A blog by runners. For runners.

I had one drink. Can I run?

I had a drink. Can I run?Fess up: we know many of you have had this thought before.

If you had a mimosa with breakfast, is it OK to knock out a few miles? Can you hit up your evening running club after you imbibed at happy hour with your coworkers?

If you only had one drink, you may be tempted to forge on with your running plans, but that’s probably not the best idea.

Alcohol and running don’t mix
Drinking alcohol before exercising can not only negatively affect your performance, but it may be dangerous as well. Experts say even a small amount of alcohol impacts your whole body. Consider these facts:

  • Alcohol is considered a depressant because it slows down your central nervous system. This can reduce your coordination, making it challenging to keep your balance or even walk. Alcohol may decrease your reaction time and impair your ability to think clearly. Each of these side effects would make running more difficult – and more risky.
  • Alcohol may cause your blood sugar levels to drop. Lacing up your shoes to head out on a run when your blood sugar is low is a recipe for disaster. You may feel dizzy, weak, or even pass out.
  • Alcohol may dehydrate you. Do you know what else dehydrates you? Running. Do you know what doesn’t feel good? Running when you’re not adequately hydrated. It’s also unsafe.
  • Alcohol may cause you to urinate more. And, really, who wants to stop mid-run to pee?

So, when can I run?
Well, that depends on how much you’ve had to drink, your sex, weight, and age, and other factors, like if you’ve recently eaten. In general, if you weigh 150 lbs. and only had one drink, it will take about two hours for the alcohol to be out of your blood. If you weigh more and/or are male, it will take less time. If your weigh less and or are female, it will take more time. 

However, if you weigh 150 lbs. and had two or three drinks, it may take up to 7 hours for the alcohol to be cleared from your body. Keep in mind that the more alcohol you drink, the more unpleasant symptoms you’ll experience.

It’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to running. If you had one glass of champagne at brunch, the alcohol will likely be out of your system come evening, but why take a chance? Postpone your run to the next day and spend the rest of the day hydrating and eating nutritious foods. Then you’ll be in tip-top condition the next day. Better yet, get in your workout first thing in the morning and enjoy your cocktail later on.  

Written by Jen Matz.