Should I Drink Coffee Before a Run?

Do you think that having a coffee before a run is a good idea? This can work for some, but others can experience heartburn and other related problems. If you can tolerate coffee and you need this beverage to get into the swing of things in the morning, then you should not worry. There are a couple of things that you should consider before a run.

Drinking a cup of coffee before a run, or a running race has a positive effect. Caffeine is often the preferred pre-workout supplement. Something important to note, one study found that two-thirds of athletes use caffeine to increase their physical performance.

Pros and Cons – Should I Drink Coffee Before a Run?


Please consider the table below when it comes to consuming coffee before a run (or any physical activity).

The ProsThe Cons
Improved Mental AlertnessGastrointestinal Distress
Decreased Perception of EffortMay Cause headaches
May Boost Fat UtilizationMay Cause Jitters
May Increase PaceIncreased Urination
Dry mouth and increased thickness in Saliva

The Benefits of drinking coffee before a Jog

Caffeine today, is easily accessible and comes in an array of forms. To name a few…

  • Coffee
  • Soft drinks
  • Energy drinks and
  • Caffeine powder
  • Gels

Caffeine is found in coffee and has been studied in great length. There have been a lot of positive findings.

Studies have shown that consuming caffeine before a run has proven to have performance-enhancing and endurance-enhancing effects. This may happen to some athletes because the caffeine effect is known to decrease the perception of effort as the body is performing better than usual. If an individual can sense that like he/she is not working as hard, as usual, he/she may be able to sustain the effort shown for a longer period of time.

The effect of caffeine may also help you run faster. To note, a small study found that caffeine intake helped well-trained runners run faster during their standard 5km race. The race times in general only improved by about 1%. However, 1% can mean a lot to most runners and they will be willing to make any gains necessary to improve on their finish time.

According to another study, research shows that caffeine boosts your mental alertness, puts you in a much better mood, and boosts your desire to run at your peak. As a side note, anyone that drinks coffee knows the caffeine kick we get, helping us get into the right mind frame and get our body moving in the morning.

The negative effects of drinking coffee before exercise

Like most performance enhancing drugs, using caffeine does have its drawbacks.

Caffeine is a diuretic, giving us the urge to use the bathroom, and increases both the frequency and urgency to urinate. For runners, this can be rather problematic. Some runs often take place in areas where there are not any bathrooms available. If you have ever had the opportunity of doing a running race, you will notice the available bathrooms will always be full of people. The caffeine effects are kicking in from their morning coffee.

You may also experience other stomach related issues when having coffee before a run. The caffeine in coffee has a laxative potential and the ability to create gastrointestinal issues. This means, in some people, not only will it want to make you go to the bathroom, but it can also force you to go there and then. Caffeine along with the pre-run jitters can cause diarrhoea.

There are a hand full of people that are hypersensitive to caffeine. Drinking coffee can cause these individuals to have headaches and uncontrollable muscle twitches. Under these circumstances, running may become uncomfortable.

Caffeine also causes dehydration. This means that you will sweat less. The body will start to direct essential fluids to where necessary as they have become limited. This means your salvia glands stop working normally and you may not sweat as much. This leaves you with dry mouth and thick saliva. Since you are not sweating properly your body will begin to overheat. Often runners feel as if they are overheating due to too many cups of coffee before a race.

Lots of studies have shown the benefits of caffeine on individual running performance. However, the results are small, and many cross-referenced studies have not been consistent in their findings.

Bottom line

Caffeine may boost anaerobic performance in some, but not all runners. The effects differ from person to person. Be safe when experimenting when using caffeine before a run.

When should I have my coffee before, I run? If you enjoy running in the morning, there is no doubt you will make yourself a cup of coffee before you get dressed for your run. At times, runners will consume caffeine before, during and after their run and here is why…

Having Caffeine before exercise

Due to its benefits, caffeine consumption often takes place before a run. It is important to note that it can be ingested during a run as well. Different studies have recommended different amounts to consume.

The recommended caffeine dosage ranged from 3 to 7 milligrams of caffeine for every kilogram of body weight. Most running sources site 5mg/kg as the recommended dosage.

Should you start experimenting with caffeine be sure to start off slow. Start taking doses of 2-3mg of caffeine per kg of body weight. Should you require more caffeine, up the dosage. It is important to note that taking more than 7mg/kg is NOT recommended.

For the average male. If you weigh about 70 kilograms your recommended caffeine dosage would sit at roughly 360mg of caffeine. It is important to note that one cup of coffee contains roughly 80-110mg of coffee. That means you would have to drink roughly over 3 cups of coffee to get your dose.

For the average female. If you weigh about 56 kilograms your recommended caffeine dosage would roughly sit about 280mg of coffee. So, a female runner looking to get her caffeine running fix would look to drink just over 2 cups of coffee.

Most researched sources state that the timing of your caffeine intake is not an issue. A person can drink coffee an hour before a run and still enjoy the benefits of caffeine. The effects of caffeine last for hours so you do not have to drink coffee just before your run.

To find the best dose of caffeine and timing for you, start at the lowest recommended amount and see how your body responds. Since caffeine will dehydrate you, remember to drink a lot of water. Do not try anything on race days. Experts recommend experimenting with your caffeine intake on training days so as not to spoil your race.

Consuming caffeine during a run

Some runners like to consume their caffeine before the race, others, however, feel its best to delay their caffeine intake until they are in their race. This means that their body’s metabolism will be raised during exercise and they will experience the benefits of caffeine almost instantaneously. There are many forms of race caffeine, such as Coca-Cola (which is often given to runners during a race), race gels or chews.

Be wise and often check the packaging on the sports nutrition to see the amount of caffeine you are consuming. Many products contain multiple additional supplements such as amino acids, sodium, and sources of quick energy like fructose.

Caffeine energy gels are absorbed into the body very quickly. An individual can almost instantly feel the effects during a race.

Caffeine After Running

Caffeine as a drug has the property of increasing your metabolism. This means that after you exercise your body will still be burning calories. This often proves beneficial to many that are trying to lose weight and stay in shape.

Since your body is active, it can lead to faster muscle recovery. The caffeine will also give you the mental alertness of coffee for the runners who train in the morning and then need to go off to work and focus on their job later in the day.

Coffee Nutrition tips – Coffee Before a Run

How a person intakes caffeine can have an impact on your running performance and body weight. A single cup of black coffee provides almost zero calories and has no nutrients, except for 5mg of sodium and 116mg of potassium.

What coffee does do is increase the body’s metabolism. This in effect, makes you burn more calories than your intake. Black coffee is a calorie negative drink. This means it burns more calories than it provides (this is only referring to black coffee). When sugar, milk or cream have been added the beverage, it changes from being a calorie negative to a calorie surplus drink.

For example, if you add two tablespoons of cream to your coffee, you will add over 100 calories to the drink. 11 grams of that would be saturated fat. If you teaspoon sugar into your coffee, you will increase the calorie count by about 20 calories per spoonful.

A good tip would be to consume black coffee before a run! Eliminating dairy will decrease your chances of stomach discomfort. If you are also looking to lose weight, have your coffee black with no sugar, cream or milk as this will add extra calories to the beverage.

Myths about coffee and exercise

A lot of people today think that they can replace their caffeine intake with training. “If I don’t train as a runner, I can have a strong cup of coffee and I’ll be fine.”  This is a big myth. No amount of caffeine can replace true and honest training. Hard work will always pay off at the end.

Some runners too feel that more caffeine is better. This is certainly not the case because consuming too much caffeine can cause shakiness and nervousness that may detract you from focusing properly during your run.

Consuming too much caffeine can prove to be problematic. If a person drinks large amounts of coffee before every training or running session, your body is likely to adapt to the caffeine intake. This means that on race day you are less likely to feel the effects of caffeine when you specifically need it.

Conclusion – Coffee Before a Run?

Try not to experiment with coffee and caffeine before a running race. If you want to experience the effects of coffee and caffeine, you should first try it during some of your practice runs. If you start to experience some discomfort, discontinue your use. Since caffeine can cause dehydration, be sure to drink plenty of water. Have a constant supply of water when running.

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