A runner walks into a bar ...

When it comes to pre-race prep, beer may be your best bet.

The best place to prep for a big race may be at the bar. Along with sounding ridiculously manly, drinking beer — the non-alcoholic version — before prolonged, intense exercise has been proven to help keep your body running smoothly. According to a recent study presented at a conference for the American College of Sports Medicine, the first and last word on fitness, Dr. Johannes Sherr and colleagues found that downing a modest amount of non-alcoholic beer can help your body recover more quickly after a marathon.

In conducting the study, Sherr and his team evaluated almost three hundred male runners before and after the Munich Marathon. Some of the subjects consumed about a pint and a half (24 ounces) of non-alcoholic beer (Erdinger Alkoholfrei, to be exact) every day after a run and on their recovery days for three weeks before and two weeks after the race. The others drank an unnamed sports drinks.

When all was said and done, the beer-guzzling runners experienced less inflammation (a common post-race occurrence) and were less likely to develop upper respiratory tract infections (often the result of the temporary dip in immunity marathon runners experience) than the teetotalers.

Why? According to Sherr, the positive effects of the virgin beverage come from its naturally occurring anti-pathogen, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory chemical compounds that help the body recover more efficiently. We're thinking chocolate can’t be far behind.