Is Coffee Good For Runners?
Most of the runners I know love their coffee, but is it a good thing to drink before a race? I have read articles that praise the effect of caffeine on a runners performance and I have read articles on how many things can go wrong if you drink coffee on race morning. So…..which is it? Good or Bad? I did a little research and this is what I found:
The caffeine found in coffee improves performance
It improves mental alertness and increases fat utilization by increasing the number of fatty acids in the blood stream – this can increase the speed at which your body can convert fat to energy
It can improve your 5k time
Researchers used a 5k as a test run and found that caffeine users improved their time by 1.0-1.1%. While this is only a small improvement, a runner could possibly shave a few seconds off of their time. As a matter of fact, 2/3 Olympic Athletes use caffeine to boost performance.
Caffeine + carbohydrates decreases recovery time
The caffeine found in coffee combined with carbohydrates rebuilds glycogen stores up to 66% more than a drink with just carbohydrates – anyone up for a mocha?
Yes, caffeine is a diuretic, but when used in moderation it is fine to drink before exercise. Studies show that runners can have up to 550 milligrams of caffeine (about 4-5 cups of coffee) without affecting hydration.
Reasons not to drink coffee before a run
- If you are not used to it, coffee can cause headaches and give you the jitters
- If you have heart conditions or high blood pressure, coffee before a workout may not be a good idea so make sure you check with your doctor first.
- If you have stomach issues, coffee may not be a good plan – nobody wants to deal with stomach distress on a run!
If your stomach can handle it, drink up! But as always, NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY so be sure to use coffee in your training!
When Training Doesn’t Go As Planned – Make It Work!
We’ve all heard the Yiddish Proverb “Man plans, God laughs.” That pretty much sums up my training so far this year. Between snowmageddon 1, 2, and 3 which left the roads with a solid inch of ice, unexpected hospital stays (family members, not me) and back pain caused by shoes that just weren’t right for me, I have yet to run further than 6 miles….and I have the Oak Barrel Half Marathon in four weeks. Not just any half marathon, a very hilly half marathon. The famous Whiskey Hill has its own facebook page!
What do you do when your training plan has been curtailed by illness, weather, or overtime at work? You follow Tim Gunn’s advice and “Make it work!” Any other Project Runway fans out there?
Five tips to “Make It Work”
- Tweak your training schedule – sit down and look at your long runs. Can you still get them in? Can you increase your long run by 1.5 – 2 miles each week instead of 1? Can you ease back on weekday miles so you can still get in your long run without overtraining?
- Adjust your time goals – if you can’t stick to your training plan, that Sub-2 half marathon is probably not going to happen. Make sure your goals are realistic and have fun with the race. My fastest half marathon was probably my least enjoyable and my favorite race memory was one of my slowest times because I was having a blast running with friends. Unless you are an elite athlete – and let’s face it, if you are, you probably aren’t reading my blog – you’re not going to win anyway so you might as well have a good time!
- Get in some cardio – if you can’t run, try and get in some good cardio. Spin class or HIIT workouts are great ways to get in some quick cardio and keep your conditioning.
- Get a support system – enlist some friends to get you through the race. If they can’t run with you, have them cheer you on from different spots on the course. If you know you are going to have someone cheering you on every 2 – 3 miles, it gives you the encouragement to get there!
- Cut your losses – it is far better to sit one race out than to get injured or worsen an existing injury and have to sit out months or even an entire year. Be a race cheerleader or volunteer instead. You can still be involved and have a great time too!
What do you do when your training plan gets disrupted?
Have you ever cheered at a race?