Most of us know how awful it feels to have a hangover. But should you grab your trainers and head out for a run when you’re suffering from too much alcohol?!
The problem with mixing alcohol with running is that they are both dehydrating. It is crucial that you are well hydrated when you run. Alcohol is a diuretic meaning that it works on your kidneys to make you pee out more fluid than you are taking in. For every unit of alcohol you drink, you’ll lose 100ml of extra urine – two large glasses of wine containing four units is nearly half a litre of additional urine. The headache and dry mouth that you suffer with after drinking is a result of this dehydration.
Alcohol can also interfere with your blood sugar. Your liver breaks down the alcohol taking about an hour to deal with one unit. While it does this it is unable to effectively produce glucose so your blood sugar tends to be lower while alcohol is in your system. Your liver may still be working its way through your alcohol intake the day after you’ve drank. Lower blood glucose can make you less coordinated, reduce your concentration and slow reaction times which can make you more likely to get injured if you run. Your liver is also slower at clearing lactic acid, which can reduce your strength and increase your tiredness.
You cannot sweat out alcohol, contrary to popular opinion; this work has to be done by your liver. Fresh air and gentle exercise can help to clear your head and burn off excess alcohol calories, but you need to take it easy and be sensible. You will need to rehydrate as much as possible and eat before you run. Take a drink with you and don’t aim to do your hardest hill runs on a hangover day.
It doesn’t matter what you drink, it’s the amount of alcohol in your system that matters the most. If you can keep track of you units you’ll be able to work out how many excess units you’ll lose in excess urine. If you can, alternate between alcohol and water by ordering a pint of water with every drink. And make sure you have a large glass of water before you go to bed.
Running on a hangover risks dehydration, higher injury risks and reduces performance so make sensible choices. It’s the hangover or the hill runs!