Awhile back, Tim Cigelske vowed to do both.
For a year.
On his 29th birthday, he decided he was going to pound at least a pint and pound the pavement for a least a mile for 365 straight days. It was a bold endeavor, but not a bad use of 52 weeks. Cigelske figured he would run and drink for 12 months, then call off the streak when he turned 30. A solid, if a little nutty, plan.
That was 500 days ago. Cigelske has no intention of stopping.
“I don’t want to sound cocky, but it kind of feels effortless right now,” he said when Guyism.com reached him by phone. Cigelske was (where else?) in the middle of a seven-mile run.
“I can’t really imagine a day where I don’t go running. It’s just part of my life right now.”
He chronicles his prodigious distance on The Daily Mile (more than 250 miles in the first six weeks of 2012) and tallies his beer consumption on Untappd, where he is about 75 unique beers away from scoring the elusive “Legendary Badge.” (Cigelske averages roughly one beer for every three miles.)
But the 2004 Marquette graduate and social media guru is not only in this for himself. He converses with people on the two social networks and Twitter. One of his Twitter followers suggested the mile and beer a day plan all those months ago. Additionally, he writes Draft Magazine’s Beer Runner blog, where he faithfully tracks the exploits of the beer running world. (I edited DRAFTmag.com where the Beer Runner is hosted between 2008 and 2010.)
Beer running has a storied history, dating back to at least 1938 when a group of British officers in Kuala Lumpur gathered every Monday to sweat out the excesses of the weekend. Soon after, the motley crew named themselves “Hash House Harriers,” and the “drinking club with a running problem” was born. They continue to host events throughout the world, which feature, well, running and beer. The biggest is the biannual “Interhash,” held in 2012 in Java, Indonesia.
Beer running may be good for the body, in moderation, of course. Some studies argue that drinking beer is not only healthy, it’s actually beneficial. Runner’s World recently ran (ha!) a story detailing the benefits of a post-race pint.
And then, there is the (in)famous “Beer Mile,” in which people run four quarter mile laps, pausing between each one to slam a brew. The highest form of chugging and running as art may be Exercising While Intoxicated’s stunningly funny tale of a “Beer-Every Mile SF Half-Marathon.” A sample paragraph: “The first four miles are fantastic and my pace is quite good. Beer is great for running, the exercise combined with alcohol gives you a crazy fun euphoria. You tend to really blast the iPod the drunker you get, or at least I do. You’re sweating a lot of the alcohol out, so you’re not getting too weighed down by it. Yet.”
But for Cigelske and other true beer runners, the goal is not puking or intoxication; it’s simply to commit to running and enjoying a brew or two. Sometimes those two come in succession—there are few things better than a cold Lakefront IPA after a slow mile or a hard 10-miler—but the pair can be separate, too. Cigelske often dons his Nikes and jogs to work or splits out during his lunch hour so he can spend time with his wife Jess and young daughter Clara when he returns from the office. (Jess, Cigelske says, understands his obsession: “She’s pretty supportive, but she knows that I get cranky if it gets late in the day on the weekends and I haven’t gotten my run in.”)
Five hundred days, more than 4,000 miles, and almost 1,000 pints later, Cigelske — who is a marathon and half marathon running coach for the American Cancer Society — is not giving up his daily routine. Instead, he thinks everyone should run every 24 hours. He suggests it to anyone who asks (and, presumably, a few who did not). One person he knows lost 21 pounds during a 131-day run streak.
“The big thing I tell people is that it has made it easier to run,” he says. “It takes out the thought process and the whole wasted energy of ‘should I run today or not?’”
The real question, of course, then becomes: “What beer should I drink today?”
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