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A coffee a day keeps the grumpy away... But can it make you run faster?

Everyone knows that a cup of coffee does wonders for waking us up and keeping the bad mood away... but can it help improve your running performance?

The Science

According to recent studies, the majority of Olympic athletes use caffeine to help their performance. This can either take the form of coffee, tea or caffeine tablets like pro plus. So, what are the benefits?

Mental alertness

Caffeine improves mental alertness, motivation and your mood, perfect for those early morning starts or sessions after work when you’re a little tired! Caffeine also increases the endorphin concentration in the brain, giving you that extra runners high!

Reduced perception of effort

Caffeine helps reduce the feeling of effort when you’re running, making you feel like you aren’t working as hard. This has undoubted benefits for your mental state and can even be the difference between a PB and not a PB.

Improved aerobic capacity

One major benefit of caffeine is the increase in the body’s aerobic capacity. How does this work? It enhances the ability to burn fat as fuel, thus sparing glycogen. Not only does this mean you can run for longer due to not using glycogen until later on in the race, but fat produces a greater ATP yield, AKA giving you more energy!! A combination of these two benefits will help prolong the arrival of the notorious ‘wall’.

Neuromuscular coordination

With caffeine consumption comes a greater coordination between your brain and muscles, resulting is faster contraction speeds and increased power. Again, this results in running faster for less effort.


High in antioxidants, and best used in conjunction with carbohydrates, caffeine is believed to improve glycogen replenishing, helping you recover for the next session. Not only this, but antioxidants are the nifty little things that help keep our immune system strong and reduce post-exercise oxidative stress.

When to take caffeine before running?

Caffeine concentration peaks in the blood at around 45-75 minutes after consumption. So taking caffeine around an hour before is recommended to produce the best results, however be mindful that this varies for different people. Caffeine is also said to be a diuretic and can sometimes lead to some stomach issues, so definitely do not try it for the first time on race day!! As with many things in this sport, practice it in training before you try it on race day!

Grab a cup of coffee with the knowledge that you could well be helping your running!

Thanks, and as always, discover your potential.

Coach Callum

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