A few months ago, a few friends and I signed up for a 10km run. Yesterday – also known as five days before race day – one of my pals suggested having an alcohol-free week in preparation for the looming adventure. At that very moment (somewhat ironically) I was drinking an unforgettable wine that I had patiently waited two years for – a delicious chardonnay not only from some of the finest soils in Burgundy but also from an exceptional vintage (Domaine du Chateau de Meursault 1er Cru 2010). When my aforementioned friend became aware of my hedonism, her exact words were: Shakira, what on earth are you doing drinking the week of a race?
My answer was simple: umm, don’t you know wine is good for runners?
I wasn’t lying. It actually is.
There are two ways of feasibly combining running and wine. The first is to literally drink wine while running. Yes, I mean trading in your Evian for merlot. If this sounds appealing to you, or if you have already finessed your ‘winexercise’ skills, you will find your haven at Le Marathon du Médoc – a 26-mile experience where hydration stations eschew water and Lucozade in favour of wine and cheese. The event takes place in Bordeaux (of course) every September – in fact this year’s event is this weekend.
If you feel queasy at the thought of running a full marathon in fancy dress while chugging an ostensibly endless supply of cabernet sauvignon and brie, you are not alone.
I subscribe to a more judicious approach to wine and running: it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy a glass of wine after (or the night before) a run. Nay, it isn’t just acceptable, it’s beneficial. Why?
Firstly, a glass of wine has an abundance of health benefits (I said a glass, not a whole bottle). A study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology concluded that people who drink wine five days a week and exercise regularly should see an improvement in cholesterol levels. The lead researcher, Professor. Milos Taborsky, claims that “the combination of moderate wine drinking plus regular exercise improves markers of atherosclerosis, suggesting that this combination is protective against cardiovascular disease”. If that isn’t enough evidence for you, here’s some more: wine (particularly red wine) is a rich source of antioxidants and resveratrol. These little guys are your friends: they can help control blood sugar, keep blood vessels flexible thus reducing the risk of clotting, help you fight a cold, boost your brain power, blah blah, are you convinced yet?
Secondly (one for the ladies) it has been proven that enjoying moderate amounts of wine in the run up to an athletic event such as a race can actually enhance performance. A survey sponsored by Runner’s World concluded that females that run regularly could actually run 22% further after a night of moderate drinking – but unfortunately the booze had the opposite effect on men! On a personal level, I was advised to have a glass of wine the night before I ran my first marathon in April this year. At the time it seemed extremely counter-intuitive and possibly a bit dangerous, but it definitely took the edge off and calmed my jittery nerves the night before the most intense physical challenge I have ever put myself through.
I’m not medically qualified (have to throw in a self-protecting disclaimer), but I think I have uncovered the secret to a long and happy life. It surely comprises of running regularly, drinking plenty of water during runs, and enjoying a big glass of vino afterwards (chosen using Grapeful of course).
After the London marathon in April, I enjoyed a glass of pinot grigio rosé at my favourite pub (The Marylebone) alongside a burger (from Patty & Bun). At the time I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more. In fact, I still can’t.
What’s Grapeful all about? I like to call it “a sommelier in your pocket”. It’s an app that helps you pair food with wine, view restaurant wine lists, impress a date with geeky facts about wine, and much more. It is currently available for iOS and Android devices. This video explains it all.