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!


The verdict

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!




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