KILDARE RUNNING LIFE: Feeling ‘the fear’ of the hangover, and going for it anyways

Barry Kehoe gives his views

Barry Kehoe


Barry Kehoe


KILDARE RUNNING LIFE: Feeling ‘the fear’ of the hangover, and going for it anyways

Should you 'run off' a hangover?

The fear is a uniquely Irish phenomenon. It’s a sense of impending doom which comes from having overindulged in drinking alcohol the night before.

It also encompasses a feeling of extreme remorse for things you may or may not have said or done . Your skin feels like some else’s and the regular flashbacks are only punctuated by chronic sighing.

There’s head thumping, heart pounding and a tidal wave of nausea descending as ‘beer fear’ and ‘hangxiety’ start to kick in. Even familiarity with the symptoms gives no comfort, as each hangover has its own unique personality.

Runners and joggers like to drink. While runners are less likely than there non-athletic peers to eat to excess or smoke, they’re more likely to drink! Running doesn’t make you drink and drinking doesn’t make you run but there is a correlation — meaning that runners are more likely to have the occasional hangover.

The search for a cure to the hangover is as old as alcohol itself. Some runners feel that the best way to recover from a night of overindulgence is to “sweat it out”, embrace the misery and treat it to a tough running session.

It’s probably an effort to purge the guilt of the excess from the night before , and run away from the hangover before the longer enduring ‘fear’ kicks in. But this approach is a contentious one.

For some runners, pounding the pavement with an already pounding head is a sure way to make things worse, while for others a brisk five miler is the perfect remedy to the previous night’s poisons.

Even though you may smell the tequila coming off your skin and leaving through your pores the next morning , the reality is that alcohol is broken down to acetic acid and less than 5 % of it is excreted in the breath and sweat.

So you don’t really ever “sweat it out”. It is more likely that the beneficial effects of a run on a hangover are mental — the positive chemical effect on the brain through exercise balancing the depressant effect of alcohol.

Realise the cost of drinking on training

While it is easy to see a glass of wine or a cold beer after a long run as a well-earned reward for the hard work, and the odd glass of wine won't result in any harm, it's important to realise the potential implications of excess alcohol on your training programme.

Five or more drinks on a Friday or Saturday night before a long run or a tough session could sabotage the hard-earned results of months of hard work by increasing the risk of injury, reducing the body’s ability to respond and adapt to training load and reducing the body’s capacity to recover from heavy training.

But sometimes it’s the occasional overindulgence that gives you the resolve to cope in the leaner times. It’s the thought of the cold beer and the greasy dinner after completing a run whilst basking in the self-righteousness of the feeling ‘ I deserve this’ that keeps you going.

So, yes, runners should celebrate responsibly and drink in moderation most of the time but, as Oscar Wilde said: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Local physio and Newbridge AC member Barry Kehoe offers advice to runners of all levels. See