The Caffeinated Runner

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Morning!  I woke up early so I could go on one last run in Orlando – for now!  (I’m sure I’ll come back and run races.)  I was feeling pretty nostalgic as I ran my 3.0-mile loop.   I wonder how many times I ran it over the last three years?


Unfortunately, it wasn’t my BEST run on that particular loop.  My legs felt like molasses and I struggled to maintain a 10:00-minute pace, averaging about 10:20 over the course of the run.  My head was totally in the game, but my legs were just NOT cooperating.


Mid-way through I realized the problem:  I was running without coffee!  Normally, I had a small snack + a cup of coffee before a morning run, but I didn’t want to wake up the Hus (we slept in the living room last night) by making a racket in the kitchen.  I was still full from dinner last night, so I sneaked out of the house not more than 20 minutes after my alarm went off.


MAN – I could FEEL the lack of coffee BIG TIME.  There’s a lot of research that suggests small amounts of caffeine (like one cup of coffee) can help your athletic performance, and I definitely believe it to be true!


Still, it was a great run:


  • Distance: 3.0 miles
  • Duration: 30:54


Came home and made a COLD breakfast for a HOT DAY!


Doesn’t look like much, but this smoothie packs quite a punch:


  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 2 cups raw spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1.5 tablespoons Vega Shake and Go
  • 1/2 cup raw oatmeal


You can put any “type” of oatmeal into smoothies, but I prefer the Quaker Old Fashioned Oats (that instant oats container is just what I use to easily serve the bulk oatmeal I buy from Costco).  Quaker is one of the Silver Sponsors for the Healthy Living Summit in August and will host an awesome OATMEAL breakfast bar!  But I don’t think smoothies are on the menu.  🙂


Off to make some iced coffee and get this show on the road.  Today is PACKING DAY.


Do you need coffee before an AM workout or does it cause *ahem* digestive issues?



  • Jocelyn June 25, 2010, 9:02 am

    I think coffee helps me before a workout! Gives me some extra pep ;);)

  • Gracie (complicated day) June 25, 2010, 9:04 am

    I have to have it before a run and it actually “normalizes” digestion. Yeah, sorry about the TMI.

  • Christina June 25, 2010, 9:05 am

    During the week, I just grab toast and peanut butter and head out the door to be at the gym by 6. On the weekends I’ll usually have a full breakfast and coffee and wait a few hours then head to the gym. My weekend cardio work outs are MUCH better. I definitely notice a difference in performance.

    p.s. I pre-ordered your book! I can’t wait to get it =D

    • caitlin June 25, 2010, 9:08 am


      • Christina June 25, 2010, 10:00 am


        I’m hoping to share it with my Mom and sister both of whom have serious body image issues. I’m working on myself by stopping fat talk and other negative ideas I get about myself. They haven’t made an effort yet, but they know I am making an effort to stop the craziness! I’m hoping to leave the book out in my apartment and have them pick it up. I can’t be too pushy with them or they think I’m ‘holier than thou’. It’s frustrating, when I just want to help! Hopefully I can show them that life doesn’t have to include fat talk and negativity. Sorry this comment just got way too long! I just want you to know you’re making a big difference.

        • caitlin June 25, 2010, 10:56 am

          Thats sounds like a wonderful idea!! Thank you for helping to make a difference in the world. If you post any notes, please email them to me!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs June 25, 2010, 9:06 am

    I’ve never had coffee before a workout- I’ve never had a mug of coffee full stop!
    😮 An oatmeal bar at the HLS??!! OMG I can’t wait now 😀

  • Ashley June 25, 2010, 9:06 am

    Coffee helps the energy level, but it makes me have to poop ~20ish minutes later so it’s either 1. no coffee before a run 2. run on campus (I live a street over from my university) and prepare to dash into a building or 3. wait around 20+ minutes until my digestive system has done its thang.

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine June 25, 2010, 9:14 am

    No pre-workout coffee for me! It causes tummy issues no matter when I drink it, so I stick to tea pre-workout. I definitely feel you on the lack of caffeine though. Whenever I don’t drink tea in the morning my workout is way tougher!

  • Kristen June 25, 2010, 9:25 am

    Your legs just wanted that run to last as long as it could 🙂 They know they will miss your old home…

  • Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries June 25, 2010, 9:25 am

    Caffeine definitely helps me out, especially for cardio! I am actually drinking iced coffee right now before I do HIIT 🙂

  • Jessica @ How Sweet June 25, 2010, 9:25 am

    I don’t drink coffee, so nope! But I have worked out in the morning for so long…like 10 years…that I think I’m used to it. There are some mornings when I wish I drank coffee cause I think it would help!

  • Taylor @ Changing Habits June 25, 2010, 9:27 am

    Yep! Gotta have my morning coffee. Before ANYTHING. A run, a shower, a conversation…anything.

    • Taylor @ Changing Habits June 25, 2010, 9:58 am

      Yep! Gotta have my morning coffee. Before ANYTHING. A run, a shower, a conversation…anything.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday June 25, 2010, 9:27 am

    What about the snack? Did you skip that too? Sometimes I find a few crackers or half a banana helps me out before a run

    • caitlin June 25, 2010, 9:43 am

      skipped that too – i wasnt even hungry when i woke up due to my big dinner.

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg June 25, 2010, 9:28 am

    I always drink coffee before a workout, and I can tell a HUGE difference when I don’t.

    Isn’t it funny how we get so used to certain running loops? When we moved from Indiana to Pennsylvania, I was really sad about having to leave my favorite running trail behind.

  • Emily June 25, 2010, 9:29 am

    I have about a 12-15 minutes drive to the gym so I always have coffee on my way there. I’ve never had any problems (knock on wood) but I always have to hit the bathroom before working out because the coffee goes straight to my bladder.

  • allison @ livingoneday June 25, 2010, 9:30 am

    i used to think i had a tough stomach, but lately i get stomach pains from just about everything unless it’s a dinner of VEGGIES. i think it’s been so long since i’ve REALLY eaten meat that if i take a bite, it messes with me. and coffee is a whole other story. ugh. i like to drink it, but if it’s in the morning it will NOT be good.

  • Courtney @ Three Months June 25, 2010, 9:31 am

    Yep! I drink coffee very early in the mornings (6am) and don’t workout until at least 9 – so I have time to fully digest my breakfast! No problems here! 🙂

  • Miranda @ Mirandasjeans June 25, 2010, 9:34 am

    I do not regularly start my day with coffee or tea. When I do reach for some java it is usually mid day when it’s a rainy grey day or after lunch and I start to hit the wall while at work. If I’m at home all day I wont reach for any coffee. So I’m good without it in my morning runs.

  • Allie June 25, 2010, 9:34 am

    i’m just terrible if i don’t have coffee before my run. i’ve tried to get up and go without, but i feel totally off. luckily i have somewhat of an iron stomach and can drink a mug and go.

  • Lauren (Clean Eats in the Dirty South) June 25, 2010, 9:36 am

    ahhhh stop talking about HLS, i wish i could go 🙁
    i don’t usually drink coffee (and i’m a college student….what?!) but i’ve noticed that if i run before breakfast i’m always exhausted and slow.

  • Bridget June 25, 2010, 9:38 am

    Coffee used to be IT for me. Now, if I don’t have something warmish (tea or coffee), I’m a bit off in anything. My pace will be down, and I will feel sluggish in general.

    Leaving where I jogged/ran in Orlando was VERY hard, and my trails hadn’t seen nearly as many of my footprints as your area has seen of yours!

    Good luck!

  • Meredith June 25, 2010, 9:38 am

    For longer workouts (2+ hours or so) and races, I always drink coffee at least 2 hours before to induce, ahem, necessary digestion functions. After 3 years of this routine, my body knows exactly what to do on a long training morning or on race day.

    For runs/bikes/swims throughout the week lasting less than one hour, I have breakfast and coffee afterward.

  • *Andrea* June 25, 2010, 9:39 am

    good luck with packing! i usually don’t have my coffee right before i run but if i have a morning workout after breakfast i include it with bfast and if i am working out at night i’ll have my latte as part of my afternoon snack

  • Robyn @ Frugal 'n' Fit! June 25, 2010, 9:41 am

    It doesn’t surprise me that coffee provides a workout boost, since it’s one of God’s greatest inventions ever 😉

    I need to try oatmeal in my smoothies!

  • Jill@Everydayoriginal June 25, 2010, 9:42 am

    Oh there cannot be any coffee before a run for me! Running already gets stuff “moving” and adding coffee to the mix would not be a fun day.

    WOW that was a whole lotta TMI. haha

  • Ellen June 25, 2010, 9:42 am

    I usually have my cup of coffee AFTER working out. I’ve never had it before exercising, but I’m too scared to try because I’m pretty sure i’d have to make a sprint for the bathroom mid-workout!

  • THe Rabbit Runner June 25, 2010, 9:47 am

    I always have coffee if I do my runs later in the morning and I am running on the treadmill because, without being to gross, it makes me pee a lot! haha so i’d rather be close to a bathroom since my running path is in neighborhoods with no toilets/trees to hide behind.

  • Jessica June 25, 2010, 9:55 am

    When I was running, if I didn’t have coffee or gatorade or some sort of snack, it was BAD.
    I can’t wait for the oatmeal bar!

  • Marieke June 25, 2010, 9:55 am

    I used to think that smoothies were rubbish to fill me up. Until I tried making them with the right combo! If I make them as a meal, I always use natural yoghurt, banana, ice, protein powder and another ingredient like mango or spinach. Tastes good, healthy and it’s filling. Perfect!

    Regarding coffee, I agree with you that it can help performance sometimes. I don’t drink much coffee but when I do I get a little hyper! I’m a coffee lightweight! And yeah, digestive issues if drinking too much haha..

  • Kelly June 25, 2010, 9:57 am

    I like coffee, but I would have to wait to go run until the digestive issues could be taken care of haha.

  • Amy June 25, 2010, 9:58 am

    I actually almost never drink caffeine, so I don’t miss it in the mornings.

    About the oatmeal, though … I’d actually recommend a quick-cook oatmeal for smoothies. I’ve tried other kinds in smoothies and the oatmeal just doesn’t break down enough for me. Makes the texture really off and hard to drink through a straw!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) June 25, 2010, 10:05 am

    i usually don’t eat or drink anything other than water before an AM workout because of digestive issues! BUT if i have some coffee in the afternoon before a workout i can definitely feel the difference 🙂

  • Marie June 25, 2010, 10:07 am

    I actually just had this same revelation on Wednesday. My Monday morning run post coffee was great, and my Wednesday run pre-coffee was awful! I also felt really sluggish– lungs felt fine, legs felt like rubber. And yes, I do have to wait a few minutes before I head out due to the “digestive issues” it causes. Glad you brought this up!

  • HTP Dad June 25, 2010, 10:12 am

    as much as I love my coffee in the morning, new research seems to show coffee doesn’t wake you up in the morning as much as get your caffeine level back up so you’re not in withdrawal – gee, thanks for ruining my morning cup, Mr. Science.

  • caronae June 25, 2010, 10:14 am

    I don’t like coffee so I don’t drink it ever. I often have tea in the mornings, but not usually before a run. HOWEVER when I do have it before a run, it seems to give me a bit more energy and hydration. Green tea+honey=good running fuel.

    The only thing I cannot eat before running is peanut butter. I see other bloggers eating it before races and workouts all the time. It gives me the most terrible digestive issues. If I eat PB, I will be making pit stops in the woods!

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing June 25, 2010, 10:14 am

    I always drink a coffee after my work outs. I lurve coffee and it’s a nice special treat to reward myself for making it through my AM sweat :).

  • Cassie @ Tasteful Tales June 25, 2010, 10:19 am

    I always have coffee first thing in the morning before any workout or else I can’t function. I have a sign in my kitchen that reads “Instant Human, Just add coffee!”

    • caitlin June 25, 2010, 10:57 am

      Hahah I love that!

  • Jessica @ Jessica Balances June 25, 2010, 10:23 am

    I muuust have coffee before working out in the morning. Must. Maybe this is a stupid question… But how do you make iced coffee? LOL

  • jenny June 25, 2010, 10:32 am

    caffeine definitely helps. My old crew coach used to encourage us to drink something caffeinated before a race haha. Although, for me, coffee makes me sick 🙁 haha

  • Olivia @ Blissful Runner June 25, 2010, 10:33 am

    They have bulk oatmeal at Costco?! Why have I not ever noticed this?! I’m such an idiot…

  • Heather ( June 25, 2010, 10:37 am

    interesting about the coffee. TOo bad I don’t drink it! good job running anyway!

  • Stephanie June 25, 2010, 10:50 am

    I HAVE to have caffeine before I run, otherwise I will get GI problems during the run. I have coffee or diet coke 30-60 minutes before I head out the door, allowing me to go to the bathroom before hand. Works like a charm every time and no emergency GI bathroom breaks mid-run!

  • Jen June 25, 2010, 10:55 am

    Uncaffeinated runs are the WORST!

    I’m a proud coffee addict. I always set the coffee pot the night before so my coffee is ready for me when I wake up. I cannot workout in the morning w/o 1/2 banana + 1/2 c. coffee. But, if I plan on doing a sprint workout, I need to let the coffee settle in my stomach for about a half hour before heading out the door.

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) June 25, 2010, 11:06 am

    If I run directly after eating, I don’t *need* the caffeine fix before a run. But if I wait about an hour or so, I start to feel the effect of not having caffeine and my run would prove to be a drag.

    Definitely a fan of having a cup of coffee before a run! 😀

  • Maria June 25, 2010, 11:15 am

    I’m caffeine sensitive, if I have it before a run I do run at a rather impressive pace. I then come home and have to cope with feeling like my head is going to explode all day.
    Now have to run without any coffee or Diet Coke :/

  • Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary June 25, 2010, 11:20 am

    I don’t *need* it, but I usually have one 8oz mug in the morning… Usually, once I get my HR up… it’s the same as having had that cup.

  • Jessie June 25, 2010, 11:25 am

    I can’t have any caffeine; it gives me migraines. =/
    Oddly enough, I’ve found that I run best when tired or sick.
    I’ve also been trying to cut time on my 5K. I ran it in 28 mins at the end of my recent sprint tri. Yesterday I ran 3 miles in 22 minutes and 59 seconds!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit June 25, 2010, 11:30 am

    I definitely need coffee if I’m doing an early morning workout. I’ve come up with a routine where I do some strength training before I run, and I’ll sip my coffee in between my exercises 🙂 haha! I feel the same way you did if I go running right away in the morning without coffee! I need my caffeine, but I usually just have one cup per day.

  • claire June 25, 2010, 11:31 am

    I pretty much need my morning coffee before a run and usually at least half a banana…even for a quick workout!

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) June 25, 2010, 11:36 am

    If I work out in the morning I need a coffee before hand. I’m not a morning person so I really need the jolt.

  • Run Sarah June 25, 2010, 11:37 am

    I definitely prefer to have a coffee before a morning run or workout. I feel it gives me an extra boost!

  • Wei-Wei June 25, 2010, 11:40 am

    I’ve heard lots of myths about coffee and caffeine to do with metabolism, adrenaline, fueling, etc… I personally am not caffeine-reliant and any coffee I DO drink (which, strangely, is black!) doesn’t seem to affect me. But I can see how people who do get affected can rely on caffeine a little bit to boost their run. Just don’t rely SOLELY on caffeine. (That’s actually rather disordered behaviour. That’s one of the tips on pro-ana websites… man, I hate having this knowledge but sometimes it’s useful :S)


  • Crystal June 25, 2010, 11:42 am

    Haha, it would definitely cause digestive issues if I had coffee in the morning right before running. In the afternoon, all is well though. 🙂 I see those green smoothies EVERYWHERE! Must make one!

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople June 25, 2010, 11:44 am

    While I don’t drink coffee, ever, I do have to go to the bathroom before I work out.

    So I have to eat and wait at least an hour to then do my business, so I can work out SANS *ahem* digestive issues. =)

  • loreejo June 25, 2010, 12:00 pm

    with the summer heat i just started running before work this week instead of after work and my times have been so much better! besides the cooler temps, i’ll bet my morning coffee is also a contributor! hope your packing goes well today!

  • Nobel4Lit (A Case of the Runs) June 25, 2010, 12:11 pm

    I read in ChiRunning that a little caffeine can do good, but food in general isn’t necessary since it won’t do what it needs to do if you’re going to “eat and run.” I think for me, it really depends on the circumstance, but since I have so many digestive issues, I usually go with not eating when I can. Also, no coffee for me for the same reason. I take caffeinated GUs during races and really long runs.

  • Jenna (Hello, I Love You) June 25, 2010, 12:39 pm

    I LOVE my coffee! I really notice a difference when I don’t drink it before my workout. Plus, there are more and more studies coming out everyday concluding that coffee is incredibly good for you! 🙂

  • Jenny June 25, 2010, 12:40 pm

    I love coffee before working out, and even if it does upset my stomach a bit it makes a big difference!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin June 25, 2010, 12:44 pm

    I always have coffee before my morning workouts. I can’t start my morning without it. 😀 I’ve heard coffee can help with exercise induced asthma and I think this may be true because I never have to take my puffer before running anymore!

  • Marissa June 25, 2010, 1:20 pm

    In the mornings I work out on an empty stomach… which is really annoying sometimes because I can definately tell my performance suffers! I really love late afternoon workouts. That’s when I have the most energy!

  • Anne June 25, 2010, 1:29 pm

    Pretty much all I can stomach right before a run is a spoonful of peanut butter and a few sips of water. If I’m working out a little later in the morning, I have a light breakfast beforehand. My morning coffee is the reward for a good workout – I think of it as my carrot-on-a-stick for getting up those last couple of hills 🙂

  • Anne @ the doctor takes a wife June 25, 2010, 1:59 pm

    I definitely think this is true!! My run this morning was painful too… I didn’t even think about the coffee thing until I read your post. I’ve read a ton of articles on the topic. I think I’ll make sure to have my morning joe before the next morning run 🙂

  • Katie @ peacbeme June 25, 2010, 2:28 pm

    I have always thought a small cup of coffee, or even half, improves my athletic performance in the AM.

    Question – I want to try my first green smoothie…can I just put the spinach in my blender or do I have to have a food processor? My dad is growing SO much spinach in his garden so we have a lot. 🙂 Love spinach!

    • caitlin June 25, 2010, 2:32 pm

      straight into the blender! you’ll love it.

  • Lauren @ Running Examiner June 25, 2010, 2:31 pm

    I definitely agree with your take on coffee. Total performance-enhancing drug! (Thankfully, it is legal in all races 🙂 ).

    I KNOW I run (and ride) better when I’ve had a little caffeine.

  • Sara (Running with Teaspoons) June 25, 2010, 3:15 pm

    I had never even considered drinking coffee BEFORE running. I love my morning coffee, but I always enjoy it after my runs! I am worried about the potential digestive issues during my run, but this might be interesting to try at some point. Good luck with packing today!

  • Heather @ Junk Food Break Up June 25, 2010, 3:40 pm

    Oh I wish I could take advantage of an extra burst of energy before a morning workout, but I can barely drink coffee any time of day without the “ahem” digestive issues 🙁

  • lisa June 25, 2010, 4:09 pm

    I do pretty well if I eat one or two dates and drink a few glasses of water before a morning run. But I have to make sure to get my cup of tea in (plus breakfast) to avoid a caffeine headache.

  • Jolene ( June 25, 2010, 6:58 pm

    Coffee used to cause issues for me in the morning … but now I have gotten used to it, and I am fine!

  • Nicole June 26, 2010, 2:07 pm

    love this discussion! I used to be a total “empty stomach” runner… even the THOUGHT of food less than an hr before working out made me feel sick, but recently I’ve tried eating a very small, light but protein/vitamin-packed snack (like half a banana smeared with almond or PB or a little Greek yogurt) and I think if I do that and wait a bit, it definitely gives me an energy boost mid-run.
    On coffee….LOVE it and I do sometimes have it, tho i think my body’s immune to caffeine, its just a mental addiction at this point haha. But yeah, waiting for the “digestion” to take place is veryyyy crucial for me too 🙂

  • Jo June 26, 2010, 5:00 pm

    I used to love a pre-workout caffeine boost! Off the stuff now though so I don’t get that anymore.

    I had been trying to run in the AM without eating anything but found that too often I just had no energy that way. Now I try to get a green smoothie first or just run in the afternoon. No food 2 hours before a run though. I don’t like running after I just ate bc I don’t want to end up keeling over at the corner!

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