Some people cannot function properly before their first cup of coffee in the morning. Others go for a run in order to completely wake themselves up. But what if you belong in both of these categories? Is drinking coffee before a run a bad idea? Well, a lot of people think so, mostly because coffee has a diuretic effect and therefore can possibly lead to dehydration issues.
Not to worry, contrary to popular belief caffeine consumption does not lead to water-electrolyte imbalances or reduced exercise-heat tolerance. In fact, having a cup of joe before a run can even boost your performance! Crazy, huh?
If you are a huge coffee fan and an active runner, here are several reasons why drinking this hot beverage before you hit the tracks might be a great idea.
Four Ways Coffee Will Help You Run Faster
1. Coffee helps you stay alert
Have you ever woken up in the morning or gotten home after a hard day, just not feeling like going for a run? In those times when you are in desperate need of a mental boost, a cup of coffee might be your best friend.
Studies have shown that caffeine boosts your mental alertness, your mood, as well as your motivation to run hard. This can really come in handy especially if you are preparing for a marathon. We all know how those weeks of intense training can test your will-power, so coffee can be that extra boost you are looking for.
Since caffeine reduces your consciousness of effort, running fast can feel easier. Who knew coffee and running go hand in hand?
2. It increases your body’s ability to burn fat
One of the most important benefits of caffeine is that it increases fat utilization, thereby conserving glycogen. This is especially important for marathons when you need glycogen to complete the second half of the race.
On the other hand, caffeine inflates the acceleration at which your body can convert fat to usable energy which is great news in case you are trying to lose weight.
3. Coffee helps you run faster
Whether you are a sprinter or a long distance runner, caffeine will increase your power. A cup of coffee can help your brain send signals to your muscles to contract and relax faster, which means your leg muscles will fire faster and more forcefully. In other words, you will run faster with less effort, and isn’t that every runner's dream?
4. It improves your heat tolerance
Studies show that athletes who ingest caffeine are able to complete up to 23 percent more work in hot weather than those who only drink water or traditional sports beverages.
When to Take Caffeine?
Since caffeine is absorbed quickly and lasts for hours, timing really isn’t critical. However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t drink coffee before your every workout. Let’s put it this way - maybe you want to introduce boxing workouts into your workout regime or go to the gym to spice things up.
Whilst during a race you want to run as hard and fast as you can and push your limits, regular workouts don't require maximal effort. Therefore, supplementation to boost your performance is not necessary.
It helps you recover faster
While drinking coffee before a run has many benefits, using caffeine after a run also has its upsides. When used in conjunction with carbohydrates it can reduce the time it takes to bounce back from a hard workout.
The right amount of caffeine
Although drinking coffee has many benefits, keep in mind that you should consume it in moderation. Hardcore coffee drinkers can suffer from long term health problems such as excruciating headaches and insomnia.
So, how much caffeine is best for runners? Well, about five milligrams of caffeine for every 2.3lbs of body weight is the ideal supplementation. In translation, a 150lb runner can supplement with 340 milligrams of caffeine, which is about 16 oz of brewed coffee.
So the next time you want to prepare this hot beverage before a race, hop on a scale and see just how much coffee you should drink in order to boost your performance.
Drinking coffee can benefit exercise performance and improve endurance. However, it can also make you too jittery or give you an upset stomach if you are not used to drinking it. Therefore, before your next race, experiment with coffee and make sure that it is not too hard on your stomach in order to avoid an unpleasant situation.
About the Author: Ian Lewis is a father, writer, and a fitness nut. He’s passionate about many forms of strength training and spent years lifting all kinds of heavy objects. His favorite quote: There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.
Find him on Twitter.