Coffee Before Running – Running on Caffeine

I will admit that when I read Mo Farah say “twenty minutes before a race I’ll normally drink some coffee” my coffee consumption before a race subtly increased. Let’s face it, that’s probably the only thing separating me from a 27:44 10k time…err. But seriously, why and how much caffeine should we consume before and during races and training? Is that coffee before running helping or hindering us?

The article ‘Caffeine Explained’ by Dr James Morton about the use and benefits of caffeine for racing – and, crucially, for training – has caught our attention. The article helpfully summarises with: “when taken at the optimal time and in the correct form and dose it can be a highly effective approach to help you train harder and run quicker.” Sounds ideal. Read a bit more about it below:

Why Should Runners Consume Caffeine?

The studies in the article suggest that caffeine acts directly on the central nervous system and that benefits runners by:

Increasing the strength and power of muscle fibres
Altering metabolism to promote fat oxidation
These mean a) your body preserves glycogen so you have stores when you need them most and b) – our fave – by reducing the perception of effort it actually makes running feel easier. As if just getting to drink coffee wasn’t enough of a reward. So now we know it’s a good thing, let’s talk practicalities…

How Much?

Quantity is key with this drug. To find your optimum amount we recommend reading the full article (link below) and doing a little maths. But the most important thing to note is that too much can actually have a negative effect on performance.

What Form Of Caffeine And When?

Different forms of caffeine can have different effects. It’s probably worth experimenting personally, but research suggests that consuming a coffee before running is beneficial when consumed  30-60 minutes before (or 20 minutes for Mo); whereas a caffeine gel will have more benefit if consumed during a race/run (ideally about 45 minutes before the moment you’re going to need it most).

Caffeine In Training

Amazing news for us morning coffee consumers, the trials suggest that those that drink coffee in the morning have an enhanced training capacity for afternoon sessions. Caffeine can also aid fasted runs when the aim is to promote fuel efficiency adaptations.

All in all I’m convinced. Read the full article – Caffeine Explained by Dr James Morton – particularly for more details on recommended quantities for your body mass and see what you think.