I am on day 5 of no caffeine. With Ironman Hawaii in less than a month, I’ve formed the “Ironman safety bubble”, been abiding by 9pm bedtimes, eating clean & healthy, and cut out the caffeine. How come?
First of all, I should explain my relationship with caffeine. I am not a soda pop drinker (except for the rare 100 mile / 6hr training session) but I do have a strong affection for coffee. Good coffee. I only take one cup a day. Often times its a split shot (one shot decaf, one shot regular) latte. I’m also a french-presser shared with Chris Corbin. I love to be social, and sometimes this includes an espresso/bakery visit. I’ve never had coffee race morning. During the Ironman race, caffeine is what gets me through the day. I look forward to a CLIF espresso caffeinated gel 30 minutes before the gun goes off. 1/2 way through the bike I get going on caffeinated gels. At mile 13 of the marathon coke on ice is pretty much a saving grace. Ahhhh - I can taste it now as I type!
Last Saturday was one month before Kona. Standing in Peets coffee with Rachel Joyce in downtown San Francisco, we both (hopefully she is still holding strong—- You can do it, Rach!!) enjoyed our final cup of joe until October 9th - Ironman Hawaii race day. So, what gives?
Let’s first take a look at what caffeine provides:
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and increases the release of adrenaline, thus increasing mental awareness - which is much needed in the back half of an Ironman marathon. Caffeine also mobilizes free fatty acids in the blood. Increased FFA in the blood allows the body to use fat as a fuel source. The use of fat as fuel allows the body to spare glycogen (carbohydrates) for later use in the Ironman.
Wanting to make the most of the above situation on race day, I eliminate caffeine typically 4-6 weeks before the main event. My reasons for cutting out caffeine:
1. There is no need to mask being tired. A month out from my goal race is all about getting proper rest & recovery to make the most of my sessions.
2. Caffeine is a diuretic. This can lead to dehydration and gastric distress. Neither of which set you up for a great Ironman race. Its hot in Kona and the last thing you need is to be dehydrated race-week.
3. Cutting out caffeine a month out allows my tolerance to caffeine to decrease, so on race day I get a maximum caffeine effect. Perfect!
4. A gift to the Hawaiian Gods. Before each big event I write down a list of things I have sacrificed and given in the name of Ironman. While there are physical benefits to giving up the caffeine, I think it just as hard socially. Its something I have given and on race day I don’t forget that.
5. My Lava Java bill will be cut in half.
So there you have it. Day 5. Caffeine Free. I’ve made it nearly a week, the rest should be easy.
Thanks for stopping by!