Should You Still Run with a Hangover?
We’ve all been there: alarm sounding, head pounding, and the realization that you’re supposed to pop out of bed for your morning run. What do you do? Hit snooze and try again tomorrow— definitely a valid route. For some, like anyone amid a training plan, that might not be an option. Perhaps you even think that the idea to run with a hangover after a night out is the best way to kick it out, the old “sweat it out” theory. Whatever your reason, you should consider the following before pounding the pavement when your head is throbbing.
Hydration is Key
Drinking in excess and consuming alcohol when you’re already dehydrated pretty much guarantees you an uncomfortable morning— no matter what you perceive your alcohol tolerance to be. There is a range of genetic and physical factors that determine how our bodies metabolize alcohol, so people’s hangovers can significantly vary and there’s no magic number of drinks to stick to ensure a hangover-free morning.
That being said, if you can’t skip your night out, it’s recommended to stick to clear alcohols like vodka or white wine which contain fewer contaminants. Also, try to have a glass of water for every drink you consume. But of course, moderation is the goal here.
If all else fails, and you wake up the next morning with fuzzy memories of shots or your fifth glass of wine, and you still must go for your weekend run there are a few things you should consider before you do so.
No matter what, you’ll be dehydrated from drinking alcohol, your blood sugar will be lower, and you will have a decreased uptake of glucose and amino acids, which drain your body’s energy, not to mention running while dehydrated seriously affect your performance. Make sure you hydrate properly before starting your run. One way to tell if you are hydrated enough is to check that your urine is a light yellow to clear color before you start running. Running dehydrated puts you at risk for muscle pulls and severe cramping. Drinking electrolyte infused liquids can also help, but steer clear of sugary sports drinks and try electrolyte water or dissolvable electrolyte-infused drink tabs.
It’s also a wise idea to fuel up before your run. To revive your body’s energy supply, try something stacked with carbs, potassium, and sodium. Ideal options go along the lines of bananas, oatmeal, and fruit, or whole-grain toast with a layer of peanut butter, giving you a detoxifying kick of B vitamins and protein.
There’s a myth floating around that grease-laden foods are hangover cure-alls. And well, it’s just that– a myth. You would be best to avoid them altogether, but to risk stating the obvious, you’ll want to skip those pre-run, no matter how much you think you need that bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich.
The “Sweat it Out” Theory
Damion Martins, M.D., a sports medicine physician and the Director of Executive Health, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Atlantic Health System in New Jersey, told Runner’s World that you couldn’t “sweat out” a hangover. By trying to do so, he said, “you further dehydrate your body leading to more detrimental effects.”
Dr. Matthew Barnes, author of the Sports Medicine article, “Alcohol: Impact on Sports Performance and Recovery in Male Athletes”, told Outside, “You can’t speed up the removal of alcohol by sweating—that’s a huge misconception.”
He also noted that with a hangover, by definition, there’s no alcohol in your system, thus nothing to sweat out. If there is alcohol in your system, then you’re still under the influence of alcohol, which is a different thing altogether.
Barnes also stated that a runner’s best bet to beat a hangover is hydration rather than running. “Exercise may well alter mood states and have a positive effect that may help overcome the negative effects of drinking—and that’s probably going to be psychological”, Barnes said.
The bottom line is you can’t actually sweat out a hangover, and it might even be detrimental to the whole getting over the hangover process. But if running makes you happy, it might just make you feel better and less hungover.
Martins told Runner’s World, “Alcohol affects your normal physiology, leading to increased levels of creatine kinase and lactate in your blood, which can have detrimental effects on other organs and may cause increased muscle soreness.” As important as your run might seem in the moment, it’s not worth it to run hungover and risk contracting a smattering of injuries. You are not at your best when you run with a hangover, and odds are you’re not going to have the best workout. But if you must run, it’s smartest to stick to a low mileage route and take it easy. Avoid any long haul runs as you’ll only risk dehydrating yourself more and you’ll have a higher chance of injury.
Of course, the best way to avoid running with a hangover is to save your drinks for the night after your run— plus who doesn’t want to celebrate successful miles with a few beverages?
- Should You Run With a Hangover?, print/online publication ,
- Can Running Help Cure Your Hangover?, print/online publication ,
- Should You Run With a Hangover?, website ,
- Alcohol: Impact on Sports Performance and Recovery in Male Athletes, Review article ,
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