Women's Health magazine recently published an article commenting on a University of Miami 2009 study that concluded that the more people exercise, the more they drink. As someone who is pretty dedicated to both fitness and my rum and diets, I can see how the results came to be.
It's evident from my posts here that I enjoy socializing, and often, that involves alcohol. For me, this ranges from happy hour outings to theme parties in my living room, to staying out until last call to cocktails on the porch with my roommate over dinner. However, while the allure of going out has faded in recent years and my nights are much tamer than they were five years ago, I'm not one to turn down a beverage with friends.
I am also very dedicated to being an athlete. I have never missed a workout due to drinking or the effects of drinking, and I don't plan to. Sure, there have been times when a workout hasn't been completely pleasant due to poor decisions the evening before, but I make myself do it. I try to take it easy the night before a long run, but I'm not going to sit in by myself because I have 18 miles scheduled for the morning. I don't ever want to hate running or have it take over my life.
That said, I do take most races seriously. When I was a swimmer in college, we had "48 hour rule" (no drinking 48 hours before a meet), and I still try to abide by that, if not longer. If I'm paying someone to run, I want my finishing time to reflect the effort I put in and not be hampered by the effects of a few drinks the night before.
However, as the authors mentioned in the article, many of us athletes have the "work hard, play hard" mentality. I couldn't agree more with that. As part of marathon training, I ran 15 miles last Saturday morning. I followed that with a night out with my friends. Alcohol does have empty calories that add up pretty quickly, so I'm sure I broke even with that run and my night out. But hey, I deserved it right?
As with everything, there are always outliers in a study and I can relate to that, as I have friends who don't go within 10 yards of a gym and drink heavily five nights a week. I also am friends with devoted athletes who wouldn't dream of putting more than a glass of wine – if that – in their system.
But most of my friends play hard and work hard, like I do. As we all know, exercise and health should be a priority, and we put an effort to log time at the gym. At the same time, I think it's important to schedule time in for socializing. It's easy to let an athletic hobby take over your life, and that's not always healthy either. When I was injured last year for three months, I was a mess because I had unintentionally devoted so much of my identity to being a "runner."
I'm more than that. I'm a person who enjoys a range of hobbies – including running – and including a cocktail when I feel like it.
But when it comes down to it? If I only have time for happy hour or a run, you'll find me seeking solace in my sneakers.
Do you work hard and play hard? How do you find balance with exercise and play?