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On Running

On Sex and Running

The subject of intercourse before a big race (or a little one) is believe it or not – on the Internet! What a surprise.  I have read some pretty revealing revelations about sex – to have it or not, before a race. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the New York Times covered this very topic this week in the Health section.

According to an article in the UK’s Guardian, male runners were told by their coach that sex before a race was not a good idea – that to build up aggression through abstinence will only enhance speed. The article goes on to state that other runners, however, have run a personal best when having sex the night before a race. An 1984 article in Runners’ World discussed the pros and cons of sex before a race. For elite runners, this can make a profound difference in how an athlete will perform.

And to support that theory, the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine reports that the night before a race is no time for experimental sexual activity. So, for example, NO TRAMPOLINES. You don’t want to break a leg or sprain an ankle. And staying up all night, though nice, will make you very tired the next day.

Canada’s Edmonton Journal featured Sandy Jacobson, a world-class marathon runner from Edmonton and a four-time national-team member who still trains daily, who reported that she does not have sex the night before competition so as to build up her inner strength and mental focus.

Jacobson was quoted saying that about a month before important races she prepares using visualization exercizes. The night before a race or run she will “have a bath, eat well, and take plenty of selfish, private time to get spiritually, mentally and physically connected.” As for sex?”Since sex can be more of an emotional experience for women, I choose not to go there,” says Jacobson.

On the blog, Boonthink, the author calls attention to the “objective and sound physiology of sex and athletics.” In a study published in 1995 by the author in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness  about the effects of sex on exercise, the study’s conclusions were:

1.  Sexual intercourse 12 hours prior to a maximal treadmill exercise test had no significant effect on maximal aerobic power, oxygen pulse, and double product.

2.  Given that maximal aerobic power was reproducible from one test with sex vs. one test without sex, the conclusion is that sex before exercise is not harmful.

3.  Also, it is reasonable to conclude that sex prior to a maximal physical effort did not decrease stroke volume (since oxygen pulse was not decreased) or increase myocardial oxygen consumption (since double product was not increased). If anyone can translate that into english, fine, but I think until we know what “stroke volume” is, I won’t touch this with a 10-foot pole.

Not surprisingly, some athletes report that sex the night before solidifies their feelings of happiness.  They are more relaxed after sex just prior to an athletic event.  And the reverse is true – the running helped the sex.

Still thinking about it? According to an article entitled, “Sex and running, the perfect couple,” a very informal survey of 2,000 runners at the Flora London Marathon revealed that the runners who’d had sex the night before the race ran faster than the entrants who’d abstained.

And to address the question of when – runners on the Runners’ World blog had a lot of fun when someone asked if sex before a race was recommended and one person asked, “how close to the gun time are we talking?” 

Good point.



2 thoughts on “On Sex and Running

  1. I saw a show on Discovery channel about this topic, they tested boxer’s performance before and after sex and did not find a significant difference in his performance. The only big difference was a testosterone blood level, which was several times higher after having sex.

    Posted by Aren't We Naughty | December 8, 2010, 8:29 pm
  2. stroke volume is related to how much blood your heart pumps per beat.

    Posted by Adam Morrill | March 12, 2012, 5:27 pm

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