The Fort Lauderdale Hash House Harriers dub themselves "a drinking club with a running problem." It started in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur after British expats would run every Monday night together. Now there are hundreds of outposts all around the world.
They drink, they run, they drink, then run, and then drink/run some more. The idea boggled my mind. And when I joined them on their run past the Fort Lauderdale Airport this summer there were TSA costumes, "blue-ball" jello shots, plenty of beer, and even handcuffs involved.
I went home even more confused than when I arrived, but according to The New York Times, they were on to something: beer and running do mix.
Dr. Manuel J. Castillo, a professor of medical physiology at the University of Granada School of Medicine in Spain, conducted a study to the effects of beer and running. After having 16 active men run on a treadmill and then down either water or a beer, he found that "a moderate amount of beer after exercise didn't adversely affect these young athletes' recovery."
The studies do not suggest that drinking beer after a run is better than water, they're just saying it isn't going to deplete your liver or make you foam at the mouth or anything.
Researchers suspect it might have something to do with the polyphenols in beer and not necessarily the alcohol. In another study marathon runners were given non-alcoholic beer or a placebo. It was found that those that drank the non-alcoholic beer "suffered less respiratory ailments and inflammation."
(Of course, when I went on my run with the Hash House Harriers, nobody was drinking non-alcoholic beer.)
If you're going to drink a beer, a study conducted in Queensland, Australia suggests a light beer and a salty snack to be best to aid recovery.
I forwarded The New York Times article to a man who goes by the name of Virgin Dick. He's the Fort Lauderdale hash's' "hare raiser" -- a community organizer of sorts.
"I enjoyed the article, and do think that salty snacks and beer before running isn't a bad way to go," Virgin Dick says.
"Thinking back, the couple of times I've had a beer before a Marathon, I've had pretty decent times, though I'm no expert. I've run quite a few marathons and half-marathons, usually without beer and also had a few good times running on caffeine (coffee)."
If you want to try the beer-run-beer concoction for yourself, there are hashes in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach every week. For your first run, you'll be called a virgin. Expect harmless sexual innuendo and plenty of beer.