Some people need their caffeine fix to keep themselves up and alert. But since it causes dehydration and stimulates urine production, athletes were advised against drinking coffee before training and competing. The substance would just disrupt their workout and lower their performance level, right?
Wrong. Apparently the world’s leading distance runners make coffee a part of their pre-race prep. Mo Farah revealed in his autobiography Twin Ambitions that 20 minutes before he races, he drinks coffee. “As I walk onto the stadium track, I feel this massive caffeine high.”
When athletes drink coffee or chew caffeinated energy gels, it’s not to be more alert. It’s to enhance their endurance as they go along the middle and latter portions of a marathon. Triathlete Sarah Piampiano says, “As you get further into the marathon, your energy supplies are depleted and you just really start suffering; that’s why I start increasing the amount of caffeine I take.” For her, caffeine is an “essential tool” for races. Her statement is plausible because caffeine targets the brain, which is the organ that tells the body it is fatigued. Once the body is told, the person begins to slow down. Caffeine overrides all that.
But what about the dehydration and the urge to pee we get from drinking coffee? New research found that those are the effects only when the coffee drinker is resting. It’s not at all the case when the person is or will be active.
Scientists, though, have yet to explain why reactions are different for the sedentary and the active.
This is pretty good news if you’re looking to boosting your performance and training harder. But be sure not to take in too much caffeine so your heart rate won’t increase beyond what’s necessary. You still have to find out how much caffeine works for you, since we all metabolize and react to it differently.