If you’ve tackled a Tough Mudder, you know that a cold beer is a symbol of success. Yep, we’re talking about that totally well-deserved brew that every Mudder gets at the end of probably the toughest event on the planet. But here’s a radical idea: This Tough Mudder off season, when there’s no finish-line freebie to toast your accomplishment, why not ditch the booze completely and give Dry January a try?
What is Dry January (or #DryJanuary), you ask? It’s an annual—and growing—challenge, started in 2011, to consume zero alcohol for the first month of the new year. That’s right: 31 booze-free days.
Turns out, there’s good reason to cut out alcohol for a month: According to a new study from the University of Sussex, which collected data from 800 Dry January participants of 2018, 88% of participants reported saving money, 71% had better sleep patterns, 67% had more energy, and 58% reported losing weight. Not exactly a bad way to kick off a new year, right?
Taking a booze break is even more important for athletes in training, according to Dr. Kristen Bentson of YouAnew Lifestyle Nutrition, who says the best amount of alcohol for athletes looking to optimize their performance is... no alcohol. “There’s just no room in the calorie budget for it,” she says. “It’s devoid of nutrients and it will drag you down.”
Need more convincing before you commit to the Dry January challenge? Here are four additional benefits of going booze-free for Tough Mudders in training:
1. Better Recovery: It’s crucial for your muscles to recover in the best way possible after a training session—and booze can hurt, not help, that process. “Alcohol can dramatically decrease an athlete’s ability to recover properly,” says Tough Mudder Bootcamp Creative Director Eric “ERock” Botsford. “By cutting out drinking, athletes can sleep better and the muscles will recover faster.”
2. Increased Strength, Endurance, and Agility: “Strength gains will increase due to better recovery and a better balance in hormones once you quit drinking,” says ERock. “You’ll notice an increase in agility, too, since alcohol has detrimental effects on the nervous system, which inhibits the coordination of mind and body.”
3. Improved Mental Clarity: We don’t need to tell you that you’re not exactly your sharpest, best self when you’re boozing—or the morning after, when you’re dealing with the mental fog of a hangover. Once you stop drinking, you’ll likely notice a significant increase in mental clarity.
4. Boosted Confidence: Abstaining from alcohol for an entire month can have a greater effect on your mentality and life beyond just your Dry January goal, says ERock. Chances are you’ll feel so good about yourself for sticking to your goals and benefiting physically from participating in Dry January that your confidence will cruise upward. And that I-can-do-anything attitude is an awesome way to kick off the new year.