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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

March 19, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Bottoms up: a runner’s guide to coffee

By Christine Blanchette

Christine Blanchette is an avid runner and freelance writer who lives in Burnaby, B.C. Follow her blog at

Have you heard? Runners love their coffee.

Coffee and running is like death and taxes, peas and carrots (Gump knows), ham and eggs – well, you get the idea. Although caffeine is not on the IOC list of banned substances, it does boost energy, just not in any measurable way.

Indeed, nothing about coffee is particularly beneficial, unless you need the jitters while sleeping with both eyes open, which might happen after too much java. In fact coffee is a diuretic which can cause dehydration in some people, along with nausea, headaches and cramping. None of those things makes my list of “Things I Yearn for When Running.”

Yet local coffee shops, especially those located near popular running routes, are often packed with weekend warriors carrying double talls. Some need their caffeine “fixes” before embarking, while others line up for their post-run java reward.

Yes, runners are passionate about their coffee. I wonder what would happen if someone said, “So everyone, if you’ll just put your coffee down and file out in an orderly manner …” The response to this might be: “I’ll give you my coffee when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!”

What is the link between coffee and runners? It serves as a wake-me-upper, pick-me-upper that many runners can’t/won’t go without. Besides, before or after the run or race, coffee serves as a great social event all by itself. It’s part of our culture. One needs only to note the proliferation of coffee chains like Starbucks to realize how important coffee, with its social implications, is to millions of people around the globe, never mind runners.

You may know that coffee originated in Ethiopia and was introduced in about the 15th century. As you aficionados are doubtless aware, coffee comes from a cherry that grows on a bush or tree. That cherry has a seed, or “bean” inside of it, which is then cleaned, dried, roasted, ground and then brewed. I confess to researching this from the Web, coffee in hand, naturally.

Studies suggest caffeine stimulates the brain and contributes to clearer thinking and greater concentration. However, like any new food, coffee is not recommended before running if you don’t normally drink it, especially with cream, due to gastronomical ramifications.

So there you have it. Make mine a tall blonde with a couple of honeys.

See you in a few miles.

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