How to Run Your Best Beer Mile

An assortment of empty cans

A Brief History and 9 Tips to Run Your Best Beer Mile Ever

Running and beer drinking are ubiquitous. So much so, that combining the two, at least in a leisurely, non-competitive fashion (like Hash Running) seems like common sense. But then there’s this other well-known running-plus-beer activity that, for everyone actually participating, is downright terrible.

It involves running as fast you possibly can, chugging beer as fast as you possibly can, and holding back (if you can) uncontrollable puking (if you throw up, you have to run more laps and drink even more beer to make up for it, unless you want to DQ). And yet, people still participate! We’re talking about the beer mile. So, what, why, and where did this absurd pastime even start?

A runner drinks a Budweiser beer during a Beer Mile race

Opening the Can: How the Beer Mile Started

You can probably imagine the scene: a few friends enjoying a post-run beer, shooting the breeze, and laughing about how funny it would be to run four hard laps around a track while chugging beer between each one. That's exactly what happened in Ontario in 1989. The history of the beer mile started with seven guys sitting around drinking beer after their run (the youngest was 17; Ontario’s drinking age is 19), talking about a "fun" idea of combining two things they loved to do.

It wasn’t long after they came up with the beer mile challenge that they were off to a local track, beer in tow. One threw up after the third lap; the others made him run another, and the first beer mile "rule" was born. After that night, the tradition quickly and quietly grew. For many years, the friends held a championship every year (at night and in the shadows to avoid security at a local university’s track).

Today, the concept has all but exploded. Beer miles are held regularly all over the globe. And people get serious. There are two world championships every year, and a leaderboard for the best beer milers in the world. (Side note for the ladies reading: A woman has yet to break the six-minute barrier. The best female time is 6:08, posted by Erin O’Mara of Austin, TX, in 2015.)

Guzzle with the Best: Tips to Run a Faster Beer Mile

Sound like fun? It is (in hindsight probably). So, if you’re game to give the four laps a try (after all Saturday is Beer Day), we’ve got some insider tips to help you run your best beer mile ever:

1- Drink your beer warm.

Any other time this would taste terrible. Well, to be honest, it’ll taste terrible now, too, but you gotta do it because warm beer has less carbonation than cold beer. And the more carbonation your beer has, the harder it will be to get it down and keep it down.

2 - Drink your beer with a 45-degree backward tilt of your head.

Running a fast beer mile involves careful calculation, you know! 45 degrees is the perfect angle for most efficiently gulping down the suds.

3 - Seal your lips around the can when you guzzle.

This is important for faster liquid extraction. Your lip-seal acts like a vacuum to pull the warm liquid into your throat. For a serious beer miler, this is precious time you’ll need in the final lap when your stomach feels sloppy and distended from nearly a liter and a half of bubbly booze.

4 - Avoid DIPAs and other high gravity brews.

OK, this might seem like a no brainer … but you’d be surprised. The official beer mile rules state--in bold--that the beer must be at least 5 percent alcohol by volume. … So, keep it there. If you can stomach it, good ol’ Budweiser is a solid choice.

5 - Train on a full stomach.

Like any race, running the beer mile requires some race-specific training. Consider running fast while holding large amounts of fluid in your belly (note: this is not good advice for general health or well being. Just remember, we’re talking about training for a beer mile here). A race-prep workout to try: Sets of hard 200s or 300s with a 12-ounce water chug between each.

6 - Practice holding your breath.

Think about how you feel after you run as hard as you can for a couple of minutes. You can’t breathe very well when you finish, can you? Now, imagine that as soon as you stop running, while struggling to regain your breath, you also have to open and chug 12 ounces of bubbly liquid. Yep, that’s that you will have to do three times during a beer mile. If you’re not ready, it is going to be terrible. Yes, terrible. So practice running hard reps and then holding your breath for 10 to 15 seconds after each. Take it a step further and visualize the beer emptying smoothly down your gullet as you count. (Elite athletes are known use visualization for race-day success race days.)

7 - Pace yourself.

It’s easy to get carried away that first lap. You may drink your beer too fast and gun it from the start. If you’re not careful, this could set you up for major cramps and race-duration discomfort. Remember to pace yourself. Open and drink your beer smoothly and deliberately, taking care to prevent unwanted shakeup.

8 - Appoint a designated driver for you and your group.

You will finish your fourth lap and, after recovering from intense nausea (if you don’t throw up), you’re likely going to feel at least a little tipsy. If you’re not walking or jogging home, it’s crucial that you have a friend there to drive you and the rest of your sloshed competitors home. Plus, you need at least one sober person there to time the race and tally results.

9 - Have fun.

Come on; it’s ridiculous that you’re doing this in the first place. Who in their right mind would run a hard mile while chugging four beers? Yep, runners are the only group that could even conceive of such a daft idea. Embrace your weirdness, and enjoy it.

** A note: We are in no way advocating participation in binge drinking or other dangerous behaviors. Running fast while drinking beer is not a safe activity. Participate at your own risk. **