You awaken to the deafening screeches of your iPhone’s alarm. You groan as you turn over. Your head is pounding. For the less fortunate, a cold sweat and wave of nausea overtake you. That Jameson shot tasted like water last night, but it doesn’t feel so good inside you now. Even worse, it’s time to go run.
This is an all-too-familiar situation for most runners. While we are less likely to smoke and have poor diets, scientists have noticed a positive correlation in athletes’ alcohol consumption. Theories abound, but one says that athletes chemically stimulate their brains the same way alcohol does. Thus, that “reward” feeling can kick in when you’re knocking back a Manhattan. With our addiction to triumph, sometimes we’ll find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the hangover from hell.
So, what’s a runner to do?
Some athletes enjoy the concept of “sweating it out”. In hockey, morning skates were partially designed to make the players do just that. There are also professional runners who swear by the detoxing effects of getting all the poison out through your pores. However, it’s important to stay safe.
Alcohol is a diuretic, so you become dehydrated almost immediately upon drinking. It’s ideal to trade off between water and an alcoholic beverage as you drink, but who are we kidding here? At best, try to drink a bottle or two of water before you go to bed. In the morning, continue to overcompensate your water intake.
While some recommend having coffee, I believe this hurts more than it helps. Caffeine is also a diuretic which means you become further dehydrated. When you’re dehydrated, your heart tends have palpitations. Personally, adding a stimulant on top of this just sounds (and feels) beyond sketchy.
When it comes to hangovers, sports drinks work almost as well for recovery as your long run. They contain crucial electrolytes that are lost while drinking. For those who haven’t heard yet, Pedialyte is an incredible way to recover from a long night. Blue Powerade works great, too.
Wait it Out
Most likely, drinking signals it’s the weekend. There’s plenty of time to rest up and feel better. The only real cure for a hangover is sleep, so it might be best to just bench for a while until you’re ready to lace up.
Take it from Dr. Damion Martins. He’s a sports medicine physician and the Director of Executive Health, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Atlantic Health System in New Jersey:
“If you run while hungover, you are at a higher risk for muscle strains, cramps, muscle pulls, and electrolyte imbalances. 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.”