PodcastTrees and DLake

Nose vs Mouth Breathing for Endurance Athletes with Mike Trees

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mike trees and daren lake posing with graphics trees and dlake above them

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Too many runners train in ‘the grey zone’, too fast for an easy run but too slow for a hard run. Nose breathing is a natural way to ensure your easy runs are easy, because you can not supply enough oxygen to the muscles if you run too fast.

A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science showed breathing through your nose makes your heart rate higher than breathing through your mouth, at the same pace.

Yes, we go deep on this!

What You Will Learn

  • How our current training is going
  • The concept around how training actually makes you weaker
  • How, why and when breathing through your mouth vs your nose works best and for what type of runner
  • The dangers of nose breathing
  • The great debate… caffeine or not before a workout?
  • And a few more cool things to help you perform better in training, racing and life!

Notable Quotables

  • “Training makes you weaker. Rest Makes you stronger.”
  • “Nose breathing is great because it helps you check that you aren’t running too fast.”
  • “If you breath through your mouth, on hot dry days you will just have to accept that your mouth will be dry”
  • “You have to make a choice – You can’t say you want to breath through your nose and go quicker. It’s one or the other.”

Questions Of The Episode

Do you know anyone that can nose breath and race fast?

Links


NRG COACHING (MIKE TREES) – SPONSOR

This episode is brought to you by NRG – Coaching which is Mike Trees’ coaching service. Mike coaches beginners to pros and all levels in between.

No one is too fast and no one too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve.

They focus on 1,500m to marathon running and triathlon training.

NRG Coaching is constantly overbooked, so Instagram and this new podcast venture, gives Mike and the rest of his NRG coaching team a way to reach out to more people.

Contact mike and his team NRG-COACHING.com for more info

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Full Transcript Below (or download pdf here)

If you need transcripts done for your podcast, video or anything else – check out Speechdocs.com and tell them DLake Creates sent you!

[DLake Creates intro]

[Om mantra]

Daren: [00:00:08] Just like this music, nose breathing can help you relax. This may surprise some, but I never breathe through my nose when running, I find it much more relaxing to focus on controlled breathing through my mouth only. But it also doesn’t mean I’m against nose breathing. Those are the words of Mike Trees. In this episode, we want to use science and our own experience to answer the question, should an endurance athlete breathe through their nose or their mouth, and why? Find out the answer to that question and more on this episode of Trees and DLake. 

[DLake Creates theme]

Daren: [00:00:51] What is up? Welcome to Trees and DLake, a podcast series by Mike Trees, and yours truly, Daren, DLake Creates. In this series, our goal is to educate and entertain smart and committed runners, like yourself. A bit more than that, from Mike Trees. 

Mike: [00:01:03] Hi, I’m Mike Trees. I’m a professional triathlete and running coach. Been doing it all my life. The aim of this podcast is to give, in a lighthearted, amusing and entertaining way, hints and tips to help your run better and enjoy your sporting life more. Let’s see how we can go with that. 

Daren: [00:01:24] Mike’s being pretty modest. He has over 50 years of running and doing triathlons under his belt, with another 30 years of coaching committed and serious athletes. And if you’re wondering about me, I’ve been in the endurance sport game for about 25 years now. I’ve done a sub three-hour marathon and completed an Ironman Triathlon in 10 hours. So, I’d say I know a few things about what we’re talking about.

Another goal is to perform better as you age. No one is getting younger, so why not slow down the “slowing down” as Mike Tree says. Listen to us, and we’ll help you do just that. We appreciate all the help and support that we can get. So, if you can please share this episode to someone that that would like this.

Oh, quick language warning, in some rare instances, we might use some bad words, so apologies in advance for that.

Too many runners train in the gray zone. That’s too fast for an easy run, but too slow for a hard run. Nose breathing is a natural way to ensure your easy runs are easy, because you cannot supply enough oxygen to the muscles if you run too fast. A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science showed breathing through your nose gets your heart rate higher than breathing through your mouth at the same pace. Yes, we go really deep on this. Some things you’ll definitely learn on this episode. How our current training is going, the concept around how training actually makes you weaker, how, why and when breathing through your nose versus your mouth works best, for what type of runner, the actual dangers of nose breathing. Yes, there are dangers. The great debate, caffeine or not before workout, and a few cool things that will help you perform better in training racing in your life. Let’s get into the show with Mike Trees and me.

[00:03:05] All right. Hey, Mike, how are things going with you, good sir?

Mike: [00:03:09] Not too bad. I’ve had another week of training on the bike when the wife’s out and jumping off as soon as she comes home. As you know, I had the eye operation. Actually, not that I’m not allowed to train, I’m just not allowed to sweat. I figure that, so long as I don’t sweat, I’m okay. So, standing there, I’ve got the air conditioner on full blast. I’ve got a fan. You can imagine that the setup, it’s 36 degrees outside, it’s pretty hot. So, in the inside, it’s like 16 degrees as cold as I can get it with the aircon on. As soon as a drop of sweat comes on the forehead, I’ve got to wipe it off with a towel. And then, I’ve got to be off and rested up and pretend I’m not training when the wife comes home. So, it’s all going well.

Daren: [00:03:53] [chuckles] Well, I think she’s going to find out now that you’ve been on the trainer. 

Mike: [00:03:58] By the time this goes to air, I’ll be able to train, so I’ll get away with it. [chuckles] 

Daren: [00:04:02] There you go. [laughs] Me, I’m still recovering from that silly last week. You made an interesting point with not having the bacteria and the germs around me. I didn’t think about that. Obviously, I can’t do anything about it. It was probably the rest and recovery I needed. Every time people get injured and get sick, it’s like, “Oh, well, I feel much better,” because you probably needed it. It’s really hard to take it when I’m feeling really good, and I’m like, “Oh, I’m just going to keep trying, keep training.”

[00:04:36] But when I do take time off, I feel like I’m losing my edge. I know I’ll keep my aerobic base. I have a metaphor. Aerobic base is like a backpack that never goes away. You slowly lose stuff out of your backpack as you walk through the woods of not training and recovering and taking time off. I’ve heard that it takes like up to a month for your aerobic base to go away, and that loses a significant amount of aerobic base, and I know that’s a conversation for another day. How do you feel about that? I know there’s studies on that. 

Mike: [00:05:10] I’m getting old and can’t remember the exact studies, but there was a very good study years ago on that, how little training you needed to keep a minimum amount of fitness. It was in a printed paper magazine called Peak Performance, it was around in the 90s. Anyway, the bottom line is 16 weeks of 30 to 40 minutes training, three to four times a week, basically, every other day, was enough to maintain your fitness. A lot of people say, “Oh, I’m not getting anything done.” So long as you can just do it, I say to people I’m coaching, as long as you can just get out every other day and do half an hour, you’re going to maintain for 16 weeks, you’re not going to forward but you’re going to maintain. So, don’t stress about it. 

Then, the other biggie that I like to always pull in, is training makes you weaker. Rest is what makes you stronger. When you’ve got training, you’re not making yourself faster. You’re actually hurting the body and the body, it’s lazy, basically. We’re after homeostasis, we’re after a lazy, efficient, easy life, so the body thinks, “Hmm, if he’s going to hurt me, I’m going to make myself a little bit stronger. So that doesn’t hurt me next time.” And then you go out, you train a bit more, and you go, “Okay. He’s clever than I thought, I’m going to get even stronger so that doesn’t hurt me next time.” But you’ve got to have the rest periods in between to allow yourself to get stronger. 

[00:06:32] Often, a period of sickness and illness is a blessing in disguise, that it does allow the body to recover a deep, deep recovery that will allow you to train harder next time. So, don’t stress too much. I’m sure you’ll be back to those first 5ks very shortly. 

Daren: [00:06:48] Sage advice, and I do appreciate. That’s a good study. I knew about the one month, I didn’t know about the four months. So, it’s really interesting. But something that happens when I get off training, I was just doing on and off, like one day on, one day off, and it was easy, is that I start doing more obviously aerobic runs and easy runs. I focus more on my breathing when I’m running slower, and I know I should focus more on it when I’m running fast but I’m just focusing on just surviving the workout. But I can be more mindful and go, “Oh, I’m feeling this, my foot’s planting like that, where’s my stride, where is my breathing?” It got me thinking about the topic of this podcast, which was obviously breathing. So, we can get into that.

[warm-up complete]

Mike: [00:07:44] Breathing through your nose is an interesting one. For me, I didn’t think it would be a very popular post, but I put it on my Instagram page and it’s one of the most popular things that we had comments on. I was actually amazed at how many people breathe through the nose when they run. I’ve never done it. I have actually gone out and done little runs and just breathed through my nose just to check my pace and things. But generally, I decided and I’ve read other research around the subject, that the nostrils just aren’t big enough to get enough air in through your nose. At a very low, easy, slow pace, yes, you can get enough oxygen in, and so breathing through your nose might be a useful tool to make sure you don’t go too fast. But if you’re training hard, you’re not going to get enough air in the lungs breathing through your nose. So, that’s my view. 

[00:08:36] Now, if we go back a little bit further, breathing through the nose has been– I’m not against it, by the way, although I say I haven’t done it. I know that Kipchoge and quite a few Kenyans these days practice breathing through the nose. But remember, they can probably get away with like two breaths every three minutes. An easy run, they don’t use a lot of oxygen. 

Daren: [00:09:02] Let me go back to the quick story on the late 90s sports science class. It was something I was interested in majoring in at university college, ended up not going that route. Don’t know why I didn’t because now I’m like, “Man, that would have been fun.” It was late 90s, early 2000s technology, we were a bit far behind. But I just remember the sport science teacher in high school saying, “Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth is your best way to breathe.” And that wasn’t for any specific way or type of training. it wasn’t like, “Oh, this is best for endurance distance running, or this is best for sprinting or this is best for basketball.” So, I took that as the gospel, like I did with everything that this sports science teacher told me. I implemented that up until, basically, I read that article that you wrote on Instagram. Funny enough, I then realized though, the minute I started going hard, I can’t do in through my nose out, through my mouth. 

Mike: [00:10:01] I’m going to do a little test now, all these people that say, “Yeah, you’ve got to breathe through your nose the whole time,” just take one big breath– empty your lungs and take one big breath in through your nose and see how long it takes to fill your lungs up. Ready, go.

Daren: [00:10:20] That was pretty fast. 

Mike: [00:10:21] Okay, now breathe out. It’s few seconds. Now, take one big breath through your mouth. The different for me, I’ll go through my nose, It’s few seconds. Through my mouth, it’s instantaneous. 

Daren: [00:10:37] Oh, I get what you’re saying. Yeah.

Mike: [00:10:40] I’m getting that oxygen so much quicker. So, I can actually do so much more breathing. So long as my heart and lungs are efficient enough to process the oxygen in the lungs, I can get that oxygen around in the muscles much more efficiently, that I can’t do through the nose. But what I do find that if you’re breathing through your mouth, you do tense up more, you tend to be more shoulder breathing rather than diaphragm breathing. This is where the argument comes in. So, for a very easy, slow run, long, slow breaths through the nose might work for some people. We will go back to the initial question, why is nose breathing good? It’s very good to stimulate diaphragmatic breathing. People who are tense– and if you’re tense, you’re losing energy, you’re running inefficiently. Nose breathing can be good for diaphragmatic breathing to help you relax, and to help pull the lung in and get a really good exchange of breath. 

[00:11:40] If you’re just breathing from the chest and the shoulders and use the shoulders [heavy breathing] to pull it in through the mouth, you might actually be doing lots of breaths, but only exchanging the very top part of the air in your lungs and not actually exchanging the whole carbon dioxide and the whole mix in the lungs. We want to exchange all the air in the lungs, not just the top little portion. So, nose breathing may be good to get really deep, deep breaths.

And then, one other reason that I sometimes say nose breathing is good, is just to check you’re not running too fast. I’m always saying we need to aerobic running, get out there and running an aerobic pace. People come back, “What’s an aerobic pace?” They have no understanding of easy running, hard running. They just look at the watch, they even look at the watch, on their GPS on a track, which blows my mind, how you can use a GPS watch on a track when you’ve got 100-meter markers every 100 meters blows– Anyway. 

[00:12:41] They look at their watch, and it tells them how quickly they’re going and the heart rate. It could be wrong. There could be a GPS mistake, their heart rate signal might be wrong. So, you need to know how you’re feeling, not just using technology, and breathing through your nose is a very simple feedback. If you can’t run and breathe through your nose, you’re going too fast for an aerobic run. I often suggest that to beginners to get them to understand a little bit about their body. Those are the two reasons I would go along with nose breathing, for deep diaphragmatic breathing and to keep you at an aerobic pace. But apart from that, I don’t do it, and I get a lot of people say, “Oh, I race, and you’ve got to breathe through your nose when you’re racing.” Well, I know I’m going to get a lot of hate mail on this one but you just can’t get enough air in the lungs when you’re going at race pace breathing through your nose, in my view, in my opinion. So, yeah, let’s see what people have to say about that.

[ad break]

This episode is brought to you by NRG Coaching, which is Mike Trees’ coaching service. Mike and his team of coaches work with beginners to pros and all levels in between. No one is too fast and no one is too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve. They focus on 1500-meter races to marathon running and triathlon training. NRG Coaching is constantly overbooked. So, Instagram and this new podcast venture, Trees and DLake, gives Mike and the rest of his NRG coaching team a way to reach out to more people and help them. Contact Mike and his team at nrg-coaching.com or go to the link in the show notes.

[and back to the show]

Mike: [00:14:32] So, yeah, let’s see what people have to say about that. 

Daren: [00:14:35] All right, we’ve talked about when to use nose breathing, which basically it’s a check and you’re saying do it more on the easy runs, which is what I did. I did it inadvertently and not knowing in through my nose. I have, I guess, the best of both worlds and I can get pretty aerobic into my aerobic building, also known as MAF, the higher moderate heart rate, which is still aerobic and in through nose, out through mouth. But the minute I basically tip over into threshold and race pace 5k, 10k proper efforts, it’s always automatically mouth. Mouth in, mouth out. You referred to studies, which I did not know about, which is phenomenal. It’s good to hear this because I would have argued like, “No, no, it’s nose through mouth,” and not knowing that I was still going in and out through my mouth.

But when should you not use nose breathing? There’s a warning that I think, and I’ll kind of just lead in, and this is your words that I’m taking. You said, “I believe it to be very dangerous to attempt a hard run breathing through the nose, because of lack of oxygen supply to the muscles and brains and may cause you to pass out.” So, basically, if you’re going to try nose breathing, because you haven’t been doing nose breathing, because obviously, we’ve got people in two different camps. We’ve got the mouth breathers and we’ve got the nose breathers. If you are a nose breather, be careful doing it and doing hard workouts. I think it is literally impossible though to be a nose breather and do a hard workout. I was breathing in and out through my mouth thinking I was breathing through my nose, and it wasn’t until I actually was at the end of the workout, I’m like, [heavy breathing] and then I went, “Oh, I’m breathing through my fucking mouth.” I was just like, “Oh, this makes sense.” 

[00:16:16] Your body automatically goes, where’s the most amount of oxygen and it’s going to go to the least amount of resistance and the easiest place to get oxygen. Because I’m not thinking, I can’t do math, as you said, it’s simple arithmetic, when I’m at the end of a race, two plus two is very hard to figure out or– sorry, not two plus two, but it’s more like, what’s 7 times 8 minus 49? You’d be like, “Oh, well.” I can’t do that, why the hell would my brain still also go, “Keep breathing through your nose subconsciously.” It would then go, “No, I’m going to have you focus on the next poll or the next 100 meters,” or whatever. So, I digress. That’s my rant for the nose breathing, you’ve definitely opened my eyes. Do you have anything to say? 

Mike: [00:16:57] Yeah, I think that people who argue this and breathe through their noses, are just not running quick enough to go out of an aerobic pace, so that they’re running at a much slower pace where their oxygen demands are much less, so they’re able to do this. But as soon as you get to threshold, you need more oxygen in the lungs, I believe, you need to breathe through the mouth. And I’m happy for some sports scientists to come and interject and show me different science on this but so far– all top runners when they get to that threshold and beyond, they’re breathing through their mouths. But then, people did put some good comments on my post I hadn’t thought about. 

[00:17:40] In the desert, in the Middle East, they say, “Look, we get so much dust and stuff in the atmosphere, that breathing through my mouth, I just get all this dust into my lungs. Whereas through my nose, the follicles in your nose actually filter out, that’s what the nose is for. That’s why we generally read through the nose.” Normally, when we’re walking, the nose will filter out all the dust and all the crap, so that it gets caught up in mucus and then you sneeze out into the hankie or you snort it out or whatever. But if you’re breathing through the mouth, it’s going to go unfiltered straight to the lungs. So, yeah, I can see why in certain places people might want to breathe through the nose. But then I would say, “Yeah, should you be running in that weather.” If you have no other choice, that’s one thing. But also, you’ve got to keep the pace down if there’s a lot of dust in the air. 

[00:18:31] Other people say they get a really dry mouth, if they breathe through the mouth. And it’s like, “Yeah, I get a really dry mouth when I’m running.” I found that really hard to argue with because they said, “I just get a dry mouth, I can’t breathe through my mouth because my mouth goes dry.” Well, if I’m in the middle of a race, and it’s a hot, dry day, my mouth does go dry. I just accept that’s part of the things you got to put up with when you’re running, trying to do a race or trying to achieve a certain time that you have a dry mouth, and you’re gagging at the finish line for some water to wet your mouth again, but I hadn’t actually thought of that but some people just don’t like that feeling. So, they breathe through the nose, because they don’t like the feeling of having a dry mouth and no saliva in the mouth. So, that was the reason they did it.

Again, it would come back to saying, well, yep, it’s hard on the Instagram post to put this information to feed that, yes, if you do that, just accept that you will be running slower. Now if you don’t mind running slow, that’s not the problem. But if you want to end quicker, I would argue you have to breathe through the mouth and accept that on hot dry days, you’re going to get a dry mouth and it’s just not a nice sensation and just put up with it. Or, you say, “I’ll breathe through my nose if I’m going to go slower.” So, you have to make a choice. You can’t have both. You can’t sit and say, “Yes, I’m going to breathe through my nose and I want to go quicker.” It’s one or the other, in my view. 

Daren: [00:19:54] Yeah, that’s fair. To summarize it all, again based on what you’ve said in the past, for beginners to help them run slowly, yes, through the nose is fine, in through–

Mike: [00:20:05] Help you relax.

Daren: [00:20:07] To relax. Yeah, either in through the nose, out through the mouth, or in through the nose, out through the nose, for runners who are struggling to relax and deep belly breath, and then breathe through their belly to get that proper diaphragm breathing, yes, they should breathe through their nose. But people that are doing intervals, tempo, speed running, racing, no, you shouldn’t breathe through your nose to the mouth. And, yeah, we’d love to know your thoughts on this topic. Do you have anything else to add?

Mike: [00:20:33] No, that’s about it, really. I’m fascinated because I’d like to know if there is anyone out there that can actually race at a high-level breathing through their nose only. I don’t want to feel that I’m being bigoted or biased or telling people, “Oh, do this,” because there’s so many nose breathers that– it wasn’t hate mail, but so many people say, “No, you’re wrong. You’ve got to breathe through your nose. It’s the only way. It’s the only way.” I’d love to know of some quality runners that are running and only breathing through their nose the whole time and not through their mouth. And then, I’d be happy to be proved wrong. But so far, I don’t know any– if there are some studies, I’d love to read them on nose breathers breathing and running anaerobically, and running it at a high race pace through the nose. It’s fascinating. 

[main set finished]

[let’s move into the cooldown]

Daren: [00:21:27] All right, so another fun open-ended question to our listeners to end off the podcast episode. This one is about, drumroll please, [drumroll] caffeine. The reframing of this question is, do you consume caffeine before a training session? Yes or no? And why? Mike, what is your take on this? 

Mike: [00:21:51] Oh, this is a big one as he goes for his cup of tea.

Daren: [00:21:57] [chuckles] 

Mike: [00:21:58] So, those people that were listening the podcast, I’ve just picked up my big mug of tea, which is– actually tea’s got caffeine in, but not as bad as coffee. 

Daren: [00:22:07] It’s pretty high. No, I digress. Oh, sorry, not digress. I will interrupt you on that. Some black tea if you let it steep, the full five minutes, has about 80, 90 milligrams worth of caffeine in it. Depending on the coffee when it was grinded, when it was brewed, how it was brewed, you can get coffee as low as like 100, 120 milligrams and as high as 150. Some black teas are getting in the range of very close to the range of coffee if you let it steep that long. So, just letting you know, tea can mess you up with as far as caffeine goes. 

Mike: [00:22:46] Two dunks of the teabag for me, it’s wishy-washy water. 

Daren: [00:22:49] Oh, okay. You’re not getting any caffeine.

Mike: [00:22:51] I get my caffeine in the morning. Don’t worry. So, I try and get my caffeine before midday, and go to a like a watery tea after midday. Just because when I was working, in a previous life,  pro-triathlete, people may or may not be interested to know. In previous life, I was a pro-triathlete for 15 years or so. Then, I retired and set up a distribution business doing sportswear, distributing it. And we were so busy, that I lived on caffeine. We would even go out for curry 11, 12 o’clock at night, and I’d have a double espresso after the meal at midnight and go to sleep. I was so overdosed on caffeine, it actually made me sleepy. And that’s one of the things if you take too much caffeine, it actually makes you sleepy again. And then, I had irregular heartbeats, the arrhythmias and all the other stuff that goes with caffeine. 

[00:23:44] I met a very clever guy in Adamson when I was working with Newton Running in Colorado, and he was always saying, “Yep,” loves his coffee, but never have it after midday. And I thought, “Wow, that’s a great way to do it.” So, I changed and now I only have caffeine up to midday. It means I get to sleep early, and I don’t have any problems. Amazing, just changing that one thing from drinking all day to stopping at midday, I sleep through the night better, I don’t have the heart arrhythmias anymore, and I just feel so much better. So, before training, going back, do I have caffeine before training. So, on a morning, typical summer in Japan, I have to wake up at 4 o’clock. So, at 4 o’clock in the morning, I crawl to the kettle, put the kettle on and make a coffee. And then, as you do these days, you have a quick look at Instagram, drink the coffee, and then I’m out for a run. Now, if it’s an easy run, it’s just one cup of coffee and I’m on my way, and enjoy the run, and I take lots of fluid with me. But if I’ve got a hard run in the morning, it’s two and sometimes three cups of coffee before I go out the door. 

[00:25:00] So, I’ll get up at 4:00 and I won’t run till 5:00. Now, there’s various reasons for that. One is about, ooh, six years ago, now I had a bad back operation. And my back, it’s still a mess. It takes an hour for the back to loosen up. When I get out of bed in the morning, I can’t walk for the first half an hour. And eventually, after an hour, I can touch my toes and everything’s loosened up. It’s just so stiff. So that hour, it’s quite easy to get three cups of coffee in that hour while I’m waiting for the back to loosen up and walking around and stretching. But if it’s an easy run, I’ll try and just limit it to one. But if it’s a hard run, then I’ll have three cups of coffee because it gives you a little bit of a boost, it gets me mentally alert. It gets the fat burning going. It is a bit of a stimulant, and it just makes the run feel easier and less painful on a hard run. But an easy run, no, I try to limit the amount of coffee I have before an easy one, because I don’t think you need it. I could go into a lot more detail because there’s lots of technical studies on whether you should– some people say you shouldn’t train at all with caffeine and just use it on race day to help you. But then, actually in a sense, it’s almost like you’re using it as an ergogenic aid, like a– what’s the word? It’s a drug, isn’t it? It’s a legal drug, you’re using it to help you race quicker? 

Daren: [00:26:28] Yeah.

Mike: [00:26:30] It’s almost like cheating. I’m addicted this drug all the time. I just like to have it just generally– I don’t take it per se more– I don’t take it, not have it all the time and then just do it on race day. It’s like, I like coffee, I like doing my coffee, and it is a legalized stimulant. But it does make the easy runs easy– I mean the harder runs easy before. I do try just for health reasons to limit a little bit before the easy runs because I used to be addicted to coffee in a big way and drink far too much. So, that’s my little take on it. But it’d be interesting to do a podcast actually on the whole thing of caffeine. It’s not just tea. In Japan, people say, “Oh, I don’t touch coffee and things. I have healthy drinks. I have green tea.” It’s like, “Wow, man, there’s so much caffeine in green tea.” [laughs] 

Daren: [00:27:21] Yeah, the caffeine in green tea is slightly below black tea. Black tea has the highest caffeine. I’ve done some studies on my own and some research. I haven’t done my own studies, but I’ve done my own research on the studies on caffeine. And I’ll give you my answer while I’ve got the microphone literally. For me, I’m going to be against you, Mike, and I’m 99% no before training sessions, and why there’s that 1% of leeway. I’ll tell you in a second. But I’ve experimented with caffeine extensively. Since– how long? I’ve never drank caffeine. I didn’t start drinking caffeine until I moved to Australia. So, I’ll give you a quick story. I didn’t know how to order a caffeine. Sorry, order a coffee. I would always go to the cafes and just get hot chocolate or boring– I didn’t even know what the teas were back then. So, I’ve been here 10 years. And I just remember looking at the cup, like, “Why is there so many coffee options?” 

[00:28:20] And then, I just remember going and it was really quiet and the barista, she seemed nice, and she didn’t seem like she ridicule me. And I was like, “Can you explain to me these coffees? I think I want to drink one.” She was like, “Yeah. Okay, all of them start with the shot. The shot is the base. And then, it’s just the different types of milk or no milk.” I was like, “Oh my God, you have blown my fucking mind.” Well, the problem was that I came from the US, which is Starbucks culture, which is [unintelligible [00:28:46] mochaccino, blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, “Huh?” And all this is just sugar and milk, and they just went crazy with it. 

Whereas Australia, their coffee culture is probably some of the best and a lot of people are replicating it all over the world, because of the Italians, I’m going to go a history lesson, the Italians came here and they were the ones that started the expresso machine. Not espresso as American say. It’s espresso with an S, no X. This literally with an X in America, they spell expresso with an X. So, they came over with the espresso machine when the immigrants of Italy whatever it was a few 100 years ago, settled here in Australia. And then, Australians bastardized their espresso, which is just a black coffee, and started doing all these different versions of milk. And that’s when I got into it. 

Mike: [00:29:35] That would be the Pommies. 

Daren: [00:29:37] That would be the what? 

Mike: [00:29:38] The Pommies, the Brits.

Daren: [00:29:39] Yeah, the British. [crosstalk] Australians just bastardized versions of you British people. Well, this is after bike rides, I’ll tie this back to endurance. After a bike ride, everyone gets a coffee. The whole point of the bike rider is to have a coffee afterwards, you talk, you share with your mates here, and coffee tastes great after a bike ride. You get a banana bread or a muffin or some type of sandwich. And I was like, “I want to learn the coffee culture.” Love the way some of the coffee tastes, and started getting more into the black coffees and the single origins, which is the African Kenyan blends, which you don’t put milk into. It’s kind of like whiskey. And I was like, “Oh, it’s like dark chocolate.” I started going down this rabbit hole of coffee, and taste buds and the front palate, back palate and all that.

[00:30:27] Then I started realizing something. I get jitters after drinking one cup of coffee. And I was, “Oh, the coffee is really strong here.” Then, I started doing more research on how much milligrams in a cup of coffee versus tea. So, I started dropping out of tea, and I kept getting jitters. And I was like, “Okay, I’m done.” So, I basically like drink decaf now. I don’t like drinking it before runs and pretty much all training sessions except for a race prep session. That’s the only one I’ll do it, like a 5k predictor session where I’m trying to find out, am I ready for this particular race in two weeks? I’ll then do very focused espresso gel. It’s got 150 milligrams, which puts me through the absolute roof. Someone that doesn’t drink coffee, and I go to 150 milligrams, I’m like, “Ooh.”

Mike: [00:31:15] That’s huge, yeah.

Daren: [00:31:16] From the research I’ve read, you don’t get the benefits until 125, 150 milligrams, so I need to be on that top end. And as they said, even up to 300 is where it actually kicks it. I cannot do 300. That’s like three or four coffees. So, I can’t do what you do, Mike. Through all that trial and error with myself, I realized that I don’t need the coffee to feel good. Honestly, I just need some water for easy runs, and I’m fine for the harder runs or the longer runs, I can do fine with making sure I just get sugar and I’m awake. I have a lot of energy, as you probably know, I’m very hyped. I don’t need drugs, I don’t need Coke, I don’t need coffee, and coke, the drug. I’m really high off life. I’ve said that before, I’ll say it again. I can wake up early in the morning to have a good time. But like I said before, it does work for me for the races. And based on the studies and I’d have performed better from that. It does fuck my sleep up though. Excuse my language. And I need to be very careful. 

[00:32:17] So, the earlier my races, the better. If I have a 7:00 AM race, I’m down that coffee at 5:00 AM. And then, it’s out of my system by the time I go to sleep at 9:00 PM. I am not addicted to coffee. I don’t like being addicted anything., and it just doesn’t serve me well. So that’s where I stand on it. Love to hear what you think, listeners. Mike, you got anything to add to that? 

Mike: [00:32:38] No, it’s a very individual thing. Definitely. I have a high tolerance level to caffeine because I drank so much in the past. But compared to that, I drink very little. It’s three– It’s a lot compared to you. Three cups of coffee, but I stop at midday now. I do feel that it just gives me a little kick that I enjoy in the training. But I’ve never smoked. I don’t drink much anymore. In fact, since COVID been on, I can’t remember that well, to a restaurant, to a pub. So, yeah, caffeine is my one vice and I enjoy it. So, yeah, it’s a personal thing. There’s lots and lots of studies on it. It is an ergogenic aid, it does boost performance, but you’ve got to take that– If you’re caffeine intolerant like you are and you can’t take much, you’ve got to be a little bit careful because a little bit goes a long way. 

[00:33:44] A friend of mine, we were in England, we used to cycle with him, he was an ex-swimmer. There’s a new company coming out that did caffeine powders that you just added a little bit to your supplement and away you go. I can’t remember the name of the company, and this caffeine was pure out better, better aid and all the pluses that everyone tells you on the sales. He came around and he was jittering. I said, “What’s wrong?” He lives on his own and just around the corner from us and he came around and he said, “I came out to you guys because I know you guys are more sensible that anyone else and probably know what’s happened.” I said, “What have you done?” He said, “I’ve just taken a little bit of caffeine,” and it said in the tub to take one small teaspoon and dilute it to the [unintelligible 00:34:38]. I took a tablespoon of it.”

[laughter] 

[00:34:42] “I misread teaspoon for tablespoon.” He took like 10– Anyway. we rushed into A&E and they said, “Look, there’s nothing we can do. We’ll put you on a drip, dilute it a little bit, and you’re going to feel like shit for the next 48 hours.” He was in hospital for 48 hours. He said, “I feel like I’m going to die,” and that’s all he kept saying. So, caffeine overdose, it’s not fun. And he just kept saying, “Oh, thanks for bringing me here, guys.” And he said he couldn’t eat anything, he couldn’t face coffee or caffeine for ages afterwards. And he just kept saying, “I feel that I’m going to have a heart attack and die.” And the hospital said, “Yep, you’ll feel like that but you’re fine. You’re not going to die. But you’ve taken taking way, way too much.” 

Daren: [00:35:25] Oh. Yeah. They’re banned in Australia. They’re really conservative here with certain types of drugs, and they banned the powder form of caffeine. 

Mike: [00:35:38] [crosstalk] understand it. A little mistake like that, whoa.

Daren: [00:35:41] Wow. Yeah. I actually found someone eBay because I was trying to dilute it perfect. I found some on eBay, and I’m sure it was illegal. And I had it as a packet. I have a two-year-old son, and I just had it and I was like, “I don’t even want this in my house.” And I just threw it away. I was like, “I don’t need it. I definitely don’t want my son to get it, because that could literally kill him.” I was like, “Yeah, you know what? This is actually drug, it’s like having a gun in the house. I’m just going to keep this in the garbage. And I’ll just have the gel.” I keep the gels up high, and they just come out for race day, I bought six of them. I’ve got four left. And I think I bought them six months ago. So, as you can see how much I race and they just come out for race day, and that’s what I do. But yeah, like I said earlier, love to hear from what you guys, think. Everyone’s different. Again, is it yes or no? Do you use caffeine before training? There’s no right or wrong answer, and why? Let us know.

[DLake Creates theme]

Daren: [00:37:05] Is the health and fitness internet too much sometimes? Too many conflicting articles and videos that confuse you on how to train and eat right? Or, you don’t have time to just read and watch everything about, I don’t know, the new trends on carb cycling for trail running. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of all that for you. Sign up for our free email newsletter, Three Thing Thursday. We’ll put three perfectly curated and creative things in your inbox for better living and training. Go to dlakecreates.com/ttt. We do the hard, time-consuming work and scour the health and fitness internet’s deepest and darkest corners. This is so that every Thursday, you have a piping hot new email with the latest and coolest tips, tricks, tools, tactics, and skills, all so that you can train and live consistently to do dope shit in your next endurance event. Sign up now, you can receive my quick guide on how to get healthy, stay fit, and use data to create habits that last a lifetime. That’s dlakecreates.com/ttt to be inspired and motivated on the regular.

Time. Time is a resource no one can make more of. So, we appreciate you taking precious time out of your day to listen this far. Our goal is to show the world how to live better through running, cycling, and triathlon. The episode and many others have a transcription. Go to the show notes’ description to find out more. This was produced in Sydney, Australia, and I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, who are the traditional custodians of this land. I pay my respects to the elders, past, present, and future. I recognize the continuing connection to the land, waters, and culture. These lands were stolen and sovereignty was never ceded.

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