When you wake up in the morning after a heavy drinking session, what better way to “sweat out” all of the toxins from the night before than by going for a run? In fact, many of you seem to agree, with 36% of you telling us in our recent poll that a run always made you feel better the day after.
For years, many of us have shared this view, but does running actually help to cure a hangover? Can we really “sweat out” alcohol or is running with alcohol in our system doing us more harm than good? We’ve teamed up with GP Juliet McGrattan to separate fact from fiction when it comes to running with a hangover. Here’s what she had to say.
Is it ever beneficial to run with a hangover?
Sadly, you cannot “sweat out” alcohol. The work has to be done by the liver. Fresh air and gentle exercise can help clear your head and, of course, you’ll burn off the excess liquid calories. The runner’s high you get may also counteract some of the “alcoholic low”, but you have to be sensible about this. Assess how you truly feel and how much you really drank before setting off.
If you only had a few drinks, is it OK to run?
A run is unlikely to harm you, but it would be a good idea to rehydrate as much as possible and eat before you run. Take water with you to keep sipping. Be prepared to go slower than usual, or stop if you feel unwell.
Are there better alcoholic choices you can make?
It doesn’t matter what type of alcohol you drink. It’s the level of the alcohol itself in your bloodstream that triggers the extra urine production and it doesn’t matter what volume that’s in. Keep track of your units, not the type of drinks you have. A good tip is to alternate alcoholic and soft drinks – this helps to keep you hydrated.
If you do get drunk but want to run the next day, how can you lessen the damage?
Do all you can to rehydrate. Have a very large glass of water before you go to bed and put another glass beside your bed to sip during the night. Drink further water or a sports drink the next morning. Delay going out for as long as you can, to give yourself maximum recovery time. Eat something before you run, and take a sports drink with you, too. Abandon any hope of a PB or fast intervals, and warm up very slowly. Finally, listen to your body – if you feel lightheaded, dizzy, sick or just plain awful, you may have to head home. Remember there’s always another time! You can put in extra effort next time you run.
Is there a hangover cure?
While there is no magic cure for a hangover, you can reduce the severity in advance, by improving the body’s ability to process alcohol. Here’s a list of preventive measures/cures as suggested by Nutritional Therapist Daisy Connor from the Nutri Centre.
■ Milk thistle before drinking, before bed and in the morning.
■ A protein-rich snack before bed (such as peanut butter on wholegrain toast).
■ Eggs for breakfast, on wholemeal bread with tomatoes.
■ Increasing antioxidants with fresh fruits and vegetables or a supplement, such as vitamin C.
■ Reducing dehydration with coconut water in the evening and throughout the next day – it contains electrolytes and it’s alkalising; the perfect post-alcohol and post-exercising drink.
■ Taking Emergen-C (99p per sachet; available nationwide), which provides electrolytes, B vitamins and vitamin C, which are depleted by alcohol consumption.