Good to the Last Drop Dead: Caffeine and Marathons


#1

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#2

Something that wasn’t addressed in the article, is how these guidelines (or how caffeine in a race in general) apply to people with different genes for caffeine metabolization. Some of us metabolize it very quickly, and others very slowly. I’m sure in the latter case it’s where a lot of these problems arise, because the caffeine stays in the system so long.


#3

A long time ago I was told that these same symptoms were linked to B vitamin deficiencies. I wonder if anyone is investigating that link now, or if it has been ignored like most nutrition topics.


#4

vitamins seem a lot more probable.


#5

Yeesh, although I take this info with a grain of salt (as they mention, it isn’t that common), I am still concerned-- I LOVE to have a double shot of espresso an hour or two before running 5 miles, it really makes me run faster and feels incredible.


#6

(Editor of the piece here.) One of the outlying questions that we address in part, but isn’t as provocative, is that the heart can be damaged in long-term ways as well as one having a heart attack. The scary part is the combination of four things:

  • Ease of consuming truly huge amounts of caffeine (400 to 700 mg) without knowing you’re taking in a lot
  • Large number of people running 13 or 26 mile races with inadequate training.
  • Lack of regulation or research about effects of large-dose caffeine intake on long-distance runners.
  • The clinical studies that show a caffeine/exercise heart risk connection.

Separately, any one of those is a concern. Together, the obvious thing seems to be more education and product labeling/reformulation until there’s a clearer picture of the science.


#7

Well, that is one risk I am unlikely to take. Dodged a bullet there.


#8

Marathons are not good for your body. After a half-marathon your body is consuming itself and you are placing extreme and pointless stress on your system.

TV marathons, however…


#9

I’d say that that’s probably the #1 risk factor there.


#10

I drink lots of coffee, but for those who don’t it’s kind of a “duh”. When you run you raise your heart rate. Caffeine raises your heart rate.

If you put them together then heart raise too much. Yes. Very too much. Wow!


#11

"What’s to see? A woman from Norway, a guy from Kenya, and 20,000 losers.” -Seinfeld


#12

Most participants aren’t taking straight caffeine pills, are they? Don’t these gels and supplements and whatnot also tend to contain a whole bunch of other ingredients in addition to caffeine?

(I’ve noticed that straight caffeine pills are remarkably inexpensive compared to some of the other things being proffered. It’s sort of tempting.)


#13

Some people are taking 200 mg caffeine supplements — 200 mg in a single pill. Some carry these with them to take during races.

The gels may contain all sorts of things (they have lots of sugars and such), but they can have either no caffeine or 20 to 50 mg or more. They’re easy to consume. Some people run with gels strapped around their waist. If they are caffeine-free or 20 mg, fine. But if they are the 50+ mg ones, they could easily consume 100s.


#14

[quote=“GlennF, post:13, topic:15969”]Some people are taking 200 mg caffeine supplements — 200 mg in a single pill. Some carry these with them to take during races.[/quote]Yes, four responders out of 213. (Come to think of it, I suspect the manufacturers are likely to underplay pills, as there seems to be more profit to be made mixing them up with other ingredients and calling them “gels”.)

[quote=“GlennF, post:13, topic:15969”]The gels may contain all sorts of things (they have lots of sugars and such), but they can have either no caffeine or 20 to 50 mg or more. They’re easy to consume. Some people run with gels strapped around their waist. If they are caffeine-free or 20 mg, fine. But if they are the 50+ mg ones, they could easily consume 100s.[/quote]And they’ll easily consume many milligrams of the other all-sorts-of-things. To narrow the focus to caffeine exclusively seems specious. Just sayin’.


#15

Our poll isn’t scientific, and it’s a small sample. It’s clear from the marketing, sales figures, and increase in variety, as well as spotting runners with them, that this is part of some training and race regimes. Also, there’s a huge number of running coaches pushing caffeine without also explaining the limits well. You can find sites and posts all over about “caffeine is great during training and on race day!”

Caffeine is technically a drug. Most of the other ingredients in supplements (but not all) fall outside that. Caffeine has been tested in isolation, too.

But you’re right. It’s possible taurine in large quantities could also cause problems, but I haven’t seen research on that to this degree.


#16

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