This week's training tip is inspired by those running the Las Vegas Marathon or Half Marathon on December 6th - Race with a Buzz!
Many people struggle to get through the day without that cup of coffee or energy drink. Whether it gets them out of bed in the morning or through that afternoon lull, caffeine provides the fix millions of Americans crave!
Conveniently enough, caffeine also provides benefits during endurance exercise. The proper amount of caffeine can improve performance by decreasing central nervous system (mental) fatigue and increasing breakdown of fat in the muscles (both beneficial in the latter stages of a race). Endurance athletes adapt to training by actually increasing stored fat deep inside the muscles (intramuscular triglyceride) which is broken down for energy use. 25-50mg/hour of caffeine (the amount in caffeinated gels, blocks, or a custom sports drink like Infinit Nutrition) facilitates that breakdown, thereby increasing performance, since fat is a very efficient fuel source. Starbucks will not likely sponsor an aid station anytime soon, however, as a grande (16oz) coffee contains an astronomical 330 mg of caffeine! As with all aspects of your nutrition, though, try caffeine supplementation, along with plenty of fluids, during your training to understand and feel how your body responds to it. Good luck if you are racing this weekend and may the buzz be with you!
Justin Robinson, MA,RD,CSSD,FAFS,CSCS
Director of Strength & Conditioning - RU Sports Performance Center