Coffee, energy shots, energy drinks, sodas, tea…the list of products with caffeine is pretty close to infinite at this point. The question for runners is how caffeine affects our training and our race day performance. Is it a useful stimulant that can improve your running experience? Does it actually work to keep fatigue at bay?
The consensus is that caffeine can positively impact athletic performance in many ways. The stimulant increases the production of both dopamine and adrenaline, which can affect performance in runners by increasing endurance and attentiveness. Research has also confirmed that caffeine can:
- Increase the strength of muscle contractions and the amount of work performed during exercise
- Cause the muscles to use fat – not glycogen stores – as fuel, which increases stamina
- Release calcium stored within muscles, which increases speed and aids endurance
- Make you feel that you aren’t working as hard, so you can run longer without feeling exhausted
Should all runners consume caffeine before and during their runs? Not necessarily. Every runner will have a different opinion about how caffeine affects their performance and how they feel with caffeine in their system. Caffeine can cause headaches, intestinal distress and good old fashioned jitteriness for runners who aren’t used to it. And of course, runners with heart conditions or high blood pressure may be told by their doctor to stay away from caffeine.
If you find that caffeine improves your performance, you can get your fix in many of the nutritional products we carry at the ‘House. For easy reference, here’s a complete list of the gels, bars and chews we carry that contain caffeine. For reference, a cup of coffee typically contains about 100mg of caffeine.
2nd Surge Ultra Energy Gel (100mg caffeine)
Clif Shot Energy Gel (0-100mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Hammer Gel (0-50mg caffeine depending on flavor)
PowerBar Gel (0-50mg caffeine depending on flavor)
GU Energy Gel (0-40mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Accel Gel (0-40mg caffeine depending on flavor)
GU Roctane Energy Gel (0-35mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Honey Stinger Classic Energy Gel (0-32mg caffeine depending on flavor)
VFuel (10mg caffeine)
PowerBar Gel Blasts (0-75mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Jelly Belly Extreme Sport Beans (50mg caffeine)
Clif Shot Bloks (0-50mg caffeine depending on flavor)
GU Chomps (0-40mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Honey Stinger Energy Chews (0-32mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Hammer Perpetuem Solids (0-10mg caffeine depending on flavor)
Clif Bar (0-50mg caffeine depending on flavor)
What do you think? Does caffeine enhance your running performance? Do you have a favorite way of getting your caffeine?