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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Will caffeine help me run faster?

It will certainly make you 'feel' like you can run faster. Be careful with coffee and other caffeinated products. -Nate
A few years ago it was popular for runners to drink a cup of coffee before a race because caffeine will stimulate the release of fatty acids into the bloodstream. The athletes were counting on using the fatty acids for fuel, rather than glucose, "saving" the glucose for later in the race when it might give them a second wind. There is also a study based on athletes who were given 330 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent to two to three strong cups of coffee or seven caffeinated soft drinks) one hour before exercising. The athletes were able to perform moderate aerobic activity 15 minutes longer than their "decaffeinated" control group.
330 milligrams of caffeine is a lot of caffeine. For most people, the adverse effects of consuming that much caffeine would far outweigh the possibility of enhanced performance. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and can cause headaches, insomnia, and abnormal heart rhythms. It contributes to irritability--the last thing you need if you already have pre-race jitters. And, the effects on the colon combined with irritability often results in diarrhea.
Caffeine is also a diuretic--the description for drugs that promote water loss from the body. Having to step behind a tree in the middle of a race increases race time as much as the fatty acids released by the caffeine may decrease it.
A cup of coffee contains approximately 50 to 150 milligrams of caffeine, tea about 10 to 50 milligrams, and caffeinated soft drinks about 50 milligrams. It's also hidden in chocolate and many over the counter prescription drugs.
Caffeine may increase your endurance but it doesn't make you run faster. Bottom line is the negative effects of its use far outweigh the positive so you're better off to make water your pre-game beverage.

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