at the races “If You’re Not in Shape, It’s Really Hard” The Beer Mile Racing...

“If You’re Not in Shape, It’s Really Hard” The Beer Mile Racing Guide


The Beer Mile has taken on mythological proportions. I’d love to know the percentage of our readers who’ve tried it, or those who intend to, and I couldn’t be more excited about hosting our Beer Mile this weekend in Toronto with Athletic Brewing.

A non-alcohol Beer Mile feels like a safe entry point and I really don’t want to run laps til I puke. That said, I also want to win. 

Seanna Robinson is a Beer Mile icon. In the old days, prior to 1997, women used to drink one less beer than the guys during the Beer Mile: three instead of four. Robinson said no way. She thought that four beers sounded like more fun. She went on to set a Beer Mile world record that lasted for nearly 20 years. A marathon runner and run coach, she actually helped train me when I first started running back in 2008, and she’s part of the fabulous team at Culture Athletics putting on their own Beer Mile at the end of the month.

As you may have gathered by now, Seanna is really, really cool. So, let’s say you want to plan your own Beer Mile. Or: let’s say you want to come to the one Seanna’s team is putting on. What’s up with the Beer Mile, anyways? I put Seanna through the ringer, trying to get a leg up on how to chug four beers, and win.

iRun: What do most runners get wrong about the Beer Mile?  

Seanna: They think it’s fun. If you’re going for it, it is a very uncomfortable event. In fact, it probably always is—I’ve just never not raced it.

iRun: How in the heck did you first get involved and when did you know you were great? 

Seanna: It was a bit of a tradition at our university—in fact, the team a couple of years ahead of me had come up with the “Kingston Rules.” So we all just did it. I think I just wanted to be the fastest woman and there were some very good female Beer Milers on our team, so my entry into it was already a high bar!

iRun: What was a common mistake you had to overcome to unleash your best performance? 

Seanna: I think you have to be in good track shape. I would wear spikes on the track. If you’re not in shape, it’s pretty hard. Think about doing a 4 x 400 m workout all out with 30 (ish) seconds rest. So not taking the running part seriously can set you back.

iRun: What tip would you give someone attempting their first Beer Mile? 

Seanna: Make that first beer go down smoothly. At least you’ll have that. Don’t drink beer for a while leading into it, but think about it and make yourself crave it. Also show up a bit thirsty. The desire might still be there for the second beer.

iRun: How do you pace yourself through the four laps? 

Seanna: There’s not much pacing. For me it’s just an all-out effort. You will be limited by factors outside of your control (beer not going down smoothly, gassy tummy, …) so don’t introduce any planned in slow downs!

iRun: What’s the trickiest part—keeping your balance, holding down the beer, handling the track’s corners? 

Seanna: The third beer is pretty tough. It just starts to taste gross and you still have another to go. And then being able to burp to release carbonation over the first 50m or so. Hard to run fast with that much gas!

iRun: You don’t run the Beer Mile these days as often. Why not? 

Seanna: Cause it’s so hard! Also I don’t drink as much beer these days. That was not my limiter in my 20’s but would definitely be now.

iRun: Can you tell us about what you’re currently involved in? 

Seanna: I coach multiple groups and individuals. I also write. And I’m a mom of two teenagers! And I remain competitive with various athletic things. I like to mix it up. I did an Ironman two summers ago and this last summer competed in 1500’s on the track. 

iRun: Why is running so important to you? 

Seanna: It’s always meant so much to me, both in terms of the community and friendships I’ve build and in my personal growth and self discovery. Running contributes endlessly to both of those areas—it doesn’t matter how fast you go.

iRun: For iRun, we’re doing the Beer Mile with Athletic Brewing, so the beer is non-alcoholic. Have you ever done a Beer Mile with non-alcoholic suds? 

Seanna: No, but maybe that’s how I could get back into it! Haha. I do like that idea.

iRun: How do you think that changes things? I suppose you can run it faster, when you’re less drunk? 

Seanna: Mmmm…. Maybe. You don’t really feel the buzz until the end if you’re going fast enough. Back in the day, doing it with alcohol was a way to kick off partying all night. Now, if you don’t want 4 beers in your system, the NA way might be the way to go. 

iRun: Does the Beer Mile with alcoholic beer get you drunk? 

Seanna: Yes. With the added buzz of endorphins and dopamine. I remember it being a high that lasted a long time—you didn’t want or need another drink all night in order to keep it going. (NOT endorsing pounding beers!!!!)

iRun: What do you generally do afterwards? 

Seanna: I used to go out and party. You can’t go straight to bed after a Beer Mile! 

For more information on Athletic Brewing to host your own non-alcohol Beer Mile, click here. For Seanna’s version, for charity, at the end of August in Toronto, click here.