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Home arrow Fitness arrow Running arrow Coffee Before Running: A Match Made in Heaven?

Coffee Before Running: A Match Made in Heaven?

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: February 24, 2023
5 min read 1135 Views 0 Comments
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For many people, drinking coffee is a normal part of everyday life. If you’ve decided to take up running, you might wonder whether you need to be cautious of your caffeine consumption.

Coffee before running

You might be a regular coffee drinker and can’t imagine your morning run without a brew. Alternatively, you may be curious about how drinking coffee affects your running performance.

Whatever your thoughts, it’s worth educating yourself on the role of coffee in your preferred workout. Then, you can consider the pros and cons before making the smartest move for your health goals. From adjusting your caffeine dose to switching the timing of your daily cup, there are benefits to be had.

Keep reading to discover the impact of drinking coffee before running.

Coffee Before Running: Can It Enhance Your Workout?

Drinking coffee before your run can enhance your workout performance. Caffeine is a well-researched, natural stimulant that increases energy levels and makes you more alert. These immediate benefits can provide a little boost that makes you feel more active and ready to go.

Caffeine is an ergogenic aid, which means it enhances energy utilization. Studies show caffeine intake can increase muscular endurance, strength, and movement velocity. The results of caffeine use are most consistent with aerobic exercise, which includes running.

Endurance athletes are no strangers to using caffeine as an aid for better athletic performance. Its supplementation acts as a performance enhancer, and athletes might use caffeine pills, powders, energy drinks, or a regular cup of coffee to increase their competitive chances.

Caffeine’s effects on endurance performance are not solely for athletes. You can still drink coffee before running and acquire the perks, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or professional. If a cup of coffee can give you the energy you need, it’s worth a try.

Just remember, drinking caffeine isn’t all positive. Some people might find that a pre-run coffee reduces performance because caffeine has some undesirable side effects.

Read on as we explore the pros and cons of a pre-run cup.

3 Benefits of Coffee Before Running

Should you drink coffee before heading out for a run?

Coffee and other caffeinated beverages deliver a ton of health benefits. From reducing cardiovascular risk to purportedly helping you live longer, including coffee in your diet has a long list of perks.

Here are 3 impressive advantages of consuming coffee before your run.

#1 Performance boost

Coffee has performance-enhancing benefits that may allow runners to travel longer distances and at a faster pace. Caffeine has been shown to increase speed and power output in racing conditions in both short and prolonged physical challenges.

#2 Increased energy

Drinking coffee can make you feel more energized, both mentally and physically. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, fighting feelings of fatigue and making you feel more awake and ready for race day. It may reduce perceived exertion, making your run feel more manageable.

#3 Better mental alertness

Coffee can enhance cognitive performance by increasing the perception of alertness and awakeness. The caffeine in coffee naturally stimulates your body’s central nervous system and boosts dopamine production, which can increase focus and concentration levels.

You might find coffee helpful if you’re feeling mentally groggy ahead of your run. You might feel more mentally prepared to stay on track and hit your targets.

3 Downsides of Coffee Before Running

Despite the multiple benefits, coffee remains a stimulant that can have adverse effects. Primarily, such effects occur when you consume too much caffeine or in those with sensitivity or low tolerance. Should they occur, they will likely impact your run.

Before sipping a cup of coffee pre-run, consider the below possibilities.

#1 Increased urination

Caffeine consumption has a diuretic effect, meaning it causes an increase in the frequency of urination. It can also increase the urge to urinate, which is problematic for long-distance runners. You can’t always empty your bladder while out running, so you might feel very uncomfortable.

You might want to rethink your morning cup before going for a long run.

#2 Upset stomach

Coffee can cause gastrointestinal upset in some people due to its caffeine content. The stimulating effects increase gut motility, which may cause diarrhea or loose bowel movements. Furthermore, it activates gastric acid secretion, resulting in indigestion and bloating.

#3 Side effects of a caffeine hit

If you drink too much coffee, you could experience unpleasant symptoms. Anxiety, restlessness, headaches, elevated heart rate, heart palpitations, and muscle twitches are all symptoms of a high caffeine dose. Chances are, any of them will take the pleasure out of your run.

The human response to caffeine can vary from person to person. Consider your tolerance and current caffeine levels before brewing a strong coffee before a run.

How Much Coffee to Drink Before a Run?

According to general caffeine guidelines, a person can benefit from drinking 3–6mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight around an hour before exercise. Studies suggest this low dose is enough to maintain the ergogenic effects while reducing the side effects of high doses.

The FDA recommends 400mg daily as a safe amount for healthy adults. That’s about 5 cups of coffee. As you can see, however, this is far greater than the recommendation for a pre-run caffeine dose to enhance athletic performance.

So, rather than drinking several cups to boost your sprint performance, stick to smaller amounts that deliver noticeable results without the risk of unpleasant side effects.

Lower doses are better if you’re just introducing yourself to coffee before running. You can start small and gradually increase your intake if necessary. Experimenting is an excellent way to determine the impact of taking caffeine on your body weight.

How much coffee to drink before a run also depends on how sensitive you are to caffeine and how quickly your body breaks it down. A number of factors can affect caffeine metabolism, including age, sex, lifestyle, health status, diet, smoking, and medications.

How to Drink Coffee Before a Run?

Generally, you want to drink coffee around 30 minutes to an hour before a run. This gives the caffeine enough time to reach your bloodstream and trigger the benefits. If you wait too long to run, you might miss the effects at their peak, which is typically after around 60 minutes.

Going out at this prime time will ensure you can optimize the performance benefits, like higher energy levels, better focus, and reduced discomfort.

You can time your coffee around your running schedule. For example, you might get up earlier to enjoy a coffee before running in the morning or make a point of drinking coffee about an hour before heading out on your lunch break.

If you cannot access a cup of coffee in the workplace or prefer not to drink caffeine, you can try other caffeinated products. Many runners opt for caffeinated gum or caffeine pills.

A Word From a MD

Coffee helps runners in several ways, from boosting energy levels to promoting greater mental clarity. Moreover, it contains disease-fighting antioxidants to keep your mind and body healthy. It contributes to brain health by lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Coffee works by increasing activity in the brain and nervous system. It alters the circulation of certain chemicals in your brain to produce beneficial effects. This is useful for runners, as it increases levels of endorphins in the brain, which help you achieve that runner’s high.

For the most advantages, you need to tailor your caffeine dose. It should align with your tolerance and the amount required to deliver and maintain the desired effects. Overdo it, and you might experience jitters, headaches, elevated blood pressure, heart palpitations, and more.

Of course, coffee is only a good fit for some runners. You might discover that you feel more productive without a pre-run cup. Some people prefer coffee to aid post-run recovery. Find what works for you and stick with whatever helps you reach your fitness goals.


If you lack the energy to run longer without getting tired, a cup of black coffee could be just what you need. Various studies support the benefits of consuming caffeine before running, promoting coffee as an effective performance-enhancing drug in the right amounts.

There’s nothing like that fresh smell of ground coffee beans, no matter the time of day. Try experimenting with coffee containing a mild dose of caffeine to see how it impacts your running performance.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: February 24, 2023
5 min read 1135 Views 0 Comments

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