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Run, drink, repeat

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Talk about the perfect pairing: DRAFT blogger Tim Cigelske proves that craft beer and running are the secrets to keeping fit and loving life.

I can’t stop running and drinking beer.

As I write, I’m on day 406 of drinking at least one beer and running at least one mile every day. Usually, it’s much more than the minimum.

This somewhat obsessive-compulsive streak strikes some as an odd pairing. But if I ever had any question that craft beer and running are better together, this experience has erased any doubt.

Why would someone even attempt this, you ask?

A few days before turning 29, I decided I wanted to do something memorable for the last year in my 20s. I wanted to go really big. I asked others for ideas, and a suggestion from a friend to combine my hobbies struck a chord. It sounded reasonable at the time.

I had no idea what I was getting into. Since starting this streak, I’ve had more than 800 beers and run more than 2,000 miles—most of them not at the same time. Today, a day without running or beer would feel unnatural.

It hasn’t always been easy. I ran through Milwaukee’s worst blizzard in years and another time on a treadmill at 1 a.m. in a New Jersey hotel. I chugged a PBR just before midnight during a busy day of work and travel. I’ve finished the occasional late-night run after a happy hour. You have to be both determined and flexible to keep up this streak.

Thankfully, most days aren’t so adventurous. People often ask me how I can keep this up every single day. I tell them you have to pace yourself, and I wouldn’t be doing it if I ever felt unhealthy. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt better, and it turns out there is some scientific basis for this.

According to the findings of a study entitled “Beer, Marathon, Genetics, Inflammation and the Cardiovascular System,” athletes who drank wheat beer after exercise had stronger immune systems and shorter and fewer colds than those who drank an alcohol-free placebo. Another study,  “Beer, Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Disease,” found that subjects who regularly drank moderate amounts of beer were less likely to suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure and had lower body fat. So to paraphrase a television commercial, beer is a nutritious part of a complete lifestyle.

My own performances reflect these findings. Shortly after I started this streak, I entered a 5K and ran my fastest time since I competed in high school cross-country and track. The night before, I carbo-loaded with New Glarus Wisconsin Cran-bic. Nearly a year of beer and running later, I ran another 5K and set a personal record.

Originally, I was going to try this experiment for exactly one year. As the days passed and I fell into a comfortable routine, I realized I didn’t want to stop. It was too much fun. But I did want to celebrate 365 days at the Great American Beer Fest.

In late September, I flew into Denver and met beer drinkers and runners from around the country. I ran and drank with groups at the Highland Tap and Irish Snug. I sampled from the hundreds of breweries at the world’s largest beer festival. Finally, I topped it off with a 30-mile run for my 30th birthday, joined by fellow beer drinkers and runners.

I completed one year of beer and running with an average of roughly one beer for every three miles. Never does beer taste sweeter than as a reward after a good, hard run.

Along the way, I’ve met countless kindred spirits. This summer I met a man who has been running every single day for longer than I’ve been alive. A friend presented him with a 30-pack of beer to celebrate 30 years of running. His story and those of the other beer and running enthusiasts I’ve met through social media led me to believe that my journey isn’t quite as crazy as it seems.

I’ve learned beer and running complement each other. They both teach you pacing, balance and that you can enjoy what you love every day.

So after I finished my longest run ever, I washed down ibuprofen with a mug of beer. And I decided to keep going. •

Tim Cigelske is DRAFT’s Beer Runner blogger. He lives (and runs, and drinks) in Milwaukee with his wife and daughter.



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