Dear StarbucksYour expensive coffee ROCKS!! I drink you in the morning to get me going. It sustains me on those long rides or runs. You’re there to push me through the hard days, as well as the easy ones. I love you O Cup of the Caffeine.
In all seriousness though…
Caffeine can improve endurance performance and recovery. If taken before extended periods of training or racing, caffeine can help to stimulate the brain, increase blood pressure, pulse, and acid production. It also helps to break down fat stores and distribute fatty acids into the bloods stream. This in turn allows your body to burn fat, while maintaining stores of glycogen (muscle sugar). According to Wikipedia:
Long-distance athletes such as marathon runners, cross-country skiers, and cyclists go into glycogen debt, where almost all of the athlete's glycogen stores are depleted after long periods of exertion without enough energy consumption. This phenomenon is referred to as "hitting the wall". In marathon runners it normally happens around the 20 mile (32 km) point of a marathon, where around 100 kcal are spent per mile, depending on the size of the runner and the race course. However, it can be delayed by a carbohydrate loading before the task.
When experiencing glycogen debt, athletes often experience extreme fatigue to the point that it is difficult to move.
Likewise, caffeine can also have a positive effect on recovery. A recent study, which was published by The American Physiological Society in the Journal of Applied Physiology, stated that, the body will retain 66% of its glycogen stores after extended exercise, when consumed with protein. The body benefits from this because it does not deplete its glycogen reserves between workouts. The athlete starts subsequent workouts with a higher level of glycogen, then if they had not taken caffeine.
As a last note! Like many other substances, the body will build a tolerance for caffeine. Because of this, it is suggested that an athlete abstain from large amount of caffeine between workouts because it can loose its impact on performance.
With that, I encourage everyone to drink a Cup o’ the Starbucks before and after their workouts. No more bland sports drink for this skier!