Is It Worth It? Things Runners Do to Better Their Race Performance

Is it worth it? The Just Run bloggers discuss things runners do to better their performance. |

It’s another edition of Just Run, where each month a group of my running blogger friends gather with their tips, tricks and thoughts on all things running.

In case you missed the previous editions:

Tips for the New Runner

Instagram Tips and Tricks

My Worst Race Ever

My Best Race Ever

5 Things I’d Hate to Run Without

Running Solo vs Running With a Group

Racecation Tips and Tricks

The Best Post Run Recovery Tips

This month for Just Run, we are weighing in on things that runners do to improve their performance.

Is it worth it?

There are so many different theories on what will make a runner faster and stronger. Open any running magazine, online publication or blog (hi!) and there’s advice on what you need to do to end up on the podium or at least an age group win.

We are weighing in on what we’ve found in our own training.

Will giving up alcohol during training for a goal race make you faster?

I’ve had had training cycles where I didn’t drink at all and I have cycles where I drank normally (which is about 1-2 drinks/week, maybe more some weeks).  I can’t say that I noticed a difference in performance.  What I do know is that I skip alcohol the day/night before a hard workout.  Even if I stay on top of hydration, I feel sluggish. It’s more because I don’t sleep soundly after having two or more drinks. I have powered through long runs in that state and it’s not pretty.

With everything, I think moderation is key.  Alcohol is a stressor so even though you are having a drink to relax after a hard workout, it’s delaying recovery.  If you are going to drink, make sure you are hydrated before. As a general rule, it’s probably wise to cut way back (or eliminate) alcohol at least a couple weeks before your goal race.

As for the post race drink, go for it.  Although for me, I need a couple of hours before anything alcoholic sounds remotely good.

Should I run at the same time as when the race starts?

Most races start in the morning, anytime from 7-10 is the norm.  I’ve run three races that started at non-traditional race times.  I was told by multiple people to practice running around the start time to get my body used to it.  It was also a way to plan out my morning routine of what to eat beforehand.

Was it worth it?  Yes.

I’m used to training first thing in the morning before I’ve eaten anything.  With two of the races that I did, Eastern States 20 Miler and the Boston Marathon, start time was 11:00 a.m. It’s a weird time especially when you’ve been up since 6 a.m. and have already eaten breakfast.  But practicing what to eat for breakfast #1 and/or #2 and hydration needs helped immensely.

The other non-traditional race start time was Reach the Beach Relay.  I was in van #2.  We didn’t start running till early evening.  And my second run was at 3 a.m.  Now I didn’t run at 3 a.m. beforehand, I did try to vary my run times just so my body wasn’t in complete shock.  But it did go into shock on my first leg and it had nothing to do with the run time but the latte I drank an hour before.  Lesson learned: don’t drink a latte before a run if you aren’t used to drinking lattes.

Does drinking a cup of coffee before a run/race make me faster?

I’m really not the best person to answer this question.  I like coffee but I don’t need it in the morning and I don’t drink it everyday.  I know, I know…I’m a weirdo.  When you are naturally bubbling you don’t need caffeine.  Lol!

From what I’ve heard from friends who do drink coffee, YES, coffee before a run or race is needed.  And the most important reason is because it makes you poop.  There is research that says it does make you more alert and faster but my friends only report that it gets rid of Mr. Poopy which makes one less thing to worry about.

Is it worth it?  Yes…if you regularly drink coffee already.  If you aren’t used to coffee before a run, see my lesson learned about Reach the Beach.

I do want to add that every runner is different.  What works for me may not work for you and vice versa.

Want to see what my blogger friends have to say? Check it out below and be sure to click on the image or their name to get the details.



Linking up with Coaches Corner and Wild Workout Wednesday.

25 comments on “Is It Worth It? Things Runners Do to Better Their Race Performance

  1. I agree that moderation is key with alcohol. Before my first marathon I didnt drink for 2 weeks before. Mentally I think it helped to just know I was completely hydrated and well rested. I am a coffee drinker but I’ve switched to decaf while pregnant. I do think the caffeine helps me run faster…but then again its hard to say right now because I think overall I’m just slower! But the decaf at least tricks me into thinking I’ll get an extra boost.

    1. I think if you are used to coffee pre run, skipping it will make you feel sluggish. That’s one of the reasons why I never started drinking coffee in the morning. And it just doesn’t sound good to me.

  2. This is why I love these round ups, and also why I put a “disclaimer” on mine about everyone being different! I was totally fine running at 2am in my Ragnar (although I did NOT have a latte before – LOL!) and don’t feel the need to train at the same time as a race start. I also ALWAYS have coffee in the morning (or during the day) before a race because I drink it everyday, it never affects my stomach and if I don’t, I always get a headache b/c my body is addicted to caffeine – but that’s another blog post!!
    Allie recently posted..Are These Common Race Prep Practices Worth It? #JustRunMy Profile

  3. I agree with you about the alcohol. I usually drink about the same amount as you during a training cycle, but I feel I do better if the race is a marathon if I abstain completely for about 2 weeks before the race. I am not a regular coffee drinker, either, so I don’t have that issue.

  4. I am not a big drinker in general but if I have to get up early for a run or race, I skip it. Coffee I do need but not sure it helps me w a run. I guess I am used to the caffeine I get from it. Good tips!

  5. I drink a glass of wine regularly, so I don’t feel that skipping it the night before a race has any benefit for me! I mean I could skip it, but why?

    As amateurs, I kind of feel that you need to do what you’ve done in training, more for the mental boost that you get from sticking to what works that for any physical benefits. So much of running is mental!

  6. Love this round up! I also found that drinking during training doesn’t have too much of an impact on my performance as long as, like you said, I don’t drink the night before a big run. I also don’t do coffee before, but I do guzzle it after!

  7. I usually run around the start time of the race too and I feel that it has made a difference. Particularly when I ran a half a night – I would do a lot of night runs to practice fueling and help my body adjust!

  8. I totally agree that everyone is different in how they respond – and I think for some just having particular “rituals” really helps them get in the right mindset.

  9. I noticed a difference when I was deliberate about not drinking alcohol the night before a hard workout or long run. Even if it was one beer, I felt less peppy if I did have a drink the night before. That said, I have had a beer the night before a race sometimes to calm the nerves. Coffee however is a must before a race!

  10. Well, I’m not a “routine” drinker, nor do I drink coffee (I guess I’m REALLY weird LOL). I do sometimes have a hard cider the night before a race, more to help me fall asleep than anything (and it does help me sleep because I don’t drink very often). As for coffee, like you, I don’t seem to need the caffeine to be awake and alert so I’d be very leery about drinking it on race morning.

    1. I think another reason why I’ve never experimented with drinking caffeine prior to running is that I just don’t have time to do it in the morning. I’d need to chug it but I’m sure that would have different effects…like puking.

  11. Gets rid of Mr. Poopy – LOL, love your phrasing there.

    As much as I’m typically an evening runner, I race way better in the morning. I think it’s mostly the heat – both afternoon/evening races have been peak summer

  12. Thanks for sharing these tips. I drink coffee every morning before going for a jog and I think it helps me to get going. Every runner is different so I understand that it may not be the same for everyone, but it definitely seems to help me.

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