High performance after drinking too much and crappy sleep

After drinking way too much and having crappy sleep I awoke, feeling a bit guilty. A leisurely and somewhat uncomfortable morning turned into early afternoon and I got on my bike for a workout. I wanted to go hard…and wow (!) was the power easy. I freaking drilled it, went faster than I have for the time (20 min) since 2013. I’m not saying I wasn’t pushing hard…but I never felt like I was giving it 100%, I never felt like I had to break pace. Just cranked steady, big watts (for me). (epic KOM reverse FWIW)

Now, I’ve been racing and training for over 30 years, with power since 1998. I don’t make it a habit to go on a bender the night before racing but, hey, it’s happened a few times over the decades. And usually…like mostly…the results, surprisingly, have been “high performance”.

I’ve also done it “right”, good nutrition, no alcohol or anything else, good sleep…and have had a vanishingly small number of performances like I had just last week. Rides where I was strong, in control, pushing hard but never at the redline, putting out really solid watts…yeah I just don’t get that very often after doing it “right”.

Now, this makes absolutely no sense. There is no way that poisoning and dehydrating yourself makes you faster. Yet…well I can’t explain it. I’m just gonna say it. I THINK MAYBE IT DOES!

Can anybody comment on this? Has it happened to anybody else?



Maybe you would have went even faster had you not drank alcohol and gotten more sleep???

I’ve also been riding racing bikes for over 30 years (more like 40 as I did some junior racing). One of my regrets is those types of performances. I remember a time when I was riding my friends off my wheel. It was like I Filippo Ganna for a day. But I never knew why I hit that form for a day or two or how to reproduce it for race day.


I drink and smoke what I consider a controlled amount every night and never have issues performing the day after. One night when we went a little over on Whisky and cigars I did a 120 mile ride at a pretty strong pace the next day.

I don’t drink to the point of being drunk/hung over so I really just consider it carb loading and opening up my airways :smiley:

i can fully attest to this not working 100% of the time. a 48 mile mtb race that ended with 9 miles of cramping and 1 leg pedaling was the result


I would cocnclude this is more mental. You have the fitness but unlocking and accessing that is much harder than it seems. I know when I go out on a ride with no pressure or expectations attached and I clear the angst from me head I end up performing at a high level ( not every time).

Maybe your mind was focused on the fact that you were up late drinking and so you let everything else go but your body was ready.

One night of lost sleep isn’t going to do much to your fitness.

Yeah that’s it, exactly! I want to ride like that all of the time!

I moved to semi retirement (working 1 day per week) 18 months ago. I’m more relaxed and happier than ever. If anything I was a little less happy because I was hung over a bit LOL.

Ha! I sure did!

I totally believe this! How can it “help”? It’s toxic and dehydrating. These are true facts!

Now this might it…I mean, I don’t know why but it makes the most sense.

Maybe I’ll abstain next Sunday night and take on the same challenge Monday after no booze and a good night of sleep and see how it goes. I can replicate the rest of the week in training too (Thur/Fri/Sat/off on Sunday).

Or maybe I’ll blow the lid off again Sunday night LOL!!!


Try eating an equivalent amount of calories the evening before, then spending the morning lying around. Perhaps as we normally never allow ourselves to do this, we never see these standout performances?

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One bad night isn’t necessarily going to have that big an impact… If you’re sleeping well through the week and then have a bad night on Friday night, that doesn’t mean Saturday is going to be a bad day for performance.

Personally - I always find I ride well on a mild hangover, but it’s probably a case of perception vs reality - if I feel bad to begin with I am expecting a bad day, but then it will often pass quite quickly and I feel surprisingly good for the rest of the ride.

I find I always ride well after chippy tea and 3 or 4 pints… You wouldn’t think fish and chips was a good night before meal but I am starting to believe it has almost magical properties. The combo of protein, stacks of carbs, salts, and vinegar seems to work really well for me.

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I don’t drink much, or often, but some of my best race results have also been when heavily hung over. Note that they’re all crits of about an hour - I wouldn’t expect it to apply to longer road races!

I’ve always suspected that its a combination of:

  1. Lowered inhibition / fears - you don’t expect to finish, let alone win - so you have ‘less to lose’.
  2. Managing the hangover discomfort is a distraction from the pain induced by racing.
  3. Fully topped off carbs from all of those beers.

I think “Beers with Chad” should look into this more closely and potentially fund a research paper on the topic. :wink:


Obviously, too many sessions like the OPs would be detrimental but I think sometimes when you go out in a relaxed state not actually expecting much you can do better.

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I had a night of heavy drinking Saturday. Woke up yesterday and felt like poo but made myself go out and figured I’d just ride easy. Smashed a KOM 2 minutes into the ride and then promptly felt like poo (probably from going all in with no warmup) figured my ride would just be endurance then proceeded to take 6 more KOMs during the ride and finished at my usual 20mph. Alcohol is weird

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Had the same experience when I was younger, would head out after a bender and feel very strong. Before I had power meter or GPS but my normal loop would be done faster.

Perhaps it’s the lowered RPE from the residual booze?

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I can tell you I tested this theory Friday night and Saturday morning and the result was very suboptimal lol.


I seem to have really good rides after I eat In n Out (local fast food place in California) for dinner. Starting to think it’s because I’m actually getting enough calories for once.