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I know if I have coffee or a caffeinated drink before a hard workout or running race that there's a clear benefit. I can tell - I can push faster with less effort.

The problem is my stomach. I have stomach discomfort during races if I'm not careful with diet. It's much worse if I drink coffee or an energy drink. (It's the usual stomach problems when racing plus the discomfort of caffeine.)

Any ideas how to minimize my stomach discomfort during a 5K or 10K race (i.e., 15-40 minute efforts) while still getting the positive benefit of caffeine?

  • How about energy drinks? – Kneel-Before-ZOD Jan 19 '15 at 16:39
  • Are you eating anything in addition to the caffeine? – rrirower Jan 19 '15 at 19:16
  • I eat a normal meal, usually 3 hrs before. If it's a morning race or hard workout, I'll eat ~2 hours before but slightly less. This seems to work OK without caffeine, but adding the coffee causes trouble. – Geoff Hutchison Jan 19 '15 at 20:29
  • @Kneel-Before-ZOD I have less, but similar effects from energy drinks. I dislike the carbonation. Haven't tried 5-hour energy or similar though. – Geoff Hutchison Jan 19 '15 at 20:30
  • You can also look into pre-workout drinks that give you energy boost; many contain caffeine though :). – Kneel-Before-ZOD Jan 19 '15 at 20:35
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This is half an answer, but should help.

Drink water when eating gels (usually has caffeine I believe) during a race, and dont drink Gatorade. Alternatively, drink Gatorade when not using gels but still drink water. For any sugar or carbohydrates eaten you need water to help digest it and use it, so people usually talk about finding a balance.

From my experience, I try not to drink/eat too much during a race. For a 5k or 10k I would not eat anything during the race, and I think this is the common view for anything less than 90 minutes. One or two bananas before a short race is good for me. The GU packets recommend one gel before the race then one every 45 minutes, so that also supports this view.

See ultra running and race reports for example dealing with the stomach problem issue because it seems to happen often and can be overcome during a race.

  • I don't use gels - I was referring more to drinking coffee or energy drinks, cola, etc. – Geoff Hutchison Jan 29 '16 at 23:23
  • @GeoffHutchison I was thinking that, so thats why I put down that its half an answer. The gels usually have caffeine too, and they will create stomach problems when used too much. Same with Gatorade alone for me. So thought it may help some. Your stomach problems may not be the caffeine too. – Jason Jan 30 '16 at 0:22
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Part of my particular stomach discomfort is probably the acidity. Using small-volume caffeine shots like "5 Hour Energy" and generic equivalents worked much better for me.

I tested a few options during hard tempo efforts and smaller races before finding a solution that has worked well during multiple target races.

The moral of the story is to experiment a bit in hard workout efforts and test races.

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you could try caffeine pills, I know for a fact they do the exact same thing as caffeine in coffee

caffeine does dehydrate your body though, this may also have something to do with it as it pulls water from your digestive tract

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    Caffeinated drinks are not dehydrating. If you are taking pure caffeine such as nodoz, it would take 2 tablets before you get to the levels seen in studies that cause increased urinary output. (Current dosage levels are 1/2 - 1 tablet every 3-4 hours which would not impact urinary output). And yes, they do the same thing as caffeine in coffee, as they are the same substance. – JohnP Jan 20 '15 at 3:53
  • Ok so after 2 tablets you would see the effects of dehydration but when you take 1 tablet it's not like there's no dehydration going on, there's not some sort of treshold. Caffeine dehydrates (even if it is in small amounts) – Gordijn_forsale Jan 20 '15 at 12:57

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