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The Benefits Of Coffee For Runners

Monday, October 20, 2014

In the same way that many of us rely on a cup of coffee to keep us alert and focused during a tough day at work or a particularly irksome task, runners around the globe, from those undertaking a few laps of their street to medal-winning Olympic athletes, count on their favourite caffeine injection for that extra boost.


Indeed, a strategic cup of Joe can be one of the most effective (legal) performance enhancers for those lacing up their trainers, and recent studies show that over two thirds of elite level athletes drink coffee to directly benefit their performance during an important race.

Improve endurance

One of the main reasons why runners drink coffee is that caffeine enables them to run harder for a longer period of time.

This is because caffeine, by increasing enzyme activity, forces the body to draw on its fat supplies for energy.

As a result, glycogen is used more slowly, thus allowing the runner to conserve more energy and last longer.

This performance enhancing effect can last up to several hours, which is particularly helpful to those running gruelling half-marathons and marathons!

Improve performance

In addition to enhancing endurance levels, a pre-run cup of coffee can also make the act of running feel much easier, as it can improve your mood and boost mental alertness and focus.

These endorphins will encourage your body to work harder and faster, as well as boost your desire to perform better, making those rough morning slugs a thing of the past!

Improve post-run recovery

As well as improving performance during your run, a cup of coffee can also help your body to recover and rebuild afterwards.

Recent studies have shown that runners who took a caffeine and carbohydrate drink after their race compared to those who just took carbohydrates were able to replenish their glycogen stores much more efficiently (66% more in this case).

When is the best time to drink coffee?

Studies indicate that the optimum time for a runner to drink a cup of coffee is roughly an hour before the race gun goes.

But remember to make sure that you leave enough time to visit a portable loo before you head over to the start line, otherwise you’ll likely find yourself caught short in the first few miles!

How much should I drink?

In order to see benefits from a pre-race cup of coffee, all that is needed, according to research, is 3-6 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight.

So, doing the maths, if you weigh around 150lbs, a 12oz coffee should contain the perfect amount of caffeine to see some results.

So there we have it, five facts all runners should know about coffee, and more excuses, if you need them, to indulge in coffee while training for your next race.

Do you drink coffee as part of your running regimen? Do you find it helps? We’d love to hear from you - get in touch with your thoughts and comments!

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