Caffeine & Running

Yes, I love my coffee although not as much as hubby who had gotten into the habit of 15+ cups per day until recently when he discovered the excess caffeine was causing his daily migraines :( I am more on the lines of 4 cups per day with maybe 1 being a specialty latte on occasion. My love of coffee might be the reason behind tiramisu being my favorite dessert. You can see why I was thrilled a few years ago as I sat at a Sports Medicine conference and a nutritionist was speaking and caught my attention as she claimed "caffeine counts as fluid intake, it is not considering dehydrating" (now forgive me as I can not find the source anymore). I was thrilled as I was drinking what I'm sure was my 3rd or 4th cup of coffee that day.

As a runner I have always used the electrolyte gels/chews with caffeine and had a cup of coffee before a race, but does it help? According to many it does, although the amount needed varies from 1 mg-6 mg/kg body weight, but the agreement is that any amount will help an athlete to go further and faster (Source). Not only does coffee help athletic performance but also overall health; improving memory and metabolism and decreasing the risk for diabetes, gallstones, Parkinson's, gout, cancer and depression (Source).

My take on coffee
  • Not only does it taste great, but what is better than the smell of fresh brewed coffee
  • 1-2 cups 1+ hour prior to a workout is enough to keep me going, prevent the caffeine headache
  •  For a longer run I add in 1 additional caffeine source in the form of a gel or chew
  • Limit the caffeine during a workout to prevent excessive heart rate increase
  • After a long workout a coffee is perfect recovery
Not my question: If caffeine has been shown to improve athletic performance will it be the next banned substance? I hope not, but I do wonder. In the meantime go an enjoy that cup of coffee!

Last week my daughter was watching Sesame Street and once again coffee caught my attention. I looked over to see an entire segment discussing coffee and the variations. Starting the kids a little early?!


  1. I quit caffeine for 2 weeks prior to my last half marathon & felt that the 5hr energy & my race nutrition was MORE effective for me on race day!

    I won't lie, those 2 weeks were difficult!! And I celebrated the end of the race with a GIANT cup of codfee :)

  2. Love this post, as I am a coffee and latte drinker! I always get a latte after teaching my fitness classes at the gym :)

  3. I dont drink coffee because i do not like the taste. And there are always research results showing that drinking coffee is bad for you and other research showing that it is good and it is up to consumets to decide what we want to believe because it "fits" us. It is like that with almost everything.
    My parents drink coffee in the mornings and everytime i go home and dont drink with them my dad tells me that i need to grow up and start drinking coffee like a real adult:)

  4. This isn't a study, but it is written by someone with a PhD who's TALKING about studies - that counts, right?

    Also this:

    I'm generally in the Everything-in-Moderation camp when it comes to coffee.

  5. I LOVE the smell of coffee in the morning - so great - I wish I was smelling it right now, come on husband! :) I also think that if you get a latte afterward it is a great recovery drink because it has a lot of protein from the milk! :)

  6. Is there really anything better than grinding fresh coffee after a cold morning run, smelling it brew while you stretch, and then enjoying a cup right before your family gets up? Heaven!

  7. I do agree that caffeine can improve performance but I've always heard the exact opposite regarding caffeine and dehydration. Of course for every study out there on fitness there's another one that says the exact opposite.

  8. I definitely think caffeine can help, but I am not a coffee drinker... on the rare occasions that I have a little coffee or caffeinated chews, I feel like it gives me a boost, but it could be in my head. However, caffeine occasionally upsets my stomach, so it's not a risk worth taking on race day. :(

  9. I am a big coffee drinker. I try to stay at 3 cups a day, I don't usually go less, but on occasion I have more. They're spread out throughout the day, obviously starting first thing in the AM.

    Weird about Sesame Street.

    I do like caffeine in my chews for long distance running, but I can usually go either way.

  10. I utterly adore coffee! I am a coffee snob too, it has got to be fresh and it has got to be good quality. I drink a maximum of three cups per day - but since the coffee I drink is quite strong, it's probably the equivalent of about 6 normal cups. It's good to know that it's still hydration, though!


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