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Run Faster With Caffeine

Friday, June 05, 2015

Are you a runner or endurance athlete looking to shave a few seconds - or maybe more – off your personal best time?

Well, aside from consistently chalking up the mileage, we have a novel solution which could help you improve performance… coffee!

Yes, drinking coffee can actually help you run faster, according to the latest research.   

Although it used to (wrongly) be a restricted substance for athletes and thought to cause hydration, the caffeine present in coffee, in addition to improving focus and alertness, has an abundance of hidden athletic benefits.

So much so, that some of the world’s top athletes rely on a cup of coffee prior to competing.

Mo Farrah, for example, hero of the London 2012 Olympics and distance running genius, said in his recently published autobiography, Twin Ambitions, that:

"Twenty minutes before a race I’ll normally drink some coffee. As I walk onto the stadium track, I feel this massive caffeine high.”  


However, caffeine is not just used by top level athletes as a stimulant.

Research has shown that moderate amounts of caffeine can actually improve long-term endurance during distance events – especially in the mid to latter stages of a race.

Emma Barraclough, the senior sports nutritionist for Science in Sport, commented:

“Caffeine doesn’t provide any additional energy in itself but over a long period of time, such as a half marathon or above, it helps you maintain a work level.

“It allows Mo to keep pushing hard even when he’s starting to fatigue and his lactic levels are increasing.

“Typically, he’ll run at very close to his threshold pace for the majority of his shorter races, although that changes a little for the marathon.”

Barraclough goes on to say that if “you’re likely to be racing for many hours, it’s a good idea to try and drip-feed the caffeine.

“For example, rather than taking it all at once, you could swap one or two of your normal energy gels for caffeine ones for the last two hours.”

If you do choose to use caffeine in a race, the expert advice is to test drive your regime during training to find out what works for you.

That’s because both sensitivity to caffeine and the rate at which it is metabolised vary hugely between individuals.

A typical recommended dosing range is between 3mg and 5mg per kilo of body mass for endurance runners.

Over to you

Do you already drink coffee before undertaking any physical exercise?

Are you thinking of including it in your training regimen?

As always, please get in touch with us here at the Café2U Blog with your comments and questions – we love hearing what our readers have to say.

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