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Donald Lee
02-19-2009, 10:48 PM
I did a PFT (Physical Fitness Test) yesterday for the Marines, and I absolutely bombed the run. I am wondering whether drinking coffee a couple hours prior might have had a negative effect.

I just read an article from Rice University (http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/caffeine.html), which talks about the potential benefits of caffeine for endurance events but not anaerobic events. It basically says that caffeine triggers increased fat utilization, which could save more glycogen for later in the race. Personally, I thought caffeine energized me for when I lifted weights.

I rarely drink coffee, and I had never drunk coffee before anything endurance-related. I drank coffee the day before also, so I have not really developed a tolerance to the effects of caffeine. I can even feel the effects of caffeine from drinking green tea.

The article also mentioned possible dehydration and abdominal cramps if you're not used to caffeine intake.

I preface all this caffeine-talk with a couple things. I had not run for 1 and a half weeks prior to the PFT because of pain in my shins and feet. Prior to that, I was running pretty well on my intervals. I expected to run around a 23 min time. Also, I never do high rep ab exercises, so the crunches absolutely killed me. I was going really well on the crunches up until about 70 reps. I was pacing myself and at that point I decided to take a breather. This was a big mistake, because after the breather, I could only do 1 rep at a time. I only got to 85, when usually I can do 100 with about 30 sec to spare. I guess this is counter to what the T-Nation article suggested, but whatever.

On the first half mile of the run, my legs felt EXTREMELY heavy, but I went at a pretty brisk pace. Then, I just couldn't do it anymore. My legs felt so heavy that I was barely jogging. I couldn't run POSE at all. After about 1.5 miles, I began to experience extreme abdominal cramping, which I supposed was caused by the crunches, but maybe the caffeine could have contributed to that. I was definitely not dehydrated, because I drank a lot of water and pissed twice before the PFT.

I ended up running the 3 miles in 33:35, which is pathetically slow. I am looking for answers as to what could have possibly gone wrong. I could have not trained running at all and ran faster than that.

I'm more wondering about the heavy legs than the cramping, because I'm sure the crunches contributed to that.

Steven Low
02-19-2009, 11:59 PM
Yeah, that's pretty junky. I always felt it was more anaerobic than aerobic as well.

Caffeine also "delays" fatigue by blocking some adenosine pathways in the CNS.

Garrett Smith
02-20-2009, 05:43 AM
First rule--never do anything out of your ordinary routine on testing/competition day.
The article also mentioned possible dehydration and abdominal cramps if you're not used to caffeine intake.

Stuff like you mentioned above is why.

Were you running in boots? If you were, and you don't train running in boots, that could cause a problem.

It sounds to me like you need to make your training a bit more specific to this test (if it is important to you).

When I see cramping, I think magnesium first, potassium second.

Just because you drank a lot of water doesn't mean you are "hydrated".

How was your sleep in the day/week before this test?

It could just also have been a crappy day for you, but I bet we could ferret out why it happened.

Mike ODonnell
02-20-2009, 06:17 AM
When's the last time you did a workout before that? Getting enough sleep? Stressed out?

My best runs (or skates) are after not working out for 3+ days and having some caffeine.

Sometimes your legs are dead....sometimes they feel like a million bucks. Your CNS is a funny thing.

Donald Lee
02-20-2009, 08:28 AM
I wasn't in my best condition going in to the PFT. And, it wasn't done in boots. I had been running in my Vibrams, but I purchased the Mizuno Wave Universe 2.0 for the PFT. I had a normal workout week, minus the running because of the pain I had in my shins and feet. Then, on Saturday I wrestled with some friends and stayed out late. I was stressed and not fully recovered so I took Sun - Tues off for the Wed PFT. I didn't get a good night's sleep for the PFT because I had to wake up at 4 am and drive 1.5 hrs down to San Diego.

I had some eggs and a banana in the morning, so I don't think potassium was an issue with the cramping. Do you think that the cold weather made my legs heavy? I couldn't do POSE running at all because my legs were dead. Maybe the crunches fatigued my hip flexors? I usually run after 9 am, so usually it's not too cold. With the PFT, I didn't have my usual warmup jog and it was 7 am, so it was pretty cold. I did a lot of joint mobility work to warmup though.

Anyways, I think I had a Mark Twight moment for like the second time, except this time I wasn't CrossFitting. I think I actually need to build up my aerobic base again before I focus most of my running on interval training. I guess specificity, even for training for the military, can be pretty important.

Another sad thing about this is that I'm incredibly sore in my shins, feet, and quads from running that slow.

Craig Loizides
02-20-2009, 08:48 AM
A couple articles on caffeine and performance:

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0652.htm

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/caffeine-effects.html

1 recommends for endurance and 1 for short events

But, like Dr. G said, nothing new on race day.

Mike Prevost
02-20-2009, 05:19 PM
Your problem was almost certainly not the caffeine. It is likely that you just did not have the conditioning to do it any faster. You are going to need more run training to get your time down. However, you have to deal with your feet and shin issues first. You are probably going to need a SLOW build up in mileage. I don't think you need too much mileage to get the job done but obviously you are going to need more than the intervals you are doing now. When I was working with the USMC I was running sub 18 min on 10-12 miles per week at 200 lbs. Part of that was hard running in the hills though.

George Mounce
02-20-2009, 05:47 PM
I actually like caffeine (usually espresso or coffee) before I work out with a tsp of honey. I always seem to feel really great throughout the workout.

Donald Lee
02-20-2009, 10:48 PM
Your problem was almost certainly not the caffeine. It is likely that you just did not have the conditioning to do it any faster. You are going to need more run training to get your time down. However, you have to deal with your feet and shin issues first. You are probably going to need a SLOW build up in mileage. I don't think you need too much mileage to get the job done but obviously you are going to need more than the intervals you are doing now. When I was working with the USMC I was running sub 18 min on 10-12 miles per week at 200 lbs. Part of that was hard running in the hills though.

Something went horribly wrong, whether it was the coffee or not. I am sure I have the conditioning to run faster than 33:35. I could do that with zero running. I was hoping for about 23 min.

On a side note, I was doing the interval protocol in one of Brian MacKenzie's CFJ articles, prescribing 8 x 200 m intervals (total 1 mile) with 3 min rest and lowering the rest until you get down to 1 min. Then, you lower the interval time by 1-2 sec and up the rest again and work back down to 1 min. According to those calculations, I started off based on a 24 min 3-mile time. I started at 3 min rest and worked down to 1 min rest. It was all easy until I did the intervals with 1 min rest, which caused all my recent leg problems (probably because I was already tired that day).

I am wondering whether with a protocol such as this, whether I should have had a good aerobic base prior to implementing this.

Donald Lee
02-20-2009, 11:48 PM
A couple articles on caffeine and performance:

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0652.htm

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/caffeine-effects.html

1 recommends for endurance and 1 for short events

But, like Dr. G said, nothing new on race day.

Thanks for the links.

Garrett Smith
02-21-2009, 07:01 AM
I think your performance slip can easily be tracked down. I like to think I'm pretty decent at this stuff.
I had been running in my Vibrams, but I purchased the Mizuno Wave Universe 2.0 for the PFT. I had a normal workout week, minus the running because of the pain I had in my shins and feet.
Pain in your feet/shins after changing shoes that make it difficult if not impossible to run in the style you had trained in up to that point? No way! :) This race day (or race week) change is likely completely responsible for your run time being poor. Don't do that one again, no matter what anyone says about your Vibrams. If you had the pain in your feet/shins before the PFT, and after you switched to the Mizunos, your culprit is obvious. I don't care if Michael Jordan wore a new pair of shoes every game, at least he always wore the same shoes!
I didn't get a good night's sleep for the PFT because I had to wake up at 4 am and drive 1.5 hrs down to San Diego.
Poor sleep the night before and a long AM drive sure aren't going to help matters. I had a similar situation before my TSC (we drove from Tucson to Chula Vista CA in the very wee hours of the morning, something like an 8 hour drive to be at the comp. by 10am). I was used to supplement stimulants (back then ephedrine and caffeine were used), so those helped me shake out the cobwebs. I still could feel the fatigue from poor sleep, in the back seat of a car, no less.
I had some eggs and a banana in the morning, so I don't think potassium was an issue with the cramping.
If you don't normally experience cramping, then my guess is that the shoe change, lack of sleep, and your caffeine naivete is what did it in combination.Do you think that the cold weather made my legs heavy?
Not really, only for the first part of the run, unless you were way underdressed.
I couldn't do POSE running at all because my legs were dead.
I believe you couldn't do it because of your shoe change.
Maybe the crunches fatigued my hip flexors?
Possibly. To avoid this in the future, if the PFT always goes in the same order, always do your crunches before you run. That's a simple problem to fix.
I usually run after 9 am, so usually it's not too cold. With the PFT, I didn't have my usual warmup jog and it was 7 am, so it was pretty cold. I did a lot of joint mobility work to warmup though.
Next time bring a jump rope, problem solved.
Anyways, I think I had a Mark Twight moment for like the second time, except this time I wasn't CrossFitting. I think I actually need to build up my aerobic base again before I focus most of my running on interval training. I guess specificity, even for training for the military, can be pretty important.

Another sad thing about this is that I'm incredibly sore in my shins, feet, and quads from running that slow.
I think your training was plenty adequate. I think your "race day" preparation was an example of a bunch of things not to do, and you paid the price. If you learn from this experience it will likely never happen again.

Donald Lee
02-21-2009, 12:29 PM
Yeah, you're probably right, Dr. G. Except, I got the shin and feet problems with the Vibrams. The PFT was the first time I ran in the Mizunos though. I think a combination of not having done a light run a couple days prior to the PFT to loosen the legs up, the caffeine, lack of sleep, and the crunches might have all contributed to a bad run. On a side note, I might have had some chest pain at about the 3/4 to 1 mile point, but I don't remember. If I did, it was probably from the caffeine. I remember distinctly wanting to quit because I wasn't feeling great, but the Marine Corps doesn't really care about how you feel, so I finished and eventually my only problem was the severe cramping.

I started doing some weighted toe raises by tying a plate around my feet, so I'm going to see how that works to minimize shin problems.

Garrett Smith
02-21-2009, 01:49 PM
My further suggestions:

If you are getting shin and foot problems in Vibrams, running what you believe to be POSE, I'd highly suggest you spend the $$ to do a session or three with a POSE coach to make sure you are doing it right. As I understand and have experienced it, the shins are hardly involved (in terms of being stressed or fatigued) in POSE, so if you are having problems, it is either from lack of adaptation to the new style, or the possibility you are doing it incorrectly.

The chest pain could have been from the cold air and not warming up, as well as the caffeine.

Sounds like the "perfect storm" for a crappy test result. I'd say learn from it, then kick a$$ the next time.

George Mounce
02-21-2009, 03:25 PM
Post up a video of you doing Pose running, perhaps we can all help and benefit from it.

Donald Lee
02-21-2009, 03:29 PM
My further suggestions:

If you are getting shin and foot problems in Vibrams, running what you believe to be POSE, I'd highly suggest you spend the $$ to do a session or three with a POSE coach to make sure you are doing it right. As I understand and have experienced it, the shins are hardly involved (in terms of being stressed or fatigued) in POSE, so if you are having problems, it is either from lack of adaptation to the new style, or the possibility you are doing it incorrectly.

The chest pain could have been from the cold air and not warming up, as well as the caffeine.

Sounds like the "perfect storm" for a crappy test result. I'd say learn from it, then kick a$$ the next time.

Thanks for the advice. I still need to work on my POSE some more to minimize the impact that I have on the ground. I think I need practice more than coaching. Plus, I just found out that I'm broke. Credit cards can be a crazy thing...

Garrett Smith
02-21-2009, 03:47 PM
More jump rope.

Donald Lee
02-21-2009, 05:04 PM
More jump rope.

My jump rope broke about a month ago. Thanks for the reminder to purchase a new one.

George Mounce
02-21-2009, 06:45 PM
I've also found this can help too for a warm-up or for general training:

http://gymnasticbodies.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=736&hilit=senders

Craig Loizides
02-22-2009, 04:31 PM
Something went horribly wrong, whether it was the coffee or not. I am sure I have the conditioning to run faster than 33:35. I could do that with zero running. I was hoping for about 23 min.

On a side note, I was doing the interval protocol in one of Brian MacKenzie's CFJ articles, prescribing 8 x 200 m intervals (total 1 mile) with 3 min rest and lowering the rest until you get down to 1 min. Then, you lower the interval time by 1-2 sec and up the rest again and work back down to 1 min. According to those calculations, I started off based on a 24 min 3-mile time. I started at 3 min rest and worked down to 1 min rest. It was all easy until I did the intervals with 1 min rest, which caused all my recent leg problems (probably because I was already tired that day).

I am wondering whether with a protocol such as this, whether I should have had a good aerobic base prior to implementing this.

I like 8x200 a lot, but for something like a 5k I prefer active recoveries to static recoveries most of the time. My favorite is run 200 meters at about mile pace and recover with a 100 meter jog in the same amount of time. Start with about 8 reps and work up to 12-16. I'll also do run 800/ jog 400. Or you can just do a fartlek where you run a couple miles at a comfortable pace with a few periods of faster running mixed in.

The 200/100 workout is basically a Billat 30-30 workout:
http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0896.htm

You need to be a little careful with the interval work. You might recover enough aerobically to complete the next round, but your legs might not be recovered enough to run with proper form. That's when injuries occur. I usually stop with a couple rounds left in the tank.

Donald Lee
02-23-2009, 11:10 AM
I like 8x200 a lot, but for something like a 5k I prefer active recoveries to static recoveries most of the time. My favorite is run 200 meters at about mile pace and recover with a 100 meter jog in the same amount of time. Start with about 8 reps and work up to 12-16. I'll also do run 800/ jog 400. Or you can just do a fartlek where you run a couple miles at a comfortable pace with a few periods of faster running mixed in.

The 200/100 workout is basically a Billat 30-30 workout:
http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0896.htm

You need to be a little careful with the interval work. You might recover enough aerobically to complete the next round, but your legs might not be recovered enough to run with proper form. That's when injuries occur. I usually stop with a couple rounds left in the tank.

Sound advice.

I did Tabata sprints today. The form was definitely getting iffy.

Donald Lee
02-07-2010, 11:02 PM
Reviving an old thread.

International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance

Erica Goldstein , Tim Ziegenfuss , Doug Kalman , Richard Kreider , Bill Campbell , Colin Wilborn , Lem Taylor , Darryn Willougbhy , Jeff Stout , B SUE Graves , Robert Wildman , John L Ivy , Marie Spano , Abbie E Smith and Jose Antonio
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:5doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-5

Position Statement: The position of The Society regarding caffeine supplementation and sport performance is summarized by the following seven points: 1.) Caffeine is effective for enhancing sport performance in trained athletes when consumed in low-to-moderate dosages (~3-6 mg/kg) and overall does not result in further enhancement in performance when consumed in higher dosages ( [greater than or equal to] 9 mg/kg). 2.) Caffeine exerts a greater ergogenic effect when consumed in an anhydrous state as compared to coffee. 3.) It has been shown that caffeine can enhance vigilance during bouts of extended exhaustive exercise, as well as periods of sustained sleep deprivation. 4.) Caffeine is ergogenic for sustained maximal endurance exercise, and has been shown to be highly effective for time-trial performance. 5.) Caffeine supplementation is beneficial for high-intensity exercise, including team sports such as soccer and rugby, which is categorized by intermittent activity within a period of prolonged duration. 6.) The literature is equivocal when considering the effects of caffeine supplementation on strength-power performance, and additional research in this area is warranted. 7.) The scientific literature does not support caffeine-induced dieresis during exercise, or any harmful change in fluid balance that would negatively affect performance.