When I ran track and cross country in high school, we heard from everyone roughly 716,000 times that caffeine is the devil. "Caffeine before a run will only dehydrate you, to death." "It'll only give you a quick boost at the very beginning and then you'll come down and crash, to death." "It'll make your recovery less effective and take longer, to death." So for the 10 years that I've been running, I tried to avoid caffeine before runs, especially the long ones. I'd skip my afternoon STEEM sandwich or coffee on days when I had a run scheduled that night, and I'd try to wean myself off it over the weekend before my long day.
As it turns out, I was being a big dumb idiot all that time.
Even the most cursory googling will enlighten you to the fact that caffeine is well-known to be non-dehydrating, performance enhancing especially for distance runners, and even beneficial in recovery. Imagine my surprise at reading this, half-awake, drinking a Schlitz, and with raw steaks on my sore leg. It was like being welcomed to the future.
So I did what any self-respecting runner who had been building up to a half marathon for four months would do on one of the last two long distance training days left before the race: I tried something completely new and different. I shoveled a bunch of delicious STEEM Caffeinated Peanut Butter into my face and went for a run.
12.5 miles later, I have one message for everyone:
The very last thing on my mind was how fatigued my legs were and how far I had left to go; my brain was busy with other important things while my legs went about their business. In an hour I had come up with two new ideas for site redesigns, three different approaches to solving an issue I had been working on for a week at my day job, and at least three hilarious puns that would later make my girlfriend cringe. As the woman who lives inside my Nike+ app kept informing me of how many miles I had just added, I kept running without a single thought to all those steps.
It wasn't until mile nine that I even started to feel actually tired. That faint muttering voice, "oh god why did I decide to do this to myself," that starts in the back of my head and grows to a louder and louder shout with every mile never even made it to a whisper. Even after I had reached my as-yet farthest distance of the past 11 months, I had to more than once check my current pace and remind my legs not to go too fast.
Of all this, the most important difference that I felt was just the crazy amount of real, actual energy that I had throughout the run, and even after. As a professional nerd and part-time lazy sack of shit, I spend most of my time sitting around staring at various glowing rectangles in a lifestyle that would not exactly be considered 'high energy'. Lately my runs had been starting to feel like they truly belonged in that same category. I needed to stop for breaks constantly, I had to really focus on making my legs keep moving me forward, and my recovery consisted of sleeping for about 14 hours and feeling fatigued for days after.
But this run was without a doubt the best run I have had in years in every possible way.
I didn't want to ever stop, and my legs agreed wholeheartedly. When I finally made it home, I didn't feel like I needed to pass out on the first flat surface I could find. I still had plenty of energy left to stretch and ice and make sure I didn't hurt for my next runs. And now, two days later, I feel more ready for tonight's run than I have for most anything in a long time.
After spending so long believing caffeine was the enemy of distance, running with STEEM's steady release of energy was nothing short of a revelation. I know I'll be enjoying a delicious sandwich for breakfast on the morning of my race so that I'll be ready to Get Going.