For some people, caffeine is just a morning pick-me-up, for other people it is one of the ways to get and an extra boost of energy during the running or endurance training. However, everyone experiences different effects of caffeine.
Some people drink coffee before a run and don't have any issues. Other people may experience the opposite effect in the form of gut issues or heartburn. Everyone has individual caffeine tolerance.
For instance, if I consume too much caffeine, I get really jittery, nervous, and panicking as if I'm going to have a heart attack. On the other hand, if drinking coffee is your morning ritual and you've built a good caffeine tolerance, then most likely you can enjoy a good cup of coffee before a run.
Let's have a closer look at types of caffeine, pros and cons of caffeine, and how it can affect your running performance.
How Does Caffeine Impact Your Performance as a Runner?
Pros of Caffeinated Running Fuels
Cons of Caffeinated Running Fuels
If not consumed in moderation, caffeinated fuel can wreak havoc on your run.
These are the main signs you’ve consumed more caffeine than you can tolerate:
In simple words, caffeine overdose it's when: "OMG I can't calm down!"
That's why you should be careful and avoid experimenting with gels and drinks that contain a large amount of caffeine on the day of an important race.
Best Time to Drink Coffee
Caffeine level pick in your system is 60-90 min after consumption.
So, if you are searching for a little boost, you can have coffee 45-60 minutes before a workout, so that it kicks in right when you get started.
Having caffeine in your fuel pack will also give you that boost to let you to the second half of your race which is another reason to begin fueling 45 to 60 minutes into your run for anything lasting over 90 minutes.
What Are the Different Sources of Caffeine?
Nowadays, you can consume caffeine not only from tea or coffee, but it is also available and easily accessible in absolutely different forms.
Just a few examples of common caffeine sources:
Snacks and drinks designed to boost the endurance and long-distance race performance:
My Favorite Running Fuels
Should you Take Gels and Other Fuels Containing Caffeine?
I'm not for or against caffeinated gels and other fuel. If you're searching for some ways to get a pick-me-up during the long run, a gel with caffeine may help you. However, like any other product, you should consume it with moderation.
Also, it is a very individual thing, you should try it yourself to see whether this type of energy snacks works for you. And most importantly, you should not rely a lot on caffeine-based gels, beans, energy drinks, etc for a pick-me-up.
Your running performance also depends on other factors, such as training consistency, types of running workouts you utilize, diet, and your current health status. Caffeine is not a magic pill and you cannot replace regular training and healthy nutrition with it.
How Much Caffeine Do You Need to Notice Any Improvements?
All the energy-boosting products have different levels of caffeine and may help you get a quick boost of energy or negatively affect your running performance.
Make sure to check the label before consuming it. In general, caffeinated running energy snack contains between 25-100mg per serving. If you don't have caffeine tolerance, you should be careful with caffeine intake, otherwise, you may face unwanted GI issues.
If it's your first time trying caffeinated endurance fuel, start with a conservative 25mg dose and see how your body responds to it. It is more than enough to notice improvements or to understand that caffeinated energy gel or bar is not the best option for you.
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