Saturday, April 6, 2013

How Coffee Can Help and Hurt Runners

I've been a runner for 10 years, but I've only been running long distances for about a year now. While I used to run 3-4 miles a few times a week just to keep in shape, now I usually run 25-30 miles a week, and sometimes I even fit in a 10 miler before work in the mornings.

That being said, my coffee and food consumption has sky rocketed lately. While it's not encouraged by the running community, my go-to food before a run is cake. Yes, cake. It's high in calories and that sugar boost is exactly what I need to go my fastest.

Most runners prefer to get that boost from caffeine right before a run. There are many different views on if caffeine can enhance sport performance, and while I am no expert, from what I have read and experienced, caffeine can definitely help push you through to the finish line. Most runners and running magazines agree and encourage caffeine consumption, telling readers to go ahead and enjoy that cup of coffee. However, what irritates me is that while these articles encourage runners to drink coffee, they do no warn against the risk of dehydration.

When I drink coffee, I almost instantly need water. Whether this is my mouth thinking I need water or my body asking for it, I do not know. While caffeine is indeed a diuretic, new studies show that caffeine is less dehydrating then it was thought to be years ago. According to Runners World, it is understood that a person can have 550 mg of caffeine (5 cups of coffee) without it affecting hydration levels. In the end, my advice is the same you will read all over the web. Do your homework, understand different foods and drinks, but above all know you body and what works best for it. If coffee gives you a boost in your run, make sure to know how your body responds and be aware of the possibility of quicker dehydration.

Interestingly enough, I actually prefer to have a cup of coffee after my run, both to keep me awake and productive for the rest of the day and because it makes me feel better. I never really thought about why it makes me feel better until writing this post, so I did some research and discovered the Runner's World article I mentioned above that says there are new studies showing consuming caffeine after working out can help runners recover.

Runners know they need carbs postrun to rebuild their glycogen stores, but a recent study suggests caffeine may also enhance recovery. Cyclists rode hard for two consecutive days to drain their glycogen stores. They then drank a carb beverage with or without caffeine. Researchers found that having a drink with caffeine rebuilds glycogen stores 66 percent more than a carb-only drink.

Click HERE to link to the article to learn more and make sure to tweet me @DCoffeeSnob if running has caused a change in your coffee consumption.


  1. I read the same article and rejoiced! haha. Any evidence that proves drinking coffee is good for the body is good in my book! :)

  2. You make some excellent points here. Coffee is my go-to performance enhancer (pre and post workouts) but I always crave water afterwards. The most important lesson is to set aside the latest research and listen to your body. Cool blog btw.


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