Tuesday, 14 June 2011


There are six weeks and five days to go before the San Francisco Marathon, which means in five days’ time I start my traditional month and a half of being completely teetotal pre-marathon.  After my brother's stag do this weekend just gone, this seems like a better idea than usual...

Not everyone does this before a marathon, and it’s by no means essential; but it’s become part of my routine and I dearly love the physical and other benefits that sustained sobriety brings. For one, I am guaranteed to never struggle through a session due to a hangover, dehydration or overwhelming post-booze lethargy. I am always available to train. My head is clearer – not just because I avoid being drunk or hungover, but generally clearer than it is when there’s even a little alcohol in my system. 

There are downsides, for sure. I don’t drink a great deal, but it’s not until you give up completely that you realise quite how much alcohol punctuates your life. This was much more obvious when I was a student: very little happens in St Andrews that isn’t in some way pivoted on a couple of drinks, essay writing most definitely included, and as such life without alcohol became a little less amusing. Here in my slightly more grown-up and responsible lifestyle, the same is sort-of true. Your odd glass of wine of an evening, cheeky pint with your mates or a rare binge like the aformentioned stag do are suddenly deleted from your social repetoire. It can be a slightly depressing time.

Put it down, Dave!
But there's a great way to compensate. As soon as I've made the commitment to abstinence, I know the race is looming and I'd better do some serious running. The miles stack up and the endorphin high is more or less continuously topped up. More than that, as soon as I make a firm pledge that if I'm going to forgo a delicious frosty beer of a Saturday afternoon or a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio with my dinner, then I'm definitely going to make the most of it and put in some top class training. But above all, it makes that first cold beer after the race taste even better...

Though all that said, there's five days to go before I lock the liquor cabinet. Pass the corkscrew!

Happy drinking


2011 to date - miles: 591.98, parkruns: 6, races: 3, miles biked: 47.44, metres swum: 925

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