The truth about your cuppa – how caffeine can impact performance

We all love a cup of joe in the morning, to wake us up and get us ready for the day ahead. However, coffee, or more specifically caffeine, can affect people in both positive and negative ways, so it’s important to do your homework before adding it to your running diet.

Coffee as we all know helps boost energy levels and especially for a 5km run on a cold December morning it may give you that extra pep you need to run a PB or keep pace with your running buddy. When you drink coffee your body produces more dopamine which spikes your energy levels and can improve your mood, concentration levels and overall mental function. Another benefit is it’s believed to increase metabolism levels by up to 11%, although the effects are not as marked in long-time coffee drinkers whose tolerance might be higher.

While a good old espresso does have its pros, there are some cons that are worth being mindful of. Coffee is a diuretic, causing you to want to use the bathroom more frequently, which can lead to dehydration. If you’re drinking coffee, it’s important to supplement that with water to ensure you’re not losing fluids which can make you sluggish and be detrimental to your health if you’re not careful.

Another one to watch out for is caffeine addiction – yes, it’s a real thing! The more caffeine we have, the more we need in order to reap the initial benefits as our tolerance increases. This can lead to caffeine dependence and without our regular caffeine hit, we could suffer from headaches and fatigue directly impacting our running.

And lastly, it’s worth noting that caffeine increases your heart rate, so if you’re already prone to high blood pressure, or have an existing heart condition then it’s important to limit your caffeine intake.

By no means are we saying, ‘put down the coffee cup’, but rather – keep an eye on how much you’re drinking and how it’s impacting your running. While it depends on the individual, a safe amount of caffeine is generally around 400mg per day for healthy adults, just enough to give you a spring in your step and avoid all the negative effects mentioned above.Tell us how caffeine affects you and any tips you might have on coffee-drinking pre or post run in the comments below.