I’m not a big drinker, or even a regular drinker. I might average two beers a week over a couple of separate occasions.

But on the hot Adelaide Christmas of 2016, the first beer went down really well. The second beer felt as good as the first. By the time I finished the third, I was feeling 18 again – invincible. Beers turned to champagne and champagne to cocktails.

To cut a long story short – I wasn’t as festive the next day.

It got me thinking…substitute “drinking” for “running” and “beers” for “kilometres” and this is a discussion that I repeatedly have with people returning to running (or any sport for that matter) after an injury or even after an off-season. Furthermore, substitute “champagne” for “sprinting” and “cocktails” for “high-intensity interval training” and you can start to draw some parallels with common training errors.

I recall one of the most easily relatable analogies I’ve heard in recent times by Dr Tim Gabbett on load using ‘beer load’ as metaphor – those who have taken a consistent approach to drinking beer (training) in the lead up to Christmas (gameday) were more successful (drank more) and didn‘t suffer a hangover (injury). To take it one more step, those who did have consistent beer consumption but chose to indulge in cocktails ended up injured the next day.

The moral of the story is that to prepare yourself for an activity, you must expose yourself to that activity. That is why we train. But we also must train adequately and specifically. Drinking beers won’t prepare us for a night on the cocktails just like 10km jogs won’t prepare us for a game of Aussie Rules.

Likewise, returning to training after an injury requires a gradual and individual period of rebuilding load. If you’re unsure of your tolerance to training start with lower intensities (light beer) and build logically from there.

In 2017, we embark on a few ventures with sports clubs and try to shift the spotlight of physiotherapy away from chasing injuries and instead have more of an impact in their prevention. Monitoring and altering training loads will be an important part of this so that athletes throughout an entire club are optimally prepared to successfully and safely navigate through a season.


N.B. For what it’s worth, I was actual well hydrated and didn’t over-indulge on the drink this Christmas and didn’t end up hungover. I spent the rainy Boxing Day putting together toys for little Tessia and getting some quality Daddy-Daughter time.