You only have to be in a room with Tess for 4.3 seconds before it become clear that she’s addicted to two things: running and the world’s most popular psychoactive drug. No, not Ryan Gosling – caffeine. Tess, one of our GEC educators and a marathoner extraordinaire, tells us why she believes in a good hit of caffeine before an intense workout.
caffeine: the wonder drug
Known in the chemistry world as trimethylxanthine coffeine theine mateine guaranine methyltheobromine (phew!), caffeine can lend a hand to help you get through some of your most gruelling workouts. It acts as a stimulant to increase your muscle reaction time and cognitive reflexes. Research has shown that caffeine can delay fatigue, reduce muscle pain during exercise, and lower your ‘perceived exertion’ making workouts feel easier. In addition to that, other research shows that having caffeine in your post workout recovery drink can help rebuild your glycogen levels faster than one without it. So, faster muscles, thinking and recovery? I’ll take it!
methods of intake
While there is no faster way to my heart than a strong double Americano with cream, I avoid firing up the percolator before I run. The combination of acidity and dairy can leave me feeling a little out of sorts, so I prefer to get my fix through gels. Each gel contains around 20 – 40mg of caffeine (roughly the equivalent to 1/5 of a cup of coffee) and acts as the perfect pick me up. I usually take my first gel 45 minutes into my run and then every 30 minutes after. My personal favourites are Vanilla Bean and of course, Espresso Love by Gu. Post-workout, I treat myself to that double Americano we talked about.
There is a common misconception that caffeine dehydrates you faster than a package of beef jerky with a salt lick chaser. You actually need close to 550mg – about five cups of coffee worth - to affect your hydration levels. As long as you’re taking in electrolytes and some good old H2O, you should be able to caffeinate without a problem.
If you’re just like Tess (who identifies herself as a dedicated caffeine enthusiast) she strongly suggests finding a way to incorporate it into your workouts. Are you a caffeine exercise devotee too?
- coffee fuels our workouts and our work: check out our office coffee taste test
- running out of steam? Get a new fueling strategy
- try our post-run energizer: the green smoothie