Going dry.

Pretty much everyone knows that drinking water is good for you. It’s especially important for athletes, however you might define that. Leading up to a race (well, anytime, really), one of the most important things you can do to ensure a good run is to properly hydrate. Drinking adequate water flushes toxins out of your system; it helps you to digest and eliminate the fibrous, carby foods you are eating; and it readies your muscles for the stress you’re about to put on them.

I found “adequate water intake” to be 4-6 oz for every 20 minutes of your run, or 12-18 oz per hour. Any run over 90 minutes should also include rehydrating with a sports drink with electrolytes, such as Gatorade. Hydrating before and after the run is just as important as during.

It’s a well-known fact that alcohol dehydrates you. For this reason, many competitors choose to cut alcohol for a period of time leading up to the race. Most people I know cut it out for the two weeks prior to the race, which might sound excessive, but I think there is also something to be said for how this mentally readies you. Running a race – especially a distance race like a full or half marathon – is incredibly taxing on your body and your mind, and I don’t believe it’s something to take lightly.

So, my marathon is 2.5 weeks away. Two weeks from Sunday, I’ll be lining up in Eugene, edging myself as close as possible to the 3:40 pacer and trying not to pee in my pants as I wait nervously for the gun to go off. (My stomach is turning over just thinking about it.) Now is the time when I double down mentally to get myself ready for this endeavor. I’ll start being vigilant about my sleep, making the most of my workouts as we taper, and watching carefully what I put in my body – including alcohol.

My going dry, though, won’t stop on May 1st. I’m taking the plunge of cutting out alcohol as completely as possible. This is probably a decision I should have made a long time ago. You see, I’ve had my fair share of less than pleasant experiences with alcohol excess. Most of the time, I have a drink or two and continue to be happy Colleen, acting a bit goofy and just generally loosened up. Every once in a while, though, I forget that I have a line that really shouldn’t be crossed. I keep taking sip after sip of wine or beer, and I turn into the polar opposite of myself – mean, overemotional, incomprehensible and pathetic. I’m generally pretty good at keeping my anxieties, fears and insecurities to a minimum, at least that’s detectable to others, but when I get to this state, it’s like everything I bottle up comes spewing (literally) out, and it can be pretty alarming to watch.

These moments, though they’re rare (every four to six months or so for the past few years), have an enormous impact on my life and especially on my relationships. I don’t like the person I become when they occur, and people around me – those who care about me – like them even less. That’s an understatement. When they happen, I’m far past the point of controlling myself or even being able to remember the next morning what I did. That’s pretty scary.

I unfortunately had one of these episodes a few days ago. I’m not saying I won’t ever drink again, but I can’t tempt the possibility of this type of thing happening again. I’m growing up. I’m about to go to graduate school. I have a lot more to sacrifice than I have in the past. For now, I’m sticking with not ordering a drink for myself and if someone else has something incredible, having a sip just to taste. There might be times when I know I’ll only have one and can actually hold myself to that, but those occasions will be limited.

I see this as a major step forward in my life as well. This is taking responsibility for my actions, and acting like the adult that at least my driver’s license says I am. I can only hope that this will pay dividends for my graduate study, my running, and my relationships – current and future. I know that doing this will make a lot of things different in my life. I’ll probably get a lot of questions about why I’m abstaining, and it will be uncomfortable for me to answer.

But as I’ve been realizing a lot lately, growing up is uncomfortable. Life is fraught with hard conversations, and taking hard stances for your well-being as well. Doing so makes you stronger, and when you do something hard, you usually gain something great as well. At the moment, I can’t think of anything better than preserving (and hopefully strengthening) my relationships. I suppose running a Boston qualifying time would feel pretty sweet too.

Here’s hoping.


One Response

  1. […] Then, we headed out for Jacob’s farewell celebration with his friends. We met up with about ten of his friends downtown at the Thirsty Lion – an English style pub with a decent beer selection and a live band. Drinks and good times ensued, with me as DD per my new drinking rules. […]

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