No, I was not running as the clock struck midnight…I’m not that crazy! I was enjoying a glass of bubbly and a great view of the London fireworks from my roof, along with a large group of friends, both new and old.

I don’t usually like to make a huge deal out of NYE, and this year in particular, I wanted to keep things local and low-key. But even I was a bit concerned when, as of 3pm yesterday, I still hadn’t figured out my plans. However, some of the best evenings really are the ones that are thrown together spontaneously…

It just so happened that The Garrison, one of my favorite gastropubs (and also only a short walk from my flat), had one table left for their NYE dinner. Eric and I had discussed possibly cooking, but as we started to read the four-course menu, we quickly ditched that plan! Our meal was not only delicious but surprisingly light, and the owner even let us drink our own bottle of champagne without charging us a corkage fee. Result!

We finished dinner just after 9pm – perfect timing, since I had just learned that some friends were having a party in their amazing, massive flat literally across the street. We headed over and had so much fun drinking and playing games – can’t even remember the last time I played Taboo! Word soon got out that my rooftop had great views of the London Eye fireworks (and of my neighbors’ impressive fireworks display too, as it turned out), and so my evening wrapped up with an impromptu party back at my flat. I really couldn’t have asked for a better night – awesome food and company, lots of bubbly and fireworks, and all within a five minute walk of my bed.

Waking up this morning, however, was another story. How many glasses of champagne did I have?! Who knows. Which brings me to the topic of drinking and runningcan you have your bubbly and drink it too???

I’m not a huge drinker, so decreasing my alcohol intake or cutting out alcohol completely when I’m approaching a race usually isn’t too difficult for me, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone, particularly for those runners who are not training for a specific event. If you want to go out and get a bit drunk, does that mean you’ll have to miss a day of exercise? It shouldn’t, as long as you don’t go overboard and you are careful about drinking enough water throughout the evening and the next morning. Now, I certainly don’t advocate running while VERY hungover (chances are in that case, however, you will have NO desire to attempt a run), but sometimes going for an easy run while you’re feeling very blah the next day is exactly what the doctor ordered (ok maybe not, but who cares).

In my case, as soon as I woke up, I immediately started to rehydrate with a big glass of water. I had an easy 45-60min run marked in my calendar for today, which I would normally do earlier in the morning without having food beforehand. Given my hangover, however, as well as the fact that it was already noon, I decided to make some brunch instead.

I know many people swear by a greasy breakfast and perhaps even a drink as their hangover cure, but that just leaves me feeling heavy, gross and certainly in no state to run, which was not how I wanted to start my first day of 2011. Here’s my guilt-free “morning after” menu for two, mainly composed of what happened to be left in my fridge:

  • Three-egg omelet with shitake mushrooms, spinach, cheddar cheese and marinated tofu. I included all three yolks this time – I often only use one – and steamed the mushrooms and spinach in the microwave before adding to the omelet.
  • Fruit salad (sliced granny smith apple tossed in ground cinnamon, pomegranate seeds)
  • My homemade banana-walnut wholewheat muffins – I happened to have a couple left in the freezer from a batch I made a few weeks ago. They’re delicious when heated up in the microwave, and make the perfect (and convenient) healthy pre/post-run snack! I will post this recipe very soon!
  • Large steaming mugs of Monmouth coffee with skim milk – the best coffee I’ve had in London, so far, providing a much-needed energy boost!
  • And last but not least, a massive glass of water (with some Advil for that headache!)

I felt infinitely better after having this meal – relatively light but also filling and nutritious, with plenty of protein, calcium, healthy fats, complex carbs, anti-oxidants, iron, caffeine and so many other things essential for runners and non-runners alike!

However, I was still undecided as to whether or not I would go for that run. My bed seemed so warm and inviting, unlike the awful London drizzle that awaited me outside. For days like these, whether it’s the hangover blahs, fatigue, or general disinterest, my rule is – put on your running gear, start out at an easy pace and, if after ten minutes you’re really not into it, then you can call it quits. It might help to run with some fun music to get you motivated, or maybe you just want some peace and quiet while your thoughts wander (I opted for the latter). But don’t give up before you even try!

The one exception to this rule is the most important rule of all, which is always listen to your body. If you have been training hard and your body is craving some rest, then go for that instead. Doing one more easy run isn’t going to make a huge difference! But if you’re just feeling unmotivated, then get out there!

Sometimes I stop at ten or twenty minutes, but more often than not, I start to feel better and an easy mile turns into six, as was the case today. It was a miserable day out and the run seemed to go on for ages, but the fresh air still felt good and I enjoyed having the opportunity to clear my head and sweat out the previous night’s indulgences. I got back home feeling, well, not exactly re-energized, but I certainly felt good about myself and the year to come.

HAPPY 1/1/11!