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Runners: Coffee Up!

That Cup of Coffee Does More Than You Think for Your Running

Welcome back to another edition of Run R2P! Today, we’re about to dive into a topic that might just give you the extra boost you’ve been looking for in your runs. A cup of coffee or some type of caffeine is an essential part of many individuals’ morning routines. I know I hardly need convincing to indulge in a cup of coffee. But did you know that your daily caffeine fix can actually do more than just wake you up? You might already know that caffeine can help improve focus and increase alertness, but it can also improve your running performance. This is the reason its included the various energy gel packets marketed toward endurance athletes.

Ergogenic Aid for Aerobic Performance

Studies have shown that caffeine acts as an ergogenic aid, meaning it can enhance your physical performance – particularly in aerobic exercises like running. Typical results include delayed onset of fatigue and overall enhanced endurance.  The proposed mechanism of why caffeine is helpful in physical exercise involves its effect on the cardiovascular-pulmonary system. Increased heart rate and breathing rate could lead to more effective delivery of oxygen to exercising muscles and delay fatigue. The end result? Your endurance and overall running performance can get a significant boost.

Optimal Dosage and Timing

We’ve talked about the benefits, now let’s talk about how much caffeine and what timing is optimal. The optimal dosage can vary from person to person, but most studies suggest that consuming around 3-6 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight – about 1.5 to 3 cups of brewed coffee for a 150-pound individual – can lead to performance improvements. As for timing, it’s best to consume caffeine about 30-60 minutes before your run to allow it to kick in when you need it the most.

Personalize Your Approach

Of course, like any performance-enhancing strategy, it’s essential to personalize your approach. Experiment with different timings and dosages before and during your training runs, not on race day, to see what works best for your body. Keep in mind that while caffeine can provide a noticeable boost, it’s not a substitute for proper training, nutrition, and recovery. This may lead to caffeine abuse and you may experience some of the deleterious effects of excessive caffeine consumption (especially if you have a history of anxiety). 

A Few Words of Caution

While caffeine can be a great addition to your running toolkit, it’s crucial to use it wisely. Too much caffeine can lead to jitters, digestive discomfort, and even insomnia. Plus, your body can build up a tolerance over time, so it’s a good idea to use caffeine strategically rather than relying on it every single day. 

The Finish Line

Consider strategically adding a cup of coffee to boost your running performance through greater energy and delayed fatigue. Keep in mind some of the downsides of excessive caffeine consumption. So, here’s to coffee! Not only can it give us the boost we need to start our daily routine, but it can also help us to push harder and experience greater success in our running journey. 

Keep running strong!, Dr. Greg.

Looking for more guides, templates, and support along your Running Journey? Check out and work with Dr. Greg on our online platform, R2P+ . Get Started Now!

Dr. Greg Ellis PT, DPT, CSCS

Performance Physical Therapist 

Follow Greg on Instagram (HERE) for more content and to see his running progress!

Fitness Focused Physical Therapy

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