The Impact Of Coffee On Long Distance Running

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By Sarah Jones

As a professional runner, you need endurance and stamina to cross the finish line. However, sometimes crossing the line doesn’t necessarily come with rewards and compliments. And that’s when you need to win. Coffee is a secret gem for you as a runner; for many it’s already a part of their morning routine and it helps them on race day even more than they knew. It has several nutritional benefits geared towards making your proverbial biceps flex harder. The best part is that unlike most energy boosters, you’ll never have to deal with any side effects (relatively speaking). Let me enlighten you.

Best Time To Drink Your Coffee

First and foremost, to get the best out of your cup of coffee, consume at least one hour before your race begins. Just to let you know, you won’t be the first one. Studies have proven that ever since the anti-doping agency dropped caffeine from their list of banned substances, three out of four athletes consume coffee before a race. Maybe you’ve always wondered how the older folks in the race keep running without breaking a sweat, now you know.

The Actual Impact Of Coffee In Your Body

I’m certain you’ve noticed that most energy drinks are caffeinated. Ever paused to ask why? Coffee has a vast impact on your skeletal muscles. And you don’t have to take my word for it, research by Dirks-Naylor AJ. has proven beyond reasonable doubt. So what exactly does coffee do in your body?

First of all, coffee stimulates the intake of glucose in your body. Going back to basic biology, our body cells need plenty of glucose for energy. Being able to absorb as much glucose as possible ensures that your body cells remain energized. Overall, your muscles gain strength and maintain that throughout the race.

Secondly, coffee is rich in antioxidants that are extremely useful in your body. They boost your immunity, and protect your skin among several other benefits. The most important for you as a runner is that your injured muscles get to regenerate faster when you consume coffee.

Another major benefit of coffee in your body as a runner is that it induces autophagy. Think of it this way; within and after every race, your body cells either get damaged or die. It’s only fair that you hasten the process of “burying” these dead cells to give room for the growth of new, young, and vibrant ones. This is what we refer to as autophagy, and coffee does a pretty good job at it.

Ever heard of the term sarcopenia? In layman’s language, this is an aging process which results in loss of muscle strength. According to IOF international, your muscles not only decrease in mass, but they also lose function and strength. Sadly, we can never stop this process. The good news is, coffee does slow down the progression of sarcopenia. So now you can run for a much longer time before old age catches up with you.

Finally, coffee keeps your insulin levels in check. Research by Dirks-Naylor AJ shows that people who consume coffee regularly have a higher insulin sensitivity. Insulin is directly proportional to your glucose level which implies more energy for you.

How Much Should You Drink?

Ideally, for every 2.3lbs of body weight (1kg), you should drink 5mg of coffee. That means if you weigh 150 lb (68 kg), you should drink 16 oz of brewed coffee. That amounts to around 340mg of coffee. The math may vary depending on how strong you brew your coffee. On that note, you should consider investing in a good coffee maker and some appliances- homemade coffee lets you have control over how much you consume.

Ultimately, coffee really is a hidden gem for most long distance runners. From the reasons above, I’m sure you can clearly see why. So what are you waiting for? Grab that cup of coffee and head on for the race. I wish you all the best.

Bio: Sarah is the editor of Coffee obsessed, she is always writing or learning new things about it. She loves to travel, partly to learn about coffee culture around the world, and of course to indulge in it as much as possible.

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