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Coffee is responsible for me starting running.

Let me explain.

One day last November, I had what used to be called "a funny turn". While I was shopping at Tesco, I began to feel light-headed. It kept getting worse in waves, until I had to abandon my trolley and go and sit in my car for a while, because I seriously thought I was going to faint. I eventually felt better enough to finish the shopping, but I still felt unwell the rest of the day, to the extent that I had to sit down to try to handle the feelings. My OH insisted that I try to get a GP appointment, and it was an indication of how I felt that I agreed. Surprisingly, I was able to see a GP an hour later!

He examined me and took my blood pressure, which he told me was too high. He arranged to get blood tests carried out, and told me to come back a week later. At that appointment, he told me the blood tests were all good (so no indication of cholesterol or diabetes) but measuring my BP again, he confirmed that that was a problem, and prescribed meds for me. He also suggested cutting down on alcohol and getting more exercise. I'd been thinking about tha latter anyway, but this gave me a kick to actually do something about it. My ex-wife told me about C25K, which I hadn't heard of before, and it seemed a good option, more practical than the swimming that I'd been considering. So I started.

Coffee? Well, I realised later, that I'd made a jug of very strong filter coffee the morning of that fateful day, intending to share it. Nobody else wanted any, though, so I ended up drinking three large mugs of it. That's what made me feel the way I did! Fate.

Today, for the first time since that November morning, I had a mug of the same coffee. I often have an espresso in the afternoon, which doesn't seem to have much of an effect, but this morning I felt a little wired as I went out for my run. I'm not sure if it affected it one way or the other, but shortly after my run, I felt a little faint again. After my post-run snack of smoked haddock on scrambled eggs, I feel better, but I don't think I'll be doing that again. A decent decaff, perhaps.

My run - second fastest 10k, 65:30. It's here - connect.garmin.com/modern/a...

10 Replies

Post run snack of smoked haddock on scrambled eggs.... that sounds absolutely yummy, and beats the hell out of a glass of chocolate milk with a quickly eaten banana. I knew I was doing something wrong!

Back to your coffee. It does indeed sound like too much of the stuff and too strong might have an unpleasant effect. There are often caffeeine in sports gels as it gives a boost of energy, so not unlikely that it might have helped with the almost-PR. But if the price to pay is that you feel faint, then it doesn't sound like it's worth it. Imagine actually fainting when being out running, that could be pretty unpleasant.

Hope you'll be totally back to your old self quickly.

Smoked haddock and scrambled eggs... yummy!


The snack is really quick and easy to prepare, and it hits the spot! I'm fine now, and didn't feel faint while I was out - possibly the adrenaline was countering the caffeine. I won't be drinking coffee like that in the morning any more.


Coffee, even instant, makes me a bit mad. I get very anxious and uncomfortable. Yet every day I drink gallons of widdly earl grey tea with no ill effects. On a Sunday morning if I make a pot of loose leaf tea and drink 2 or 3 cups, I tend to suffer similar caffeine reaction as to coffee.

I think this proves two facts with regard to tea:

(1) I drink my tea so widdly that maybe the caffeine doesn't get time to get out of the teabag and into the mug, and

(2) the average supermarket earl grey tea bag has more floor sweepings than tea!

How's your BP now? Much less I bet. Mine is so low these days I worry I may drop down dead without noticing!

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Yes, my BP is much lower, but at least some of that is down to the amlodopine he put me on! I'm hoping that in time, I'll stop having to take it.


My dad was on that but his ankles and feet swelled up so they stopped it. His BP is still ok though. When he came out of hospital he had to take about 30 pills a day and he keeps reacting to them and now only takes a few. Makes you wonder if they oversubscribe a bit ...

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Sounds like a caffeine overdose! Ironically, caffeine has been shown to reduce RPE (rating of perceived exertion) during exercise. The web is full of scholarly articles but if you want something a bit more readable, have a look at this: runnersconnect.net/running-... The upshot being that the right quantity of caffeine before a run will give you a mental power boost, improve alertness and co-ordination, aid post run recovery and basically make the running hurt less.

Anecdotally, I usually have a strong coffee first thing before a parkrun, which a) loosens things up... b) wakes me up good and proper and c) mentally makes the run feel less tough. I have to be careful though, as a habitual tea drinker if I pick the wrong coffee tab then the shakes quickly follow.



It's really interesting how different things affect people in different ways.

Caffeine has no perceptible effect on me at all and not surprisingly I don't notice any difference if I run after having had a strong coffee or not. I tried one of the (caffeine infused) gels last week just as a test and, likewise, didn't notice any difference.

My son is pretty much the same but this is in stark contrast to Mrs. Dunder and my daughter who are both pretty much bouncing off the walls if they get a whiff of strong coffee.

Needless to say, it's great that you have identified the issue and are able to do what is necessary.


I don't think it used to affect me that way. The coffee involved was a particularly potent blend, though!


I got wired on espresso! I made a load of it to put in my running bars, but made way too much, and like you no-one else had any. I was shaking like mad and had to go out running in the early hours of the morning to run it off. Lesson learned

Some good came out of this though Steve, which is brilliant. And the rest they say, is history. You've achieved so much!


Strange how life gets affected in big ways by the strangest things!


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