Caffeine and Running
Posted by Tia Patel | MAY-04-2021
It’s estimated that 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day 😲
Coffee is the choice of drink for many pre-run, providing a much needed energy boost first thing in the morning and in the evening when energy levels are at their lowest.
Keep reading for the benefits of drinking coffee before a run, when you should drink coffee before running and the effects of caffeine on post run recovery.
Benefits of drinking coffee before a run
1. Mental alertness and improved state of mind - Research shows that caffeine boosts your mental alertness, improves your mood, and boosts your desire to run hard. This is great for those speed workouts first thing in the morning, or for evening runners who need a mental boost after a long day at work. Caffeine helps to reduce perception of effort, which makes running fast feel easier. It also releases endorphins, the same hormones that produce a runner’s high.
2. Increases your body’s ability to burn fat running - Caffeine enhances your body’s use of fat as a fuel source, thereby conserving glycogen which is critical to performance on longer races. Caffeine also increases the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, which increases the speed at which your body can convert fat to usable energy.
3. Increases speed in running long distances and improves your power - By enhancing reaction time and improving neuromuscular coordination (how fast your brain can send a signal to your muscles to contract and relax), your leg muscles can move faster and more forcefully, which means you’ll be more efficient as a runner.
4. Caffeine and heat tolerance running - A recent study looked at the effect of consuming a caffeinated sports drink on performance in a warm environment. Cyclists who ingested caffeine completed 15 to 23 percent more work in hot weather than cyclists who used either water or a traditional sports beverage. For runners, this means coffee can help you make it through those hot and humid summer runs.
5. Helps you get a faster 5k time - In a 5k test run, researchers found that runners who used caffeine prior to their 5k race improved by 1.0 to 1.1 percent. This means a 20-minute 5k runner would run 10-13 seconds faster simply by drinking a cup of coffee. Sounds like the perfect miracle drink for getting a pb!
When should you drink coffee before running?
It’s recommended to drink your coffee 45 minutes prior to working out. This gives your body time to digest the caffeine and allow it to enter your bloodstream. Be warned that waiting too long will allow the effects to fade meaning the caffeine hit won’t be as effective in your running performance.
Studies have shown that 3-5mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight is optimal to see the performance benefits while running.
If you choose to run first thing in the morning, take the coffee the minute you wake up. However, studies have shown that caffeine should be consumed after food to avoid a spike in blood pressure. We recommend supplementing your coffee with some food, perhaps a banana, to avoid a sugar crash.
Caffeine and post run recovery
Whilst a cup of joe isn’t typically your go to post run drink, caffeine consumed with carbohydrates after a run could help replenish depleted glycogen stores and give you an energy boost to keep you going for the rest of the day.
Coffee post run won’t give you a performance boost for next time, but you’ll still be reaping the other benefits that coffee has to offer including the reduced risk for several chronic diseases. Coffee is also rich in vitamin B2 and magnesium and will help you feel more alert after a tiring long run.
To help with recovery, we recommend a 3 in 1 gel pack to treat any niggles.
Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, so it’s important to keep hydrated throughout the day for optimum running recovery.
Remember, moderation is key when it comes to drinking coffee.