Caffeine — is it good or bad for runners?

As I started training for my first Dopey Challenge attempt, the coach (a non-coffee drinker) discouraged us from drinking our morning coffee before heading out for our run. Since we were training by heart rate almost exclusively and caffeine increases your heart rate, doing so would give us inconsistent results.

Let’s add to that the fact that in order to effectively get consistent heart rate data, our runs had to be early in the morning (before sunrise on many days) in order to beat the heat that came with the sunrise.

None of this appealed to me. I did it…but I sure didn’t like it.

You see, what I’ve always loved before a run is to sit for a few minutes with my coffee and read, do Bible Study, or even just check in with social media. After the coffee takes effect, I am ready to lace up and get out the door for a few miles.

The lack of caffeine and early mornings were a struggle for me, and ultimately it did not work. That is no fault of the training philosophy (which is quite sound), it just meant it wasn’t a method sustainable for me.

Fast forward to this morning (and every morning since Dopey, and every morning ever, forever)…I get up early, drink a cup of two of coffee, stretch into my day (sometimes literally), and head out for my morning run.

I love coffee. Don’t know if that was obvious. Don’t take my coffee from me. It helps me focus, get’s me going, and according to Coach Jeff over at Runners Connect, I’m doing my running a lot of good, too.

While my caffeine intake fluctuates depending on what is going on in my world, I try to stick to caffeine only in the morning. I love a soda every once in a while, but I have found that too much of it has a negative affect on how I feel generally speaking.  Coffee is my basic go-to in the morning, but I don’t do much coffee drinking after that.

Some of the tips in the video bear repeating. Caffeine is good, and even increases performance when taken in moderation, but too much messes with our heart rate and affects our sleep. Also, be careful not to drink too much caffeine within 6 hours of your bedtime, or you will risk affecting your sleep (recovery time). For more great information, please check out this Runner’s World article, 5 Truths about Running and Caffeine

What do you think, though? Do you enjoy a cup of coffee before you head out for your run? Please let me know in the comments!