The beer mile — in which competitors chug a beer, run a lap around a track, then repeat three more times — has officially gone mainstream. Once the domain of collegiate track teams, who organized beer miles to blow-off post-season steam, the beer mile now draws runners ranging from Olympians to, well, people who simply like to chug beer and participate in inane competitions. Beermile.com, the official online rules and record keeper of the event, contains thousands of verified times.
Last April, when former NCAA champion James Nielsen broke the vaunted five minute beer mile mark (and the YouTube video of him garnered over 1.3 millions views), the competitive running website Flotrack announced it would hold the first ever Beer Mile World Championships in Austin, Texas on December 3rd. That gives you three weeks to cram for the ultimate test of running and guzzling endurance.
In devising a training plan we talked to local beer mile favorite Brant Speed, who also coaches endurance athletes at Austin's Pedal Hard Training Center. Speed, a former Division II runner at the University of Tampa, boasts a 5:58 for the beer mile (though, "that was after 12 to 15 beers already, and I was in my underwear"). He recommends doing each of these three workouts once a week, with cross training or rest on off days, and chugging practice in the comfort of your own home or with a designated driver.
As for race day advice, Speed has is own theory on optimum performance: "I plan on drinking at least a six-pack before the race," he says. "I think you can drink faster when you're already a little tipsy."
The Workout: Run four to five 400 meter repeats (one lap around a running track) at your desired race-day mile pace, with a half lap to a full lap of light jogging or walking in between each lap. For example, if you're aiming to run a six-minute mile (not including the drinking portion of the event), run 90-second 400-meter repeats.
The Pay-off: Speed calls effective pacing the primary component of running a good beer mile. If you only do one workout, make it this one.
The Workout: In ascending order, run 200, 400, and 600 meters at your desired race pace (i.e. for a six minute mile, complete 200 meters in 45-seconds), then do the same distances, again, in descending order (600, 400, 200). As recovery between each interval, walk or jog half the distance of the previous effort.
The Pay-off: This type of "ladder" workout is physically and mentally daunting, but will also help you run strong and guzzle hard on lap four.
The Workout: Complete eight 200-meter repeats at a pace about five seconds faster than your goal mile pace (40 seconds for six minute mile pace). Walk or jog 200-meters between each interval.
The Pay-off: This kind of speed work is your ticket to a personal record. It will also simulate the beer mile's vomit-inducing nausea effect.
When practicing your bottoms-up can slamming, keep in mind these tips:
- Drink room temperature beer. It goes down quicker and easier.
- Official beer mile rules stipulate the beer must register at least five percent alcohol by volume. Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Miller High Life are the three most popular beer mile beers listed on beermile.com.
- World record holder James Nielsen held his head at a 45-degree angle, a chugging technique he adopted after studying esophageal anatomy.
- It takes roughly eight-seconds to turn a can over and pour it onto the ground. By forming a seal and sucking the beer out, Nielsen chugged in five seconds.
- Truly hardcore beer milers use competitive eating techniques to expand their stomach volume. Practice chugging after consuming a hearty pasta dinner.