So, I was thinking back over the week. My first week of classes and working full time went fairly well. But then I ran the 5K last Saturday. Everything started after that. I had a hard time catching my breath and felt exhausted Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Tuesday was okay, but then after my workouts on Wednesday and Thursday, I felt extremely fatigued and just plain strange.
While talking to my coworker, I realized something. Just before the 5K, I had overheard some other runners talk about the value of drinking 8 oz. of coffee right before a race. I had never heard this before, and since it was my first race, I thought I’d give it a try. Well, I was able to run further and faster than normal. Here’s why: it spikes your bp, so your heart thinks it’s already been warmed up, and thus when you begin exercise, it takes a shorter amount of time to hit the “runner’s high.”
Well, I think I overdid it. I remember my heart feeling really heavy just after finishing and I had to walk around a bit to get my heart rate down to normal. Then I thought I was okay, but I was really tired the rest of the day. I don’t normally run quite that hard, but I do 3.1 miles about 3 times a week, so it wasn’t like I was running a marathon or anything.
It was a busy weekend and I didn’t get a lot of rest. So I attributed the fatigue on Monday to lack of sleep and “self-medicated” with an increase of coffee. Turns out that’s the exact opposite of what I needed. Monday through Wednesday were significantly higher intakes of coffee than normal (3 to 4 cups each day instead of my normal 0 to 1). Yesterday, I only had 1 cup of coffee and, guess what, I slept better last night and have a ton more energy today than I have the rest of the week.
I had a similar revelation in college. My senior year, I got to the point where I was staying up till midnight studying, then getting up at 5:30 every morning to finish studying before work at 6:30. I drank too much coffee and would have heart palpitations when I’d lie in bed each night. That’s when I switched from coffee to tea for the first time. I’d been drinking more tea recently, but this week I’ve been slacking and slipping into my old coffee ways.
So, I guess I need to lay off the coffee. I’m considering dropping back to 1 cup on the weekend. My body needs water and rest primarily, not caffeine. Good thing I talk to my coworkers!