The truth about caffeine and running

Yesterday, Sunday 20th May, we ran the Ghent City Run, and for the very first time we tried caffeine supplementation. Some of our friends strongly advised us against due to our already high energy levels without caffeine intake, but we decided to go for it based on the scientific proof of its effect for athletes.

Caffeine occupies a unique position in the sports world as it is an accepted drug component of the sports diet and training of many athletes throughout the world. Caffeine is a trimethylxanthine drug that has no nutritional value, but it has been shown to have a potent 'work-enhancing' or 'ergogenic' effect (enhancing physical performance) in many sportive situations.

The use of caffeine as an ergogenic aid has entered a new era for a number of reasons:

  1. Caffeine is a legal supplement, being removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited or controlled list of substances in 2004.

  2. Low to normal doses taken during the course of daily life have a scientifically proven positive effect on overall performance.

  3. The ergogenic benefits of low caffeine doses are due to its effects on the central nervous system (CNS).

  4. The strong laboratory-based evidence of the positive caffeine effects in running and cycling studies have been extended to recreational and sub-elite level subjects.

For a very long time it was thought that caffeine led to dehydration, but recent studies have confirmed this is not true. Instead, when caffeine is consumed you'll probably feel a more urgent need to urinate quicker compared to when you wouldn't consume caffeine. Although, the volume of urine is exactly the same for caffeine consumers versus non-caffeine consumers.

Dose-response caffeine studies demonstrate that low doses of caffeine (minus 3mg per kg of body weight) ingested about 0.5h to 1h before exercise were just as effective to improve endurance performance as moderate to high doses.

So, we did the test. During the Ghent City Run, 30min before its start, we took a "6d Caffeine Chewing Gum", to find out whether caffeine could work for us. The stimulating effects of caffeine delivered in the form of a chewing gum occur more quickly than when caffeine is ingested via capsules or tablets. Chewing ensures caffeine is absorbed directly via the lining of the mouth (oral mucosa). There is a notable performance boost within the first 15-20 minutes after consumption and a performance peak between 45 - 90 minutes. A “6d Caffeine Chewing Gum” contains 50 mg of fast-release caffeine. This is similar to the caffeine content of a cup of coffee, which contains in between 40 to 150 mg per 125 ml, and similar to tea, which contains 30 to 50 mg per 125ml.

We ran our 10 km Ghent City Run at a pace of 5:30min/km and finished just under 55 minutes, which is a really good speed for us especially given the heat of the day. So, we'll keep using the 6d Caffeine Chewing Gums. For longer runs during which continued caffeine effect is desired,we could even schedule a second caffeine intake after each hour of running.

We live for the energy!

42 views0 comments