Synonymous with the morning ‘pick-me-up’, caffeine was once a restricted substance for athletes – thought to cause dehydration. However, recent research shows a shot of caffeine might actually help you nail that race-time!
Caffeine actually has various hidden endurance benefits – so much so that many of the world’s athletes include it as a vital part of their pre-race preparations.
It fights fatigue
Research also shows that caffeine boosts your mental alertness, improves your mood, and boosts your desire to run hard. Caffeine is rapidly absorbed into the brain – it’s likely that its direct effect on the central nervous system may actually alter your body’s perception levels of effort, pain and fatigue.
How to use caffeine
Pre-run caffeine has been shown to enhance performance and endurance. One study found more than two-thirds of Olympic athletes use caffeine to increase their performance. 75mg (roughly the same as a 250ml Red Bull Energy Drink) is considered a reasonable dose for events shorter than 90 minutes. Take the total dose beforehand to get the benefits.
For marathons or ultra-runs, runners are advised to save the caffeine for when they need it most and consume caffeine on the run by ingesting caffeinated chews or gels.
Watch out for…
If you’re doing a race of 10km or longer, don’t consume more than 200mg of caffeine (about 2 cups of coffee). Experts believe too much caffeine may increase risk of cardiac events while running.