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Avoid beer and running paralysis

CATEGORIES: Beer Editor   Beer Runner  

I found myself in front of the beer cooler today utterly unable to make a decision. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar position.

Where to start? /Flickr photo by vj_pdx

Do you go for the limited seasonal? Or your best guess of what will pair with dinner?

Do you get the six pack that’s on sale? Or a 12 pack to have something on hand at least part of the week?

Do you go for something you’ve heard of before from a tiny microbrew across the country? Or do you pick up craft beer from your state and support local business?

Then your eye wanders over to the bombers and you wonder if you should be adventurous with a double IPA or imperial stout or some crazy combination of high ABV brews? Or should you get a session beer and enjoy it all night?

Do you want the tried and true and familiar? Or do you risk it on a style or brewery you’re unfamiliar with or not quite sold on?

These are just a few of the questions that go through your head. Then you walk around looking at label after label and don’t know what to do.

The explosion in craft beer choices are only a good thing if you can actually make a decision. The same is with any type of exercise regime. I won’t even go into detail about the number of gyms, training programs, teams, charity races, adventure races, marathons, ultra marathons, etc. available today.

Sometimes you don’t know where to start, so you don’t. It doesn’t have to be this way.

For me, it boils down to having a few guiding principles to make the universe of choices manageable. Everyone’s system will be different, but following a few rules you set up will make things easier. Here are a few that work for me.

Weekdays are for the familiar
Most of the time the beer I choose and the route I run are so familiar that I don’t have to spend too much time mulling them over. Not always, but often I’ll go out on my 5-mile loop or pick up my favorite tried and true state beer without a second thought. I’m busy enough that I don’t want to spend too much mental energy on devising another plan.

Weekends are for exploring
With a little extra time, on weekends I’ll explore some different types of beer or head out on a new running path – or starting running not knowing where or how long I’m going to go. It usually ends up being fun, and if it doesn’t quite go according to plan, at least I know my tried and true routine will be back on Monday.

Have a few long-term guiding goals
It could be a race on the calendar or the determination to go to a tasting or get familiar with a certain type of season craft beer you’re not familiar with. There’s nothing like stating your intentions to get you motivated and get you doing something. Currently, mine are to run and have at least one beer every day. Recently, I decided I want to try at least 500 different beers and track them on Untappd.

Just make a damn decision
It’s easy to overthink and overstate the gravity of our day to day decisions. So don’t. Just act. Then learn from your mistakes and successes and make your next decisions accordingly. It’s that simple.

So this Sunday, I took a new route to run to the store, roamed the aisles looking at seemingly endless styles of beer, found a bomber of Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot to pair with burgers and just made a damn decision to get a style I’ve only had once before from a brewery I respect. The system works.

How does yours?


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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  • Fawn (milanorunner) says:

    I never knew it could be so complicated. Now I will enter the beer aisle more informed and with greater respect.thank you.

  • Jaime says:

    Reminds me of the time I walked in a Quebec City liquor store. I had 2 days, and there were about 100 beers there I’d never seen before (and might never see again). I wanted to cry.

  • Stein says:

    Tim, this is a major issue. Glad you’ve posted something so that more people understand what keeps great minds stuttering in the beer isle.

  • toplessBcnFryer says:

    If you run to the beer store how do you get the beer home?

  • The Beer Runner says:

    If I have the baby stroller, I can get a six pack and throw it in the bottom of the stroller. If not, I just get a single beer at a time.

  • Rob says:

    I’d like to think this happens to me only while I am in a beer store in a different state, but the truth is it happens at my local spot too. Sometimes its a relief to have only a few solid craft choices. Thanks for your insight, although I’m still not sure I can prevent it.

  • jaron says:

    when i buy beer i go when i know i have a lot of time to mull over. i buy a lot of things so i always have something new to try whenever i’m feeling like something new. am 90 away from 500 on untappd, its a great goal

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