Should I Run With a Hangover?

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Question: Should I Run With a Hangover?

"I usually do my long runs on Saturday mornings with my team. But I like to go out on Friday nights and have a few drinks. Is it OK to run with a hangover?"

Running with a Hangover - The Cons

I wouldn't recommend running with a hangover. The main reason why drinking alcohol doesn't mix with running is because alcohol has a dehydrating effect. When you're feeling hungover, you're actually very dehydrated.

The headache is due to your brain being dehydrated.

So if you have a pretty bad hangover at the start of your run, you're already starting your run dehydrated, which is never a good thing. You might be able to get through a short run with a hangover (it still won't feel great), but it's dangerous to try to push through a long training run with a hangover because you could end up severely dehydrated.

You're also probably going to feel uncoordinated and clumsy when you have a hangover, which increases your risk for falling while running.

The bottom line: Try to save the alcoholic beverages for the night after your run. If you really want to have one alcoholic drink the night before a long run, make sure you're drinking plenty of water, too. And keep your run short and easy.

Running with a Hangover - Is It a Cure?

You will find articles that tout going for a run as a cure for a hangover. Some people reason that exercise will get your body working to clear out the ill effects of the alcohol.

However, they also give the caveats that you need to rehydrate well and have a light breakfast before you attempt exercise with a hangover. 

Check your urine color and don't go for a hangover run until you are urinating clear or light yellow urine. If you aren't peeing at all or your urine is dark yellow, you are too dehydrated for exercise.

Drink up with non-alcoholic beverages such as water, fruit juice, or sports drink to get your body back in balance before you go for a hangover run. Don't do the "hair of the dog" trick if you are going to go for a run, that will result in delaying rehydration.

A check for research studies on running with a hangover found a small study of 12 women who were tested on treadmills after drinking different amounts of beer the night before. The number of beers were zero, two, four or six bottles. Interestingly, the beer did not affect their treadmill performance the next morning. It did, however, affect their decision making ability.

Bottom line here is that a hangover run might not be a bad idea, provided you have rehydrated. But you probably aren't the right person to make that decision. You probably shouldn't go for a solo run if you are hungover. Take along a sober buddy who can ensure you don't become a pedestrian traffic safety death statistic.

Drinking After a Run?

The American College of Sports Medicine notes that alcohol can increase your urine output and if you drink alcohol after exercise you may not rehydrate as well.

They recommend keeping any alcohol after a race at a moderate level at most.

Sources:

Michael N. Sawka, FACSM; Louise M. Burke, FACSM; E. Randy Eichner, FACSM; Ronald J. Maughan, FACSM; Scott J. Montain, FACSM; Nina S. Stachenfeld, FACSM. "Position Stand: Exercise and Fluid Replacement" March 02, 2010

Kruisselbrink LD, Martin KL, Megeney M, Fowles JR, Murphy RJ. Physical and psychomotor functioning of females the morning after consuming low to moderate quantities of beer. J Stud Alcohol. 2006 May;67(3):416-20.

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