and bubble wrap.
  • In the run up to my first marathon I was a saint but a week before my first ultra in January, was a little different - I got slaughtered on a work trip to Malaga (think one tequila, two tequila, floor and you get the picture) but I think it actually helped my nerves.

    After that night out, I didn't touch another drop until the event was over and I made sure I drank loads of water though.

    Martin - go out and relax but make sure you compensate for it with plenty of water and sleep afterwards.
  • Depends on how you normally react to a heavy session.

    Expereince of last weekend taught me that as I've got older I need more hangover ecovery time - hence being p!$$ed up 12hrs before a long race did not have good effect.

    A week though should be fine I'd have thought - not strictly in the "elite marathon runners preparation plan", but in the real world we have many different priorities...
  • I ran the London Marathon a couple of days after a mega binge and felt pretty bad.

    When I was in my yoof, I ran a mara the morning after a student party the night before and felt fine.

    I'm going Lochaber in 4 weeks, I think I might quit the beer after the London Social next Friday.

  • I think a lot will depend on his age and drinking habits..........

    the older you get, the longer it takes to recover - I tend to be a steady drinker these days than having mega piss ups - the body can't take it any more

    if he's a regular drinker as well, then he will probably recover quicker with less damage to his system as he will be used to training and running and drinking.....I think the less habitual drinkers wouyld suffer more and it would blow them out for a few good days..........

    anyway - why celebrate St Georges Day?? modern day jingoism...........
  • Im a medical type but im not going to give you a responsible answer;)

    a week before should be fine
    you will be in taper anyway
  • Well if I have to walk into a pub in the middle of Yorkshire to find a Leprachaun behind the bar and bl@@dy Clanaad playing on the stereo, and on asking being told "It's St Patricks day" I don't see why we can't celebrate our own Patron Saint (albiet one who was a:North African, and b:Arguably never came to England - rather ironic really considering the English attitude to Johnny Foreigner)

    But to answer the question - unless you intend drinking yourself into oblivion I would have thought you'll be OK. As Hipps says: you'll have done all the hard work by then.
  • I freely admit I just don't "get" binge drinking.

    Is it really obligatory to drink yourself stupid?

    Why not just have a few and enjoy both your night out and your marathon? Your liver will thank you for it :-)

  • fell running
    ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Modern day St. Pat's is a marketing opportunity for Irish breweries.

    Just accept it, then ignore it. works for me!
  • ...The same thing will happen with St. Georges day in the fullness of time.
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    Ironically I'll accept any excuse for celebrating with a drink, but whether it's an Irish or a non-English saint, I'd be drinking Belgian. I worship at the altar of St. Leffe.

    And to answer the question - a whole week to recover? Fill yer boots!
  • a St Patrick's Day piss up is a jolly good way to celebrate my birthday thanks...........

  • Well my Birthday's on St Crispins Day

    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers
    For he today that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother, be he ne'er so vile
    This day shall gentle his condition
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here
    And hold their manhood cheap while any speaks
    That fought with us upon St. Crispin's Day

    (Henry V)

    St Crispins Day is also the anniversery of the Charge Of The Light Brigade - a somewhat less glorious enterprise but no less lionised Into the valley of Death rode the 600

    So as an excuse for a Jingoistic booze up - opportunities don't come much better....
  • what's wrong with Clannad??
  • what's right with Clannad??
  • Given that the long runs are finished 3 weeks or more prior to the big day, it must be tempting to head out on it, a week or two beforehand. I know it is for me!

    I think the answer lies in the fact that with drinking alcohol comes other effects like interrupted sleep patterns, consumption of junk foods, which will affect final conditioning runs, etc, rather than the big day. It’s probably difficult to quantify what effect it could have on your final performance and in all likelihood you’d never know, but if that extra minute or five is important to you and you want to make sure you are at your best on the day, then the advice almost goes unstated.
  • I wouldnt put any weight on it at all if its a couple of days before I doubt it makes any quantifiable difference to all but the elite. Even if you drink yourself into oblivion.

    As I have stated before I have ran a marathon with a pretty bad Hangover (dublin). It added about 30 mins to my planned time that was with a couple of vomit stops. But It was really unpleasant so is best avoided.

    Moderate and you will be fine - the last marathon I did (a few weeks ago) I had my sensible head on and stopped at two pints the night before the race(went for an indian), the curry was a lot better at slowing me than a couple of beers thats for sure.
  • Well, I like the advice so far. Beer it is. And Screamapillar, I don't drink myself silly. I was born silly, I drink myself drunk. And fellrunner answers the "why celebrate St George's Day" question perfectly well. I don't think we celebrate being English often enough. All nationalities have a right to feel proud of who they are, and most have a national day. The English should have one too, and in my calendar we do. Its probably only because neo-nazis like the BNP embarass national pride that it becomes associated with racism in people's minds. That needs to stop, but we may be a little off topic here.

    If anyone wants me, I'll be in the pub.....
  • I'm afraid I still don't understand why celebrating something (no matter what it is) should necessitate getting rat @rsed.

    But good luck for your marathon anyway Martin.
  • It doesn't necessitate it. Its an informed choice. I enjoy getting rat @rsed every so often. Each to their own.
  • Martin has it spot on. Personally I rank Getting really pissed with your friends occasionally as far more important than, say, running.

  • I have decided (with some success) to cut out the boze before my first marathon - which is London. I feel fitter and at my age (45) just dont want to take chances. To be honest I do miss it but when i see the training times going down and i have an outside chance of 4 1/4 hours it will be worth it.

    But ultimately the books all say everything in moderation.
  • WombleWomble ✭✭✭
    The only way you'll affect your marathon is if you have an unfortunate accident whilst pi55ed. Which is exactly what someone I know did a few years back on the Friday before FLM (and she shouldn't have been drinking 2 nights before either).
  • Yes, I was really lucky last Christmas. I decided to have a good blow out at the Works bash, all well and good, FLM a good few months away.

    However, when p***d, it seemed a good idea at the time to jump around the dancefloor to Guns & Roses doing air guitar/bit of headbanging in true Jack Black School of Rock style. This also involved jumping in the air and landing on my knees on countless occasions.

    Luckily I only ended up with black and blue knees with no injuries, goodness only knows how. Just imagine if I'd injured myself and scuppered my marathon chances?!

    Take heed of this story and beware..... ;-)

    Good luck in the race anyway!
Sign In or Register to comment.