I am not a fan of energy drinks. I always joke that those things will not only give you wings or make you monstrous, but they will also make your heart explode.
So I thought myself a little crazy when I bought a couple of 5-Hour Energy bottles on impulse. I was at the grocery store picking up a few supplies for my 24 hour run this past July and I saw a rather large display of the tiny bottles near the register. I know that it is preached that you should never try anything new during a race, but I like to live dangerously.
So I grabbed a two pack, thinking that they might do me good in the later hours when I had been awake and running for much longer than most humans should be awake and running.
Looking at the bottle confused me a bit. Each little shot only has 4 calories, which is generally not good in an “energy” product since calories are a measurement of energy.
So how does a 5-hour energy work?
The simple answer is, caffeine.
The bottle claims that the little 2-ounce shot contains the same amount of caffeine as a 12-ounce cup of premium coffee. According to a quick Google search, a 12 ounce cup of coffee contains about 142 mg of caffeine, but according to this page on Consumer Reports the original formula for 5-hour energy contains 207 mg of caffeine.
5-hour formula also contains a blend of B-Vitamins and amino acids, both of which have been linked to producing higher energy levels, but there is no scientific proof that consuming high amounts or supplementing these vitamins and amino acids will provide higher energy.
So basically, 5-hour energy is a stimulate. Taking a shot of that much caffeine will send the caffeine into your system much faster than just drinking a cup of coffee and it will stimulate your nervous system and trick your body into ignoring the fatigue it feels.
That seems fine to me when it comes to running for five, six, twelve, twenty four hours. So I gave it a go at the in24 Philadelphia.
I had been running for about 10 hours when I finally took the 5-hour energy. After a few minutes I did feel a little restless and my skin felt warm. The warning on the bottle does say that you may experience this. It is called Niacin Flush and is skin redness and a hot feeling, caused by increased blood flow.
When I ran my next loop around the river I did feel…not so much refreshed…it was more of an energized feeling. I wasn’t bouncing off the walls like a hyper child, but I did feel better while running.
5-hour energy is not something I would take in the middle of the afternoon if I was tired from sitting at a desk all day. For that I would just have a simple cup of coffee.
But for running long distances, I think it may work for giving a little extra stimulation. Especially after you have been running for hours already.
Would I drink it for anything shorter than a marathon? Probably not.
I only used 5-hour energy that one time while running, but I may give it another go at the Atlantic City Marathon in a few weeks. I will use myself as a testing dummy to see how it effects me there.