THE ULTIMATE RUNNERS GUIDE TO COFFEE

Running on Caffeine

This article is centered on runners and the possible effects of caffeine (substance found in coffee) on their performance.

As an athlete in general, you are always looking for ways to better yourself. This will include constant training and practices, experiments, and ultimately dieting. As an athlete, aspiring, beginner or professional, it is important to stay in shape for an added calorie may hinder you from performing the way you ought to.

Also, consuming something that doesn’t go well with your body may have adverse effects on your performance. Imagine taking a substance that causes dizziness such as codeine moments before a run, imagine the impact it would have on you while running.

As an athlete, you should monitor what you consume, especially right before an event you would participate in.

We shall be addressing the following questions:

  • Does Coffee have adverse effects for a runner?
  • Is it a bad idea to go running shortly after drinking coffee?
  • Is drinking coffee good before a big run?

Running on Coffee

Before we dive into answering these questions, it is important to have at the back of your mind that while you might be a runner, you are still human.

I say this because each individual has what works for him, what worked for A might render B useless.It shouldn’t be a “Josh takes 3 cups of coffee before running why can’t I?” thing, you would be surprised at the negative effects that same quantity of caffeine would have on you.

It is therefore important to experiment on what works for you and what level is too much before you have an important run.This essentially means that you should experiment with caffeine while training rather than when it is time to be professional.

Once you have experimented and are certain of the amount of caffeine that is compatible with your body, you can proceed to take coffee before professional runs.


Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s answer the above mentioned questions.

Does Coffee Have Adverse Effects For A Runner?

This question stems from the fact that scientists always appear to be confused when the topic being discussed is coffee and how it affects the human body. You read somewhere now that coffee is bad for you and boycott the Starbucks opposite your house only to read another article listing the numerous benefits coffee has on the human body.

However, when it comes to caffeine and its effects on an athlete, a runner for the purpose of this article, it has been well established that caffeine has the capability to enhance performance.

Studies have shown that runners who consume coffee, and caffeine in extension, prior to participating in a race lasted longer, went faster, and had a more speedy recovery than runners who didn’t consume coffee before the event. It is said that caffeine has the potential to improve performance by a whopping 20-25%. While this figure might prove to be exaggerated in practice, there is no doubt that caffeine intake significantly boosts performance.

However, this is not a guarantee that coffee or caffeine does not have adverse effects on runners. Remember what I said earlier about you being human and what works for everyone might not work for you?

Well, caffeine intake can affect you adversely, causing the well-known side effects such as headaches and nervousness, if you aren’t a regular coffee drinker. So you might want to get your body familiar with coffee before proceeding to imitate Josh and gulp down two or three cups.

Also, if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, it is advised you consult a doctor before proceeding to drink coffee as it might affect you adversely.


Is It A Bad Idea To Go Running Shortly After Drinking Coffee?

Before proceeding to answer this question, it is important to point out that coffee and its star component, caffeine, are not drugs so you shouldn’t expect to see results immediately. In fact, that is probably the reason why it is among the few legalized performance enhancers.

Studies have shown that it is ideal to take in caffeine almost one hour before you go for a run if you intend to experience the effects the caffeine would have on your performance.

This means that after you might have drank the ideal amount of coffee, you should go about doing other things for an hour while waiting for the caffeine to circulate round your body and begin to carry out the function it was originally taken for.

In conclusion, while it is absolutely okay to run shortly after drinking coffee (if you are able to carry your stomach), if you want to check how and to what extent caffeine intake would affect your performance, it is advised to wait for close to an hour before hitting the tracks.

It is noteworthy to point out that if you should experience headaches, nervousness, anxiety, or other side effects of caffeine either from taking one too many cups of coffee or your body system is not quite used to it yet, you are strongly advised against going for a run till the effects wear off.


Is Drinking Coffee Good Before A Big Run?

Based on what I have been saying, the automatic answer to this should be a yes, after all, caffeine has been proven to legally and significantly boost performance, and what better time to give yourself a boost than before a big run? However, if you decide to base your answer solely off this, you might get in trouble.

First things first, as I said earlier, it is important to know your body and how it reacts to caffeine. It isn’t ideal for you to experiment taking coffee moments before you are expected to be running on a grand stage as you may be unlucky and experience the normal side effects (if not worse) and this may hinder you from participating in your big run.

Before taking coffee before a big run, it is important for runners to have experimented previously while training to know if their body is compatible with coffee.

Studies have also shown that coffee might cause stomach upset in some runners. Caffeine is known to cause diarrhoea in some runners while other runners take a cup of coffee in the morning to clean out the system before running on a big event.

Runners can also avoid witnessing this on the day of a big run if they had previously experimented on what their body dislikes and what quantity is deemed too much for their body system.

Running on coffee Infographic 

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How Much Coffee?

Ideally, every human should take about 1 or 2 mg per kg of body weight. This means that for a runner who weighs 150 pounds (about 68kg), the ideal amount of coffee for him or her is 300mg (2 cups of coffee). 

Run faster with coffee


Now that we have gotten those questions out of the way, let us focus on another question that is always on every determined runners’ minds:

How Can I Improve My Running?

In order to be the best, you have to keep working on ways to improve yourself. Even when you become the best, it is not enough to just be best, you have to keep working and running and training and looking for techniques that can help you ensure you remain the best.

Usain Bolt didn’t simply win one gold medal and give up training because he had been dubbed the fastest of all runners. No! He made sure he trained harder to ensure the rising and existing runners don’t dethrone him. If Usain Bolt can do it, why can’t you?

Below are tips that can significantly improve your running ability and make you run faster:

  • Avoid landing heels first while running: Landing with your heels while running should be avoided and should be only done during power walks. This is because landing with your heel while running can cause back and knee pain to runners. Instead, land on your forefoot as this enables your body to hold the weight of your body thus diminishing the effects of impact on bones and joints.

  • Avoid long strides: Runners can to a large extent save a whole lot energy while running if they take short and effective strides rather than long and ineffective ones. You should only take a long stride when you feel you are about to fall and have the need to catch yourself. Following this tip can help you save energy that would be useful later on in the race.

  • Try barefoot running shoes rather than comfortable trainers: While training, your aim is to strengthen your body most especially the feet, hips, knees, lower back and ankles. However, trainers that are too comfortable deprive the feet from carrying out this function of strengthening itself and other body parts. This will leave you with a weaker feet and make you more prone to injury.

  • How about a shot of espresso or a cup (or two) of freshly brewed coffee some 45 minutes before you run? As explained in about ¾ of this article, caffeine has the power to boost your running ability and make you perform better than you would have ordinarily.

Drink coffee before a run

In conclusion of it all, while it is perfectly okay for runners to consume caffeine before running as it helps boosts performance, it is important for them (runners) to carry out some experiments on their own to know if their body is friends or foe with the substance and to what extent.

N.B. Too much of a good thing isn’t good. Consuming too much caffeine can have serious adverse effects on the well-being of a runner.

Too much caffeine is also able to make you perform worse while running than you would have if you had monitored the dosage or skipped taking that cup of coffee altogether.


So, basically, all I’m saying is “Drink responsibly.” See you at the finish line!

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