31 Days Without Beer
I did it! I made it 31 days with no alcohol whatsoever. Before we get into it, let's get something out of the way. Yes, I'm aware that it's February 8, I started Dry January a week late because I was already registered for a beer tasting class on January 6 when I decided to abstain from booze for the month, so my Dry January ran from January 6 to February 6. Yes, that means a sober Super Bowl which was easily the most difficult day of the challenge.
The question I was asked most often throughout the month was why, and I don't really have a great answer. I made the decision on a sort of a whim, mostly just to see if I could do it. Sure I was curious about if I would feel any different or if my running would improve, but I was excited just to make it through the full month.
So what changes did I notice? No, I didn't magically get faster on my runs, and I didn't wake up at the end of the month feeling all that different, but what I did notice almost immediately that my sleep improved drastically which impacted several facets of my day to day life.
I sleep with my Garmin Forerunner on which tracks my heart rate, and within the first few days, I saw my average resting heart rate start to drop off and that trend continued throughout the month. Going into January my resting heart rate had been hovering around 65 bpm and by the end of the month, that number dropped as low as 51 bpm.
Okay, so there was a measurable change in my heart rate but was it actually noticeable? Yes! My sleep was incredible this month. I slept more deeply and was having significantly more vivid dreams almost every night. This translated into waking up feeling more refreshed, and it was easier to get up and moving around in the mornings.
So how did this translate into my running? If you've been following along with my blog, you know that I am in no way a morning runner. I tried a while back, but that only lasted for a week or so. Now that I'm marathon training though, and my weekend long runs are getting into the double digits, I knew that it would be so much easier to get those runs out of the way early.
Although I'm still not waking up at the crack of dawn, I've been able to get myself out of bed and out the door on Saturday mornings with no hesitation, something I would never dream of doing after a late Friday night at the bar. Sure the beer definitely makes for a more sluggish morning, but I also wasn't going out on Fridays which meant I was in bed earlier.
So was it worth it? As I'm training for my first marathon, my biggest concern from the start was sticking with my training plan. Every week I'm running more miles than I ever have before which has required a lot more dedication and commitment on my part to find the time to fit all those runs in.
January was the first month my mileage started to peak and I think aligning that with Dry January was paramount in helping me stay consistent and log every mile, especially Saturday morning long runs.
Looking ahead, I'm not sure if it's something I'll do again in the future, but I'm also not ruling it out. Last night was my first night back to beer and I have to say, it tasted damn good. I'm glad to be back, but I do think that some of what I learned will carry on into the remainder of my training.
First, and most importantly, I'm going to try to avoid alcohol on Friday nights, or at least limit myself to only a drink or two. I'm running 13+ miles virtually every Saturday for the next two months and I know that a late Friday night is a surefire way for me to miss a Saturday morning run.