I have written about coffee in the past and recently came across this article written by Matt Fitzgerald for Triathlete.com that added to my knowledge and thoughts of coffee and more specifically caffeine.
Before I get into Matt’s article you can read my writings [HERE] and [HERE] Let me also say that I enjoy coffee and drink a cup of caffeinated coffee before each morning workout. After that cup is gone I switch to decaf because I love the taste of coffee and because I don’t see a need for a jolt since I am typically in hyperdrive after my endorphins are exploding following my workout.
“Acute caffeine consumption”—the scientific term for drinking a cup of coffee—has been shown to enhance mental alertness and mood state and is also known to boost athletic performance. “Chronic caffeine consumption”—the scientific term for drinking a cup of coffee every morning—has been associated with a reduced risk for a number of disorders including type 2 diabetes, gallstones, and Parkinson’s disease. Not too shabby.
I would label myself as a chronic caffeine consumer since I drink a cup every morning. My consumption occurs approximately two hours before my training starts so that I can get the benefits of the jolt while training and also to ensure that any issues related to my GI are gone before my training starts.
Research has shown that pre-exercise caffeine enhances performance in sprints, in all-out efforts lasting four to five minutes, and in prolonged endurance activities. In shorter events, caffeine apparently increases muscle recruitment, which ultimately boosts performance. In longer events, it delays fatigue by reducing the athlete’s perception of effort. Caffeine does this by increasing the concentration of hormone-like substances in the brain called ß-endorphins during exercise. The endorphins affect mood state, reduce the perception of pain, and create a sense of well-being.
But here’s the catch—and it’s a big one: Caffeine only aids the performance of athletes who do not habitually use caffeine. So if you are a regular coffee drinker and want to benefit from a caffeine boost, you need to cut out the caffeine for one week before a big race
I have an Olympic distance race (Austin Triathlon) coming up on Labor Day and I am going to put this notion of cutting out the caffeine for a week prior to the race to the test. My only question is that if the caffeine affects my mood will I be too much to handle between taper and no caffein? There is also a prescribed amount to drink and that amount is: 5 to 6 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. For a 150-lb person that translates to roughly 340-400 mg, or the amount of caffeine you’d get in 14 to 17 ounces of drip brewed coffee. Since I only drink approximately 8oz of caffeinated coffee in the morning I am nervous that 14 to 17 oz will cause some major GI issues.
Researchers found that the rate at which the consumed carbohydrates were burned was 26 percent higher in the cyclists receiving carbs with caffeine than in those receiving carbs without caffeine. Based on these results, athletes might want to consider consuming caffeine along with a sports drink during races or long training sessions instead of dosing up beforehand, since taking in caffeine both before and during a race or workout would be excessive and could lead to nervousness, anxiety, and stomach upset.
So now the idea of taking the caffeine in during a race as opposed to drinking coffee on the morning of race day has me questioning the notion that this caffeine could have an adverse affect on my GI during the race. My other issue is that First Endurance Liquid Shot does not have caffeine so trying to add another caffeine source is not practical. I will most likely stick to drinking my cup of coffee in the morning.
A recent study from the University of Georgia found that pre-exercise caffeine intake reduced post-exercise muscle soreness by 50 percent. This is another effect that is unlikely to be felt by regular caffeine users, however. So again, wean yourself off caffeine for one week before big races or an important marathon training run, dose up that morning, and expect to not only perform better but also to experience faster muscle recovery afterward.
This was a true eye-opener in that I always focused on and thought of caffeine from the perspective of during a training session or race and not the post race/training benefits. If your muscle soreness is truly reduced by 50 percent there is no reason to not drink coffee or take in some sort of caffeine prior. Most of us endurance athletes don’t do enough recovery since we are type A and it is all about more is better. This is a simple way to combat thought process.