The world’s most widely used drug can be beneficial for runners.
Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. Despite the negative connotations of the word drug, however, caffeine is by and large a benign and even beneficial substance for humans. “Acute caffeine consumption”—the scientific term for drinking a cup of coffee—has been shown to enhance mental alertness and mood state and is also known to boost athletic performance. “Chronic caffeine consumption”—the scientific term for drinking a cup of coffee every morning—has been associated with a reduced risk for a number of disorders including type 2 diabetes, gallstones, and Parkinson’s disease. Not too shabby.
While moderate caffeine consumption is deemed best, even fairly high levels of regular caffeine use are not associated with any significant health risks. That said, it certainly is possible to consume too much caffeine, and some caffeine-sensitive individuals react poorly to even small amounts of the stimulant. But the bottom line is that caffeine can be boon to the runner before, during, and even after a workout or race. Here’s how: