“I've just read your reply to an OCC question about how drinking coffee affects endurance training. Something I've wondered about is how another drink - booze! - affects performance.
I assume drinking is not beneficial to climbing full-stop, but is it particularly bad to drink soon after a session/on the same day? I often climb on a Friday then go out for a few beers that evening, I'd like to know if that wrecks the physical benefits of the training. Is it worth planning training around evenings when you know you'll be drinking?”
Ah ha, alcohol is definitely a different story! It’s pretty bad for your body in lots of ways, but the main way it will affect your training is by reducing the quality of the recovery and increasing the recovery time. The best way to offset the worst of the effects is to make sure you have a proper athletes meal (high carbohydrate) and plenty of water straight after the climbing. And make sure you avoid the super greasy takeaway after the night out. The combination of a skinful of beer and something as nutritionally evil as a takeaway kebab is what gives so many British climbers a little tyre to weigh them down on the rock.
I can’t believe I’m really writing about this on this site, but for a lot of British climbers, its really holding their ability on the rock down a grade or two.
The funny thing is, just increasing the amount of time between any drinking you do neatly solves the problem, without having to sacrifice the feeling that you can’t relax and have fun when you do go out. The nightly in-the-house beer in front of the telly is the hidden evil here. It raises your tolerance to alcohol a hell of a lot. Meaning that when you do go out, you ‘have’ to drink more, if you know what I mean.
On the other hand, if you only ever drink every other week/month when you do go out, half as much or less alcohol will have the same effect, with the obvious benefits of less weight gain and less detrimental effects on recovery from training. I find that these days every time I drink a pint of beer (once every couple of months?) it feels like the first time I drank alcohol, i.e. one pint and I’m a right mess. I like it that way.