Sex before a triathlon? Performance or non-performance? Sex before a sporting deadline diminishes performance: Myth or reality? Does sexual abstinence serve athletes in search of performance?
Sexual abstinence prior to an event is highly recommended by many sports coaches. Nearly 500 years B.C., Plato advised Olympic athletes to abstain during their preparation. In the 20th century, Mohammed Ali shared his six-week abstinence tactic before a fight. Today, we can still hear Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte say the following words. "In a competition period, the intercourse should not last long, you should make as little effort as possible, therefore being placed under your partner... And then do it preferably with your wife, because that way you don't have to perform exceptionally well!". It's a good thing he pronounces them with a little humor...
"Yes to sex before a marathon. But not a sex marathon! "Haile Gebrselassie
What are the origins of the myth and what now allows us to affirm that it is one?
Two ancient phenomena construct our dilemma.
In antiquity, rigour and dedication were characteristic of athletes. This discipline was largely demonstrated by sexual abstinence. Scientists justified as best they could that semen was a source of masculinity and strength that should not be exhausted. In traditional Chinese medicine, the male semen must be stored, as its exhaustion would result in our death.
Tommy Boone and an American student conducted the first scientific study in the 1990s. By comparing the performance of 11 runners, restricted or not, on treadmills, they proved that sexual practice has "no negative effect on physiological responses".
Those who argue the opposite suggest a high energy expenditure that would contribute to fatigue and a drop in testosterone levels (the hormone of sexual desire and aggression). Athletes, according to them, would lose competitiveness and pugnacity during the event. However, there is no evidence today that sexual intercourse draws the energy necessary for performance. On the contrary, other athletes believe that making love before a sporting event is a great way to boost morale. They believe that having sex helps to channel stress and increase self-esteem and thus lay the foundations for better psychological preparation.
The lack of knowledge of coaches and athletes is proven. Are you willing to bet with me that in a short time we will hear coaches recommending sexual practice one day before an event?