Why I Started Drinking Coffee After 27 Years of Never

Throughout the first 27 years of my life, if anyone had even mentioned the word coffee, my nose would scrunch.


When we were talking about Team Ice Cream, and I asked all of my support network which ice cream flavor was their favorite, when Drew said Coffee, I was disgusted.

How could coffee be your favorite flavor of ice cream!?

Way to ruin a good thing!

I always had a feeling deep down that I could actually grow to like coffee….especially with a flavored creamer, and a little part of me always felt left out for not drinking it. The options at a coffee shop are not exactly vast without coffee in it.

But Steve and I agreed that there was no point in drinking coffee just for the sake of it, and I was perfectly happy with my morning chai tea, which had a smaller caffeine buzz, and had become a ritual.

But then Inside Tracker came along.

I had my blood work with them the first time, and one of their recommendations was to drink coffee.

My mouth almost hit the floor…..wait! Isn’t coffee for people who are addicted and NEED it to get moving in the morning??

Why would you recommend someone get addicted to something?

I was a little skeptical, but then the little part of me that had always desired to start drinking it perked up.

When my friend Esther (Atkins) shared her elite story on my blog, she talked about how important coffee was in her pre race routine, and when I had interviewed one of the most respected experts in the running world, Alex Hutchinson, on the Run to the Top Podcast, he had also talked about how it was one of the only legal performance enhancing aids he would recommend.

I started to research, and actually, yes, lots of people use caffeine for performance, I remember reading a study (although can’t find it anywhere) that said  75% of Olympians use caffeine.

Did this have to be coffee?


But did it give me the excuse to “join the club?”


And I took that.

My first coffee ever in my 27 years of life (other than the odd sip reaffirming just how much I disliked it from time to time) was a mocha from Starbucks.

First coffee

I had been told that this was my best chance of enjoying it at first, and I have to admit I felt like a little child going into the coffee shop and having absolutely no idea what any of these words meant or which to choose.

So I took my first sip, expecting it to taste like hot chocolate with a little taste of the coffee ice cream I had tried from time to time (when there were no other options).


Nope, I still do not like coffee!!

But I soldiered on, and tried the caramel macchiato the next time from a local coffee shop, Cup of Common Wealth, and I liked it.

I didn’t LOVE it, but I could enjoy it as best I could have at that point.

You would hope so with that much sugar, right?

Something had to change though, as we were not going to be spending $5 on a coffee every time, and besides, a caramel macchiato was not exactly going to sit well the morning of a race!!!

So I purchased a creme brûlée creamer (sorry Tawnee!) and freshly ground coffee as Inside Tracker nutritionist had told me that the antioxidants would  be highest in fresh ground.

Want to know the embarrassing part?

At first I did not know I needed a machine to use it!

At home, my parents had always just used instant coffee, which you put into a cup and it dissolves, but I was in for a rude awakening when I realized this was not the case.

I purchased the cheapest coffee maker I could find, and thankfully knew enough to buy filters too.

Over time, with the creamer still at a high percentage, and on workout days suffering through without it (but using half a packet of NuNaturals Stevia instead), I noticed that I was moving from tolerating it to not minding to somewhat enjoying to looking forward to it.

Suddenly I was actually a little sad on the days where I was not drinking coffee.

Like I mentioned, we did not want me to get to the point where I needed it to function, so we kept it to workout days, long runs, and maybe 1-2 other days that I could “enjoy” it.

And here we are, a few months down the road, I actually like coffee, and enjoy it.

I rarely use creamer, just a black coffee with Stevia.

Anyone been to this diner in Philly? I miss it so much! Hollie, I know you love this!
Anyone been to this diner in Philly? I miss it so much! Hollie, I know you love this!

I do not feel a “buzz”. I do not even think I enjoy it so much for the waking up part of it, but I think it is more that it is a part of my routine, and of course I love that on occasions I can meet friends for a coffee and choose from a ginormous menu!

I have even purchased some decaf coffee to enjoy on other days!

One thing I will say though is that I do not have it past midday. I am still very sensitive to anything that will disrupt my sleep, and I know this definitely has the power to do that!

I have a whole new world of opportunities and flavors open to me. My eyes have been opened to the different styles, brands, methods, and tastes.

I am enjoying exploring this, and will continue to do so, but just making sure that the performance benefits are the priority here, so if I notice that it is not working as well, I will back off as much as I need to.

So if you were like me and avoiding coffee, here are the main two reasons you could consider it:

Performance benefits

As Alex mentioned, caffeine not only helps your body to function a little better, especially in a morning race or workout, but it will help you mentally in those last few miles, and that is where I really notice the difference.

I notice that when I have had coffee, during my workouts I can control my thoughts a lot more, and feel clearer.

A big part of this is also the changes in diet I have made, but I can notice a difference on days I have and have not had coffee.

A word of caution though, caffeine is not going to be a great idea for intervals or fartlek workouts as your pace and heart rate is changing too much.

I do still use it on these days, but just make sure you give extra caution if you try this.


As I mentioned, the original reason I decided to start drinking coffee was because of the antioxidants that would improve my blood work numbers (hello, perfectionist!) based on my Inside Tracker results.

Some have even called coffee the worlds biggest source of antioxidants, but regardless of whether that is true or not, I was missing out on those antioxidants.

Would it make a difference?

Who knows, but it was worth a try, right?

Oh, and if you need more reasons, Runners Connect has 9 reasons to start taking caffeine, including that it will help with recovery as well!


Even non coffee drinkers know that there is an unpleasant side effect that will be in full swing when you first start taking coffee……..

Let’s just say you may need a bathroom nearby.

I noticed for the first few months I had to take the coffee 3 hours before I was going to run.

Did that take away some of the benefits as the caffeine buzz had already peaked?

Probably, but I was not willing to risk stomach issues during my workout.

Over time I noticed I could gradually bring that time forward, to the point to where I can have a coffee an hour before, go to the bathroom about 20 mins later, and be on my way with no issues.

Tina Rail Trail
Thumbs up!

If you are going to start drinking coffee for the first time, make sure you account for this, it is NOT worth the stomach upset during a workout!!!

Runners Connect has some more advice on how to start taking it if you prefer something more structured than “try it” .

My intuitive approach may not work here!

As you can see, I am now a full advocate for coffee.

I may explore other caffeine sources like Run Gum or a Caffeine pill in the future, but for now I am happy with my plan, and hope that if you are a coffee virgin like me, you will see that maybe it is worth a try.

And maybe, just maybe, you will actually learn to like it 🙂

Coffee drinker or not? How do you “take it”?

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  • This makes me more excited to get my blood work done with InsideTracker (June30) but I’m already a coffee drinker and have been since I was about your age. I used to NOT drink it before a race b/c it would tend to upset my nervous stomach but, I do now and have for the past several years. I also take it black with one sugar 🙂 Love it!! Great post!!

  • Heather @fitncookies
    June 20, 2016 7:26 am

    I really want to like cofee! I guess I should try it like you, ha. Maybe I’ll eventually like it.

  • carla birnberg
    June 20, 2016 7:53 am

    Tweeted but had to say how super interesting this is. I never ever drank coffee even though I now profess my love for it on the regular 🙂 until about a decadr ago!

  • Michelle Gordon Coleman
    June 20, 2016 8:22 am

    I started drinking coffee when my then boyfriend now hubby moved in with me. I thought it was disgusting at first but worked my way up through fru fru coffee to just black coffee now. My favorite is to go to my local coffee shop and do an ole which is steamed milk on top of freshly ground, locally roasted coffee. It is amazing to taste all of the flavors of the actual coffee. Just as I am a beer snob now, I am totally a coffee snob too!

  • I love coffee and it is always my performance drink of choice. I like it with dairy-free creamer.

  • Soren Brockdorf
    June 20, 2016 9:48 am

    I think I have heard that it is the hot water that causes the potty break, not actually the coffee. What about espresso with two sugar in the raw? As an aside, I went to UF, the same school as Wendy. The QMB (quantitative methods of business) teacher asked a room of 300 students who has never been to McDonalds (he said it was statistically zero chance), and one single hand went up–yep, Wendy.

    • Oh interesting, although I definitely notice it more with coffee than I did with tea. That is funny! What made you think of that?!

      • Soren Brockdorf
        June 21, 2016 7:23 pm

        I am allergic to Fluoride, so it makes no difference what I drink, I just have to brush my teeth.
        I thought of Wendy when you said, “But did it give me the excuse to ‘join the club?’” It surprises me when I meet someone who does not drink coffee. Although 23andMe.com said my DNA was predisposed to drinking lots of coffee.

  • Christopher Carey
    June 20, 2016 11:02 am

    Like you, Tina, I’m relatively new to the coffee scene. I’m 45, and I’ve just started drinking coffee regularly over the last year or so, although before that, I had always been drinking beverages with caffeine in them.

    Running actually got me drinking coffee. I run with a group for long runs on Saturday mornings. We always start our long runs from a running store that’s next door to a coffee shop. After our runs, many of the runners will hit the coffee shop to socialize and relax. My coffee-drinking friends would always invite me to have coffee with them, but I’d always decline because up to that point, I had detested coffee (or thought I did). But I finally gave in to the peer pressure and agreed to give it a try. Didn’t like the first few cups I had, but as I continued drinking it, I began discovering that I was really beginning to like the taste if it. Eventually, I was hooked!

    Strangely enough, I started drinking coffee just black, and that’s the way I still drink it.

  • I am super sensitive to caffeine- even with no workout, I get jittery and crash pretty hard an hour or two later. I have been wanting to experiment with just a little bit pre workout but it’s something I’ll have to let my body ease in to!

  • I’m a coffee lover and have to discipline myself to only drink so much a day…or I’d be drinking it non-stop and wired to the moon! Glad to hear you can enjoy it now and that it also has some benefits because like you, I had assumed there were none up till recently. Roll on the coffee!

  • I live on coffee and have since I was 18, so this is good news! I read a study recently that also recommended coffee/tea after a workout to increase glycogen resynthesis and storage. I take it black with a shake of cinnamon – although I am picky about beans/blends (Ethiopian is my fave) and add a pinch of salt to the grounds in the filter to cut the bitterness.

  • www.jbirdruns.wordpress.com
    June 20, 2016 1:46 pm

    I love my morning coffee, although I am just fine without it. I have one packet of stevia and some nonfat milk.

  • Le Far-West
    June 20, 2016 2:44 pm

    Coffee is awesome all around. Being French, I grew up on cafe-au-lait and croissants. Like alcohol, I was drinking coffee around 10 years old. Excellent stimulant for physical expenditure too, so another great discovery and lifestyle change you have made.

    Starbuck is preposterous and sucks all around, there is nothing healthy there for anyone, and expect another $1000 minimum to disappear from your wallet each year, so I was vey glad to read you noticed that little detail. I just don’t understand how millions of people can be led by the nose by these slick marketers, it must be the herd mentality!

    Nescafe house blend @ Costco is just a few $s and will last for months. A good dose of heavy whipping cream, a tsp of chocolate Ovaltine, a tsp of sugar, with croissant or brioche/butter and you’re very happy and fueled. That’s what I had b4 a very successful 5k this Father’s day.

  • Coffee for sure! leaded and unleaded. I try not to overdo the caffeine, but I just love the taste and smell of coffee. I use almond milk creamer in it generally but sometimes it’s a nonfat latte or half and half. Total coffee lover!!

  • Runner Katy
    June 20, 2016 3:02 pm

    I try to like coffee, but keep going back to chai myself. I feel like it’s a close cousin, but no? Since most of the studies are on the positive effects of caffeine, wouldn’t other caffeine sources, like tea, have similar effects, you would just need more, in order to get the benefits? Just curious….otherwise, I guess I need to be experimenting like you all have. Great post, thanks for all the helpful hints on easing into it!

    • Hi Katy, yep I still love my chai, especially the latte’s 😉 Yeah, I think it would have the same benefit, just not as strong as the caffeine is so much less, but I definitely think you could get a lot of the effects from a large iced tea. I also wanted the coffee for the antioxidants, so thats why I switched. Happy to help if you need it 🙂

  • Shannon O'Hara
    June 20, 2016 5:56 pm

    What a great post! I was always curious about coffee, particularly the performance benefits, but had only ever had bad experiences with it, and now hate the taste. This post make me want to learn to like it. Thankyou Tina

  • I tried it in the months before Boston and it didn’t sit well with me. I was SUPER jittery and my heart was racing out of control. I decided to not try it anymore until the cycle was over. I don’t drink coffee, but I am curious to experiment again and see how my body would react the 2nd time around. Great post!

  • happyfitmama
    June 21, 2016 8:50 am

    Interesting…I drink coffee but would not call myself a coffee lover. I rarely make it at home because I can’t get it to taste good. So I splurge and get an iced coffee a few times a week from Starbucks. I had a bad reaction to having an espresso before running my first leg of Reach the Beach a couple of years ago. I thought I was going to pass out and my heart was going to explode out of my chest. Too much, too soon!

  • Me and my boyfrind are coffee lovers!!! We would only drink coffee! And we want to buy new coffee machine. We found this one called Orca Coffee https://www.orca.coffee/ Des anyone know this brand? Any opinions? Thanks!!

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