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Baa Baa Blog


Alcohol & its effect on sports performance.

Posted on July 30, 2013 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (151)
Here's another blog entry for your consideration in the 'looking for an edge' category, I guess. "Alcohol and its effect on sports performance". I've been doing a moderate amount of research about alcohol and its effects on sports performance, some of this stuff I knew and some is new info to me, especially the effect on muscle and the interaction with ATP.

Still looking for an edge I've been doing some research on alcohol and sports performance. I mean, I already knew that trying to practice or run a race after a night of drinking is not smart and doesn't enhance your performance (not to mention paddling with a hangover is not very much fun). I'm pretty sure we all know drinking before a race is not a good idea.  But, there are other effects I did not know about that overall make me sad (anybody who knows me knows how much I love my Chardonnay).

I'm going to list the deleterious long term affects of alcohol - I'm pretty sure everybody has experience with the short term affects. :) This stuff I didn't know before I started researching. 

1st is the statement from the American College of Sports Medicine that "THERE IS NO BENEFIT FROM ALCOHOL USE FOR SPORTS PERFORMANCE"  Depressing..

1) Alcohol interferes with the quality and duration of sleep. When you don't get good sleep you don't produce as much natural HGH which impairs muscle recovery -- i.e., drinking negates a lot of the workout you struggle through.

2) Alcohol interferes with the bodies ability to produce a substance called ATP (it is how energy is moved into muscles during exercise), which can hurt your ability to perform in both aerobic and especially anaerobic activities (Race paddling is essentially an anaerobic activity - your body can't supply as much oxygen as muscles need during the exercise).

3) Guys - I really didn't need to read this one. Alcohol causes the liver to release a chemical that impairs testosterone production....

4) Alcohol consumption impairs reaction time, hand eye coordination, and mental acuity for up to several days after consumption. Drinking 5 drinks in one night can affect cognitive function for up to THREE days. So even several days after drinking you can have more difficulty keeping sync. It can affect your ability to learn and to recall 'muscle memory', i.e., if you're trying to improve your stoke you have more difficulty retaining the new stoke.

5) and last (mostly because I'm getting depressed) alcohol consumption increases fat storage and enhances production of lactic acid (the stuff that makes your muscles sore, slows muscle recovery, and decreases energy in the muscles). Alcohol would be the reason the guys have trouble getting rid of that last bulge in the stomach regardless of diet and exercise.

Given the above I've decided that I am going to go alcohol free until after the races in September (which should make the after party much more interesting.


Sleep & Athletic Performance

Posted on July 11, 2013 at 10:11 PM Comments comments (5)
Get some sleep. It's important. One of the things we can do as we prepare for New Jersey is take a look at our sleep habits. Not getting enough sleep can have serious effects on our ability to perform, especially in the area of endurance. This is an article that talks about the effects of sleep (or lack thereof) on our athletic ability. "So what does sleep deprivation do to your game?Decreased energy. Sleep deprivation reduces your body's ability to store glycogen -- energy that you need during endurance events. and it gives you the munchies as you try to replace the energy, so you tend to eat more and gain more weight Worse decision making and reflexes. Studies have shown that athletes who don't get enough sleep are worse at making split-second decisions and less accurate. Hormone changes. Not getting enough sleep can increase levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can slow down healing, increase the risk of injuries, and worsen memory. It also lowers levels of growth hormone that helps repair the body." I've known for a long time that sleep deprivation is bad for you, but I didn't know that getting a bit more sleep than normal can improve your performance. "A 2011 study tracked the Stanford University basketball team for several months. Players added an average of almost two hours of sleep a night. The results? Players increased their speed by 5%. Their free throws were 9% more accurate. They had faster reflexes and felt happier." The article suggests ways to get more/better sleep: Get on a regular schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Avoid sleep medication. "Unless a doctor has prescribed it, don't take any sleep medications," says Thornton. Over-the-counter sleep aids are likely to disturb the quality of your sleep and your performance the next day. Relying on natural relaxation techniques before bed – such as deep breathing – is a better approach, he says. Reduce alcohol and caffeine. "Two or three days before a competition, start cutting back on caffeine and alcohol," Geier says. "You want to avoid anything that could disrupt your sleep." that one is something I've already started to do, but more about that in a later post. So, get more sleep - mostly so we won't be as crabby with each other in the boat. :)