Thursday, September 13, 2012


By now anyone sucked into the beer realm we're all a part of has caught wind of the "beer runner" phenomenon. I interviewed Derek Peterman on this blog last year, and he gave you his informed take on what it means to both drink good, strong beer on a regular basis, as well as to pay penance for it by running great distances, with the net effect being a body and a neural pleasure center that are both strong and well-rewarded. There are other bloggers and writers who make the intersection of beer and running their raison d'etre, and without a doubt there are thousands of us who have formed synergistic connections between the two activities, as one begets the other, and vice-versa.

I wrote at length about this topic once before, but here's where me & beer and me & running stand in late 2012, five years after that post. Maybe you'll recognize yourself in this narrative. I'm totally in for the long haul on both activities. As someone who's officially into middle age, I've resolved to do what I can to prolong my life and keep myself from being a couch-bound slob for as long as I can. Since I'm not especially talented at most athletic pursuits, and too risk-averse to try new ones that sound at least "fun" on paper (I'm thinking rock climbing and surfing in particular), I'm sticking with the one thing that takes advantage of my not half-bad lung capacity. 

I've now completed two half marathons and at least ten 10Ks and other assorted races. Have another half coming up in November, and am not ruling out a marathon at some point before I turn 50 (that's still a ways off). I can't say I dislike it, truly. I mean the results speak for themselves, am I right ladies? Nah, just funnin' ya. When I'm out there running on paths and near the ocean and whatnot, I obviously encounter many serious male runners in far better physical shape than myself, yet at great psychic cost to themselves. You know the type. Instead of a general so-so build with some lean muscle and some blobby portions, these are the sinewy, gaunt, 140-pound male specimens who can run innumerable 6-minute miles over great distances. They punish themselves regularly and willingly, AND yet there's no doubt: these guys aren't drinking beer. 

I chortle to myself as I pass them, wondering how can they live lives so empty and devoid of meaning, so bereft, lost and alienated as our planet hurtles toward its inevitable fiery abyss? I've got the best of both worlds, baby. I make myself run 7 or more miles, you best believe I'm drinking that 22-ounce imperial saison this evening. I totally get why runners who are also beer drinkers are so routinely linking the two. There's probably a little Type-A personality in us; the kinds of folks who'll so aggressively "train" for a race or whatnot, and who'll also seek out new beers to catalog, blog about, oh, and of course drink. Gain is exchanged for pain. Pain is exchanged for gain. It's a beautiful thing.


Derrick Peterman said...

Couldn't have said it any better. Best of luck for your upcoming half-marathon!

Mark said...

I've been thinking about beer and health lately too. For my part, the rise of beer drinking in my life has also lead to a rise in exercise and even an evolving diet. Now, don't get me wrong, I still eat poorly, but there's way more fresh fruit and veggies and way less meat and fried stuff in my diet these days. Beer has remained pretty much constant though (with occasional ebbs and flows, naturally), with some minor decreases over time.

Chris said...

I've always thought of one as currency for the other, but I can't figure out which way the money flows. Do I get to enjoy a beer because I ran? Or do I get to run because a enjoyed a beer?

I spend much more time on my bike than I do running now. Bad knees in my mid-30s makes running more than 4 or 5 miles very uncomfortable. Besides, there are a lot of very cool beer-related bike jerseys to collect.

Jay H. said...

Yeah, Chris, I've seen those – Lucky Labrador, Sierra Nevada and whatnot. I might take up biking someday, and thankfully I don't have the knee issues you're having. So far I've found ways to deal with the two running injuries I've had – the common ones: IT band and plantar faciitis – and somehow am able to pound it out every week at age 44. Definitely the beer's the reward for running, and running's the punishment for beer. One is definitely more fun than the other.

Sean said...

Count me in among those who made the shift from running to biking. Biking puts much less stress on my knees and ankles, plus I just enjoy it much more. When I ran, it was strictly a chore. I will jump on my bike for a fun ride in the afternoon, after doing a training ride in the morning. I can't say I ever went for a run just for shits and giggles.

I am not a 'serious' biker as I only have a mountain bike which I ride both on trails and on the road, which is quite the faux pas among the more cultish cyclists. I also don't have any cycling clothes, preferring generic shorts and t-shirts as opposed to the skin tight biking shorts (I am not in awful shape, but it takes a special body type to pull that look off) and the aforementioned cycling jerseys.

I spend a solid 10 to 15 hours riding per week (sometimes quite a bit more) which is far more than ever would spend running, and while running probably provides a more complete and more intense workout, it is not exercise if you don't do it.