Running from “The Fear”

“The fear” is a uniquely Irish phenomenon. It’s a sense of impending doom having overindulged in drinking alcohol the night before. The 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. 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, each hangover has its own unique personality.hangover 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 (Leasure et al., 2015).

The search for a cure to the hangover is as old as alcohol itself (Verster e Penning, 2010). 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 as alcohol is broken down to acetic acid and less than 5 % of  it is excreted  in the breath and sweat (Paton, 2005). 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.

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 (El-Sayed et al., 2005; Vella e Cameron-Smith, 2010). 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 ……  “Everything in moderation, including moderation” –  Oscar Wilde”.



EL-SAYED, M. S.; ALI, N.; EL-SAYED ALI, Z. Interaction between alcohol and exercise: physiological and haematological implications. Sports Med, v. 35, n. 3, p. 257-69,  2005. ISSN 0112-1642 (Print)



LEASURE, J. L.  et al. Exercise and Alcohol Consumption: What We Know, What We Need to Know, and Why it is Important. Front Psychiatry, v. 6, p. 156,  2015. ISSN 1664-0640 (Print)



PATON, A. Alcohol in the body. Bmj, v. 330, n. 7482, p. 85-7, Jan 8 2005. ISSN 0959-8138.


VELLA, L. D.; CAMERON-SMITH, D. Alcohol, athletic performance and recovery. Nutrients, v. 2, n. 8, p. 781-9, Aug 2010. ISSN 2072-6643.


VERSTER, J. C.; PENNING, R. Treatment and prevention of alcohol hangover. Curr Drug Abuse Rev, v. 3, n. 2, p. 103-9, Jun 2010. ISSN 1874-4737.

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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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