Friday, January 23, 2009

Good to the Last Drop!

A buddy of mine swears the cup-a-Joe he downs before running helps his performance. I too am a coffee aficionado and you probably wouldn't want to be around me before I've had my morning cup. So I did a little digging into coffee and running. Turns out my buddy, Gary, is a pretty smart dude.

I came across a Running Times article that shares a couple different theories on the subject. Some experts believe that caffeine improves endurance by increasing the enzyme activity for fat metabolism. By using more fat, a long-distance runner's glycogen stores last longer allowing him/her to run farther. But caffeine also seems to help runners of shorter distances. So what's the deal? Other experts credit the enhanced performance on caffeine's stimulation of the central nervous system, which increases alertness and concentration. Some cool studies have shown that stimulation of the central nervous system can effect the perception of effort, so drinking that cup of coffee may make a given pace seem easier than a on day you didn't have your java infusion.
But coffee is a diuretic, right? So should we be concerned about dehydration? Caffeine can cause dehydration, but guess what? Research shows that caffeine is less of a diuretic in people who drink caffeinated beverages on a regular basis. Wee Doggie!!

The experts do warn, however that you should only consider using caffeine if you're already in good shape, eat a good diet, and don't have any medical problems such as high blood pressure.

My digging also opened my eyes to the world of coffee-house running groups. My running group, the BlueLiners, tops-off its weekly long run by meeting for bagels and coffee and evidently other groups all over the country do too. The Joe Coffee Running Team , the Washington Running Club, the Mebane Running Club, and the Tucson Grinders, are just a few of the many groups across the country that begin or end their group runs at a coffee house.

No comments: