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What craft beer can teach runners about injury prevention

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As of this weekend, I’ll have been running and drinking beer every day for 8 months.

Flickr photo by Anders Adermark

In that time I’ve run more than 1,000 miles and finished more than 360 beers. I’ve also yet to be sidelined by an injury.

Recently I was asked if runstreaking is really a good idea and how I’ve stayed healthy during the last 242 days.

I’ve had my share of war wounds in my 15 years of regular running, ranging from knee surgery following a basketball accident to severely sprained ankles. I’ve missed most of a cross country season due to a hip injury and expect aches every winter when cold weather sets in.

But I’ve never felt faster, healthier and better than right now.  I’m no doctor, but here are the mental and physical keys in my experience with both beer and running to keep going strong.

Build

I didn’t jump right into this runstreak with 100 mile weeks. Far from it. I gradually built up my workload, to the point that last month was my highest running mileage month on DailyMile, with 156 miles. It’s the same way you didn’t start downing Hopslam and imperial stouts when you started exploring craft beer, did you? Just as you likely had a gateway craft beer, you need to ease into the rigors of runstreaking with gradually more intense training. I ran for about a decade and a half before I started mine.

Diversify

Yeah, I’ve been running nonstop for the better part of a year, which seems like the farthest thing from varying your routine. But I constantly switch it up with intense track intervals, leisurely jaunts, fun trail runs, long slow distance, bike and run commuting, 1-2 mile “rest” days, training group runs with Team Challenge, and in a few weeks even a scavenger hunt race. This works different types of muscles and aerobic capacities, but even more important keeps me from getting bored and/or burned out. Just like the craft beer drinker’s palette is always looking for a new twist on the familiar, the athletes body wants to constantly be challenged by something novel.

Relax

Inevitably, your body is going to have some aches, pains and bad days during any training program – whether you work out every day or not. It will probably have some problems even — or especially — if you don’t push yourself at all. At some point, you have to learn to accept these imperfections and move on. I’m  definitely not advocating running through serious injuries and ignoring acute pain. I’ve certainly had twinges that give me pause and make me question – even for a split second – if I’m doing the right thing. But often your mind makes problems out to be worse than they really are. Sometimes you just have to relax, have a beer, and move forward.

So… that’s not to say that runstreaking isn’t without risk. You could follow my above advice – or not – and still get injured. Or walk across the street tomorrow and get hit by a car. Let’s hope neither happens.

If for some reason this streak goes down in flames – and it could at any moment – I’ll be happy knowing I gave it my all and already found something in myself I didn’t know existed. It’s worth it. And you won’t find me crying in my beer.

 

Author
Tim Cigelske is DRAFT's Beer Runner. (Beer Run•ner [noun]: Someone equally devoted to fine beer appreciation and an active, healthy lifestyle. Ex. "John downed four microbrews at the triathlon finish line. He's a total beer runner.”) Follow Tim on Twitter @TheBeerRunner, and email him at beerrunner [at] draftmag.com.

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4 Comments

  • Graham www.truecanadianbeers.ca says:

    So I’m in the middle of biking across Canada visiting microbreweries as I go along. I’m about 2 months in and am now biking on a minimum 100 miles a day. I have to say this article captures what I think on a daily basis. Great article Tim, keep running man thats a hell of an accomplishment!

  • Doug says:

    I am a triathlete (ok maybe I am using that term a bit loosely) and a craft beer lover. It’s a great recovery drink and helps get carbs and calories in for the next days workout. And i think there is something magical in the hops. over 100 IBUs seems to help even more :)

  • Tiff @ http://lovesweatandbeers.wordpress.com says:

    Wow! That’s a lot of miles. Keep on keepin on. Cheers!

  • Dawn says:

    “Sometimes you just have to relax, have a beer, and move forward” – words to live by. Well said, Tim!

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