Every once in a while I get a letter or email from a reader that I just can’t set aside. I mean I love answering email, but there are questions and then there are questions and I’ve got a good one for you today. Now this question has to do with masturbation and running; I should start by saying, even before providing the question, that I have no “hands-on” knowledge or experience with masturbation myself. But then coaches many times have to provide advice about “gripping” subjects with which they themselves have not had to “wrestle.”
[NOTE: Sadly, there’s not much serious information out there on this topic, because most people that have written about it tend to want to only joke about it. I’ve already made my tongue-in-cheek comments and for the rest of this article I will try to actually answer the question.]
“My question is how does masturbation affect my running. My legs tend to be sore after doing it. About 2K into my runs I start to feel better, but it does affect my times. I mostly try to refrain from doing this, but we all have those moments. Also, after masturbating, I have this uncontrollable urge to work out. I just want to do the right thing.”
So first of all, I think that I can start by saying that there is no direct impact between running fitness and masturbation. Fitness for running is developed through a mixture of cardio-vascular capacity and the muscular strength in the legs and other major muscle groups that power the body forward. We could start by saying that masturbation doesn’t really “tax” any of the major muscle groups used by runners, depending I suppose how you do it. Masturbation is mostly a hand-arm thing and running is mostly a leg-stomach thing. Perhaps excessive masturbation might give you carpal-tunnel syndrome in your wrist, but it’s not going to fatigue your legs much. Masturbation may in fact leave you feeling fatigued, but this has no impact on your running fitness. On other side of the coin, masturbation is said to relieve stress for many people, so it might actually help some people before a race, but then let’s not see anyone trying this in public.
With all of that said, when you finish masturbating and you climax, there’s a surge of hormones and adrenaline involved. As one article says: “Orgasm can cause a significant spike in prolactin levels (approximately 10 to 15ng/ml) immediately after and upwards to 10-20 minutes later, at which it starts to decline. This spike is dependent on ejaculation, and does not occur under non-orgasmic arousal. This spike may serve to suppress further sexual desires.” [For the complete article on this topic, click here.]
How this leaves the person feeling afterward varies from person-to-person, but it generally leaves you feeling quite relaxed or even tired. This is what our questioner is likely feeling when he starts running right afterward and it most likely wears off pretty quickly. This is similar to needing to warm-up for running in general. Masturbating right before a run is probably very similar to taking a nap or doing something else that leaves you in a tired and unaroused state, so the body has to get other systems started to counter-act that. That’s probably why after he warms up in those first 2K, he feels fine.
Having an urge to work out after climaxing may be how your body reacts after the release of hormones and adrenaline. While I can’t say whether this is typical of every person, it’s certainly reasonable. The same article quoted above notes that climax does not impact testosterone levels in the body, so there would be no reason to try to masturbate before a race in order to get a testosterone surge.
Now, the writer didn’t say exactly how he masturbated and whether it was actually before running, but we’ll assume so. I only bring this up because (in all seriousness) I have met women runners that can be stimulated during running, even to the point of climax. I guess if the shorts rub ya’ the wrong way then this can happen. As one of my female friends told me, “it’s kind of distracting, but I kind of like it too.” I’ve personally never had anything like this happen, but I will hold out hope that I mat get lucky.
So in the final analysis, there’s probably little to no impact to runners that masturbate before they run. It isn’t something that I would advise people to do, because a pre-race or pre-workout routine should really be aimed at increasing arousal and awareness, rather than potentially lowering it. But as I said earlier, there could be people that would actually benefit from the relaxation and increased focus that climax might bring them. In the words of one of my friends, “whatever makes you happy” I suppose.
Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
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