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A marathon hangover

CATEGORIES: Beer Editor   Beer Runner  


It hit me like a ton of bricks when I got home.

It was that old familiar feeling. Nausea and stomach cramps. Extreme fatigue despite being restless and unable to sleep. Your mind a complete fog. The need to constantly visit the bathroom.

No, I’m not talking about a beer hangover, though I did indulge in high-ABV craft beer flights last night to celebrate my 33rd birthday.

I’m talking about the marathon hangover.

I realized that the feeling of overexerting in running and overindulging in drinking can produce the exact same physical and mental effects. It’s the highest highs followed by the lowest lows.

In the throes of struggle, it can lead to vowing to swear off drinking or never wanting to lace up your running shoes again.

Today was one of those days. Running my sixth marathon, I averaged about 6:45 miles going into the final two mile homestretch.

That’s the point where I really hit the wall. I battled cramping in my quads and hamstrings and a stiff headwind coming off Lake Michigan.

I knew if I was going to hit my goal of under 3 hours it was going to hurt. A lot. Somehow, I managed to stay upright and sprinted the final .02 miles to squeak under 3 hours in 2:59:55. It was also a nearly 27-minute PR.

I pulled up lame at the finish with every muscle in my body screaming at me. Then I paid the price the rest of the afternoon, in pain and unable to pull myself off the couch for anything other than an emergency trip to the bathroom.

It turns out I was not the only one experiencing these symptoms, as my friend Reggie pointed out. This weekend was the Great American Beer Festival.

I remember this feeling all too well. Five years ago this weekend, I was flying home on a few hours of sleep after overindulging at my first trip to GABF. I wasn’t sure I was going to survive the flight home.

These are good warning signs. You’re in for serious trouble if you overindulge or overexert yourself too often.

But as the saying goes, everything in moderation – including moderation.


Tim Cigelske is DRAFT's Beer Runner. (Beer Run•ner [noun]: Someone equally devoted to fine beer appreciation and an active, healthy lifestyle. Ex. "John downed four microbrews at the triathlon finish line. He's a total beer runner.”) Follow Tim on Twitter @TheBeerRunner, and email him at beerrunner [at] draftmag.com.


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  • Ernesto says:

    Marathon hangover? Heck, I sometimes get that same feeling you describe the day after a race pace long run. Doesn’t need to be 26.2 to get the effect – just hard and long enough to drain all the juice out of you. Great post and congrats on hitting your sub 3 goal!

  • Ryan says:

    I’m experiencing the same thing today. Marathon-induced…..

  • Howells and Hood (@HowellsandHood) says:

    Great achievement, well done! I can certainly relate, to both the running hangover and the beer kind. One is more common than the other, however!

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