Thanks again to Chris Welch for this story in The Huntsville Times.
Andrew Hodges, one of area's top triathletes, has upbeat view of caffeine
HUNTSVILLE, AL. - Andrew Hodges, one of the area's top triathletes who competes in pro events, wrote recently about a column that discussed how caffeine can affect an athlete's performance.
My friend Kay Grimsley Noller from Fleet Feet gave me some great advice when I asked what was causing my dead legs.
Kay asked about the amount of water I was drinking and the amount of caffeine. I was drinking some water and a lot of diet drinks. I've cut out caffeine and have felt a lot better on my runs. Of course, some things in moderation aren't bad - they can actually help - and Andrew has some interesting things to say about the benefits of caffeine.
"First of all, caffeine is without a doubt a performance-enhancing substance," he said. "Multiple studies have shown that it lowers rating of perceived exertion (RPE) at a given intensity level and allows subjects to go longer and/or harder in all-out efforts.
"Scientists hypothesize that this is due to its ability to enhance mental focus and/or its mild pain-relieving effect.
"Additionally, it has been suggested that caffeine improves fat-burning efficiency during endurance exercise, thereby leaving a larger amount of 'high-octane' carbohydrates to be metabolized. This theory, though, is disputed and really hard to directly test.
"Regardless, the effects of consumption are positive up to around 10-12 milligrams/kilograms, at which point they trail off. Do the math ... that is a lot."
Hodge also said caffeine doesn't cause dehydration.
"That is a myth," he said. "Caffeine does cause you to urinate more often, but it has to do with a weakening of muscles in your bladder, so the concentration of water in your blood and muscles is not affected.
"Therefore, if you are consuming caffeine in a drink, you are increasing your hydration level, not decreasing it. Practically, effects will vary from person to person.
"Some people respond to a little caffeine, others can have a cup of coffee and fall right asleep. Additionally, like any other drug, people will develop a tolerance. So the first bit of advice is that if you consume caffeine every morning, you should definitely do so before a race. If not, you'll want to experiment with it before a hard workout and see how it works."
Hodges recently finished second in the Rocketman Triathlon and was pleased.
"It was certainly disappointing to lose, but the guy that won is another pro who has been training in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center, so he's not too shabby," Hodges said.