Improve Your Running With Caffeine...
At PATH projects we often look at ways to improve our running performance in training and racing. Besides our running gear, we also focus on optimizing our nutrition and hydration.
Andy Blow, founder of Precision Fuel & Hydration, wrote a fascinating guest post about specific strategies to use caffeine to boost performance. Over to Andy...
For races or hard training sessions lasting less than about 3 hours, most of the benefits of caffeine can be gained by taking it before starting. This is because caffeine takes around 45-60 minutes to be absorbed and peak in the bloodstream, so it’s a good idea to pre-caffeinate around an hour before the start so it’s maximally effective just after you start.
A dose of 3-6mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight (1.4-2.7mg/lb) is considered to be optimal for most people and for a runner of ~70kg (~155lbs) this equates to 210-420mg of caffeine. This is in the region of what you can get in 2-3 strong cups of coffee, although taking it in the form of caffeine pills or other similarly dosed supplements makes for a more accurate level of consumption.
Taking caffeine during longer races can also be a good idea in addition to pre-caffeinating before the start as it has a ‘half-life’ (i.e. the time it takes for 50% of it to be metabolized away) of about 3-6 hours. Energy gels such as the PF 30 Caffeine Gel are a simple and accurate way to top caffeine levels up during a race.
It’s important to remember that the caffeine will take up to an hour to become maximally effective though, so don’t leave it too late into the race before taking it in. A caffeine gel in the last 15-20 minutes will help you more at the after-party than during the race itself!
As much as caffeine is generally considered to be beneficial for endurance athletes, there are some people for whom using it doesn’t make sense. For more on that specific topic and to help figure out if you’re likely to be someone who will benefit from using it, this article is worth a look.
At PATH projects we have tested, trained and raced with Precision Fuel & Hydration gels, with caffeine and without caffeine. These gels are easy to open, taste great, (not too sweet) and go down easy, even without drinking water. Plus the fit easily in any of our PATH short pockets for easy access.
Floris Gierman from PATH typically starts his marathons or ultra races with gels without caffeine and after a few hours starts adding in a gel with caffeine to stay alert and limit sensation of fatigue.
Thank you Andy for sharing your thoughts on this topic!
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