10 Simple Ways to Hack Alcohol Use to Keep Your Health, Fitness & Running Goals on Track
If you're like my husband & I, you still enjoy less healthful food & drink choices despite being a dedicated runner, health or fitness enthusiast.
Although I typically don't push the limits of alcohol use too far, celebrating my husband's 20th high school reunion was a BIG night out... and it hurt the next day! The video below walks you through a real-life example of how I used 10 science-based hacks to keep my health, fitness & running goals on track during & after our alcohol-filled evening.
As I share these 10 strategies, think about how you can apply them to restore your body's energy & health when you choose to drink.
After watching, check out the interesting plot twist to my comeback story below, showcasing a great example of just how much alcohol impacts our health despite our best efforts!
THE PLOT TWIST
Despite my best efforts to implement these 10 strategies, I did see impacts on my health. We all know alcohol is toxic to our body, increasing stress & inflammation. Additionally, any time we choose to drink our sleep, recovery & immune system are impaired. All of the above got me... and they got me good!
Interestingly, you can see the immediate impact on my average resting heart rate the day after I drank (Sunday). Even more interesting, I was sitting in a car nearly the ENTIRE day as we drove 8 hours home! Holy high hungover heart rate!
Then, note how you can see my average resting heart rate climb from Monday on. Turns out, my body was indeed fighting illness & by Wednesday evening I was in Urgent Care getting an antibiotic for an infection! May I have gotten this infection, even if I didn't drink? Perhaps. However, it's fascinating how biometric data, like average resting heart rate, can help us gauge when our body is fighting illness or acutely ill.
If you notice your workouts are appearing more difficult than usual for no known reason (i.e., you're getting good sleep, eating well, hydrated, etc.), then check out your watch's heart rate data. If higher than normal, your body may be fighting something. To avoid getting an all-out illness, take a proactive extra rest day, replace a hard workout with an easier one, get extra sleep or try any of these nutrition strategies I share here.
And to take you down the exercise physiology rabbit hole further, as an FYI, below is how I adjusted my running training plan to support recovery from my illness. Fun Fact: A cut point we Physiologists use to indicate one shouldn't exercise or run is if we have a fever. Since I didn't have a fever, I chose to continue to exercise while my body fought off the infection. However, I did make sure to adjust my training plan as follows to support my body's needs, ability to heal & keep half marathon training on track:
Original Training Plan
Adjusted Plan for Illness
Prescheduled day off from running, Weight Lift & Walk
20-minute lift instead of 30, walk 1x/day vs. 3x/day
WU + Tempo 6 + CD
Easy 6 Miles
Easy 5 Miles
14 Easy Hybrid Road/Trail
Easy 6 Miles
Easy 5 Miles
Long Moderate Effort 14 Miles
WU + Tempo 6 + CD only if fully recovered & fever free
As you can see, we can have our indulgences & keep our goals on track. However, it does take some strategy & the willingness to adapt when consequences appear!
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Wishing you a vibrant, healthy day,
Louise Valentine, MPH, CHES, CSCS, ACSM-EP, ACSM-EIM, BCTMB
Named #1 Health Education Specialist in U.S., Top 10 Performance Coach