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  • Writer's pictureTea Para Ti

The Best Tea for Runners: A Personalized Approach to Performance and Recovery


A runner outside in a pink sweatshirt wearing white headphones, holding tea for runners

If you're a runner, chances are tea may not be the first beverage you think of drinking before, during, or after a run. But, whether you're a tea fan already or looking to incorporate something different into your workout regimen, did you know that tea for runners is actually a thing?


From their antioxidants to their quick hydration abilities, tea offers many benefits for runners. It doesn't matter if you're a regular runner or someone who feels like going for a jog every so often. Heck, even walkers will want to know all the amazing effects that tea can have!


Best of all, it's not just one tea that does the job. There are many different teas for runners that you should consider trying, which we feel trump the sports drink.


Let's learn more, full speed ahead!


The Benefits of Drinking Tea for Runners

A runner in workout gear sitting on a wooden bench drinking tea for runners

Running is an excellent way to stay fit and healthy, but it can take a toll on your body. The repetitive motion and impact can lead to muscle soreness, inflammation, and oxidative stress that require attention. Even if you're not having symptoms now, runners may experience these issues later on in life.


The good news is that tea is believed to offer a natural solution to these challenges.


Here's why tea is a perfect choice for runners:


Anti-Inflammatory properties: One of the primary challenges for runners is inflammation. The repetitive stress on your joints and muscles can lead to inflammation, which can cause pain and hinder your recovery.


Antioxidant protection: Because running generates that oxidative stress, which can damage cells and lead to premature aging. Tea, especially varieties like white tea, is rich in antioxidants that can help protect your cells from oxidative damage, promoting overall health and longevity.


Muscle recovery: Some teas contains compounds known as theaflavins, which have been shown to improve muscle recovery. They help reduce muscle damage and soreness, allowing you to bounce back faster from intense workouts.


Hydration: Proper hydration is essential for runners, and while water is the go-to choice, herbal teas like chamomile and peppermint can also contribute to your fluid intake, especially if you tend to gravitate towards a drink with some flavor.


Caffeine choices: Many runners rely on caffeine for an extra energy boost before a run. Green tea, black tea, and oolong tea all contain caffeine, which can provide the alertness and focus you need for your training sessions. On the other hand, there are many teas without caffeine (like herbal teas) that can still give you a lot of benefits but without the jitters.


Digestive benefits: Some herbal teas like ginger or peppermint can help soothe digestive discomfort, which can be a common issue for runners. Drinking these teas before or after a run may help alleviate any digestive issues, which may slow you down or cause cramping.


Stress reduction: Running can be physically demanding and mentally stressful, even if you do it regularly or enjoy it. But, herbal teas like chamomile or lavender can have calming effects that aid in relaxation and reduce the stress associated with running. Whether you're stressed and looking to run it off, or you're a little overwhelmed about the idea of working out, tea can help.


Improved sleep: Quality sleep is essential not just for recovery after a run, but to help reach all those other wellness goals you may have. Tea has many components that help encourage a restful sleep. Maybe you'll even get a nap out of it!


Weight management: If you're looking to run as a component of a healthy lifestyle, it may be helpful to know that tea can potentially offer weight management benefits. While not a replacement for a healthy diet and exercise, incorporating these teas into your routine may support your fitness goals.


Can Tea Help Runners With Exercised-Induced Asthma?

Some studies suggest that the theophylline found in black and green teas may help reduce exercise-induced asthma symptoms in some individuals, as well as herbal teas like ginger tea. However, there are more studies that need to be done and these teas should never replace your asthma medication. And, if you suffer from these conditions, it's important to talk to a physician about not just incorporating tea into your workout, but the safety of running in general.

The 10 Best Teas for Runners

Elderly people in workout gear drinking tea before a run

When it comes to choosing the best tea for runners, it's essential to consider your individual needs and preferences. Tea offers a diverse range of options, each with its unique benefits. Let's explore six of the best teas for runners and how they can enhance your running experience:


1. Green Tea — Best Overall Tea for Runners

Green tea leaves and a glass of green tea on a wooden table, demonstrating the importance of green tea being the best tea for runners

If you were to choose one tea to be the truly best option for runners, green tea is the the ultimate go-to.


To start, green tea is packed with catechins, which helps combat oxidative stress caused by intense workouts. And, for those aiming to perhaps shed pounds or maintain a healthy weight, green tea promotes fat oxidation on top of the benefits you get from running..


Finally, the natural compounds in green tea can enhance your endurance and overall performance, providing the stamina needed during runs.


2. Black Tea — Ideal for Muscle Recovery

A woman in a green tanktop pouring black tea into a mug before her run

Black tea offers a unique set of benefits that make it an excellent choice for runners, particularly when it comes to muscle recovery. The presence of theaflavins in black tea aids in post-run recovery, helping to reduce the soreness and potential muscle damage you may experience after a run.


Additionally, black tea's flavonoid content has been linked to heart health, making it a smart choice for runners who prioritize their cardiovascular well-being.


3. Oolong Tea — For Marathon Runners

A glass of longer-steeped oolong tea

Oolong tea is a the best tea for marathon runners, offering various benefits that can enhance performance and endurance. Firstly, its balanced caffeine level provides sustained energy without the jitters often associated with other highly caffeinated beverages, giving the energy you need to practice your long-distance runs. Oolong tea also promotes mental alertness and heightened focus, helping runners stay in the zone during their grueling training sessions.


4. Chamomile Tea — For the Cool Down

A glass mug holding chamomile tea next to two yellow flowers to help relax you after a run

Looking for a tea to drink post-run when the adrenaline is still running through your body?


Chamomile tea is known for its calming effects, which make it an excellent choice for helping you unwind and settle your body down after the intensity of a workout. Additionally, chamomile tea provides relief from muscle spasms and cramps, which can pop up after a run, sometimes not for some time later.


Lastly, chamomile tea helps promote quality sleep, which is another way to help you calm down after an evening run, and get you in the zone for bedtime.


5. Peppermint Tea — To Relax the Tummy

A hand making mint tea in a glass tea infuser kettle, preparing for a run

If you suffer from occasional stomach cramps during a run, or have a hard time eating shortly before (but, you're unable to adjust your schedule to eat earlier), peppermint tea is for you, as it can help runners seeking to ease gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort and maintain digestive wellness.


Peppermint tea is also a refreshing drink to have, and can also aid in relieving headaches. So, if you're the type of runner who needs a little help to get through your run for whatever reason, keep peppermint tea in your cupboard.


6. Ginger Tea — For the Never-Quit Runners

A ceramic mug filled with ginger tea and cinnamon, pieces of those ingredients lying next to it. Ginger tea for runners can help with the immune system.

Believe it or not, like green tea, ginger tea is for those very dedicated runners who will run rain or shine, even when they feel a bit under the weather themselves.


First and foremost, ginger tea helps to maintain a strong immune system, which is important if you like to run everyday, without interruption. This is in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties that can ease general muscle discomfort to help reset you for the next day.


Of course, be sure to never push yourself more than your body can handle!


7. Hibiscus Tea — For the Casual Runner

A table laden with hibiscus tea, pink candles, and painted eggs, a great tea for runners to help with hydration

Hibiscus tea is a great option for people who run every once in a while. It has a lot of great benefits, but it's also a tasty thirst quencher which can be a healthy hydrator.


In general, hibiscus tea also helps combat oxidative stress and reduce the risk of exercise-induced muscle damage, while capable of improving cardiovascular health. This makes it an excellent addition to the routine of runners aiming to give their body what it needs and start working towards running perhaps more consistently.


8. Rooibos Tea — For Electrolyte Balance

A glass of rooibos tea with lemon on a wooden coaster next to a book. This tea can help runners.

Rooibos tea is the go-to choice for runners in pursuit of electrolyte balance and enhanced performance. Electrolytes not only keep you hydrated (especially after sweating a whole bunch), but they also help to regulate muscle contractions and balance your body's pH levels. This can help to prevent cramps and that lightheaded feeling you may get if you don't hydrate well when running.


9. White Tea — For the All-Season Runner

A mug of white tea with a white flower on a woven coaster next to a fake plant. White tea can help with runners who train all-seasons

White tea serves as a protective ally for runners braving the elements, all-year round. Rain, sleet, sun, or snow — and those days where the wind bites — white tea has been associated with improved skin health, a valuable advantage for runners exposed to the rigors of outdoor training, from high elevation to running on the sand.


And, with a gentle caffeine lift, white provides a subtle energy boost, perfect for those seeking a milder stimulant effect during their runs to get through those tougher climates. It also has plenty of antioxidants which help safeguard the body against oxidative stress which can be compounded from running in harsher weather conditions.


10. Lavender Tea — To Support Your Mood Boost

A mug of lavender tea on a pink saucer, next to lavender. This tea is good for runners' mood.

Many people turn to running as a way to lift their mood; maybe to get out of a funk, or to simply start the day (or, end the day) on a positive note.


Lavender tea, therefore, can be a great choice for runners who want that extra feel-good boost from their run. Its calming properties can help reduce pre-run anxiety, ensuring a more composed mindset before a workout. Additionally, the soothing and aromatic qualities of lavender tea can uplift your spirit in general, which just takes those benefits you get from running to the next level.


Tea for Runners vs. Water & Sports Drinks

A woman in workout gear drinking iced tea from a cup through a straw

Choosing the right beverage for your runs is crucial for maintaining hydration and optimizing performance. Let's compare tea for runners with other common drinks like sports drinks and water:

Water

Water is essential for staying hydrated, and it's the most straightforward option. It's calorie-free and readily available. But, it lacks electrolytes and carbohydrates, which can be beneficial for longer, more intense runs where you sweat heavily and need to replace lost fluids and energy.


Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are designed to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost through sweating during intense exercise. They can be beneficial during long runs or strenuous workouts, helping maintain electrolyte balance and providing a quick source of energy (carbohydrates). However, sports drinks often contain added sugars and calories, which may not be necessary for shorter runs or those focused on weight management.


Tea

Tea can contribute to hydration, especially when consumed as a cold beverage or iced tea. It has so many benefits for runners, but the only downside is it may not be as accessible as water or sports drinks. Having tea before, during, or, after a run takes some thought and preparation, especially if you're looking for a tea that suits your needs and goals as a runner best.


How to Incorporate Tea into Your Running Routine

A woman in athletic gear sitting outside at a cafe drinking a tea to help with her run

Now that you know which teas can benefit you as a runner, it's time to incorporate them into your daily routine. Here's how to do it effectively:


Pre-Run Boost: Kick-start your running routine with a cup of green or black tea. These teas are like a natural shot of caffeine that can give you the boost you need to conquer your workout. They'll amp up your alertness and provide a steady stream of energy, perfect for those early morning or high-intensity runs.


During a Run: Staying hydrated during your run is crucial, and while water is your trusty ally, herbal teas can also be a game-changer. Consider mint or hibiscus tea. Not only do they add a touch of flavor, but they might also provide performance benefits. Sipping on a well-steeped herbal tea can be a refreshing way to keep your body fueled and your taste buds satisfied while on the move.


Post-Run Recovery: After you've pushed your limits, it's time to pamper your body. Reach for chamomile or ginger tea to help ease muscle soreness and promote relaxation. Think of it as a warm, soothing hug for your tired muscles. Hydration is key here, too, so sipping on these teas not only aids recovery but also keeps you well-hydrated after your run. It's a win-win for your body and your taste buds.


Health Considerations Before Drinking Tea

A woman running outside pouring tea into a mug from her thermos

Though tea has loads of benefits for runners, there are still some things to take into consideration:


Be aware of caffeine levels: Be mindful of tea's caffeine content. While it can provide a temporary energy boost, excessive consumption may lead to jitters, increased heart rate, and digestive discomfort, which no one wants to experience before, during, or after a run. The good news is that there are teas that are lower in caffeine or caffeine-free.


Take your tea cold: Unless you have a safe way to bring tea along for the run, it's best to take tea cold in order to prevent accidental burns while running. Of course, if you're drinking your tea before or after, then it's really up to personal preference.


Drink in moderation: Tea is best enjoyed in moderation, especially if you're incorporating it into your runs. Excessive consumption can result in problems like insomnia, elevated heart rate, or an unsettled stomach. Stick to recommended daily limits, which are typically around 3-4 cups of caffeinated tea for most individuals.


Go-to H2O: While tea can be a valuable addition to a runner's regimen, remember that nothing beats water when it comes to staying well-hydrated and healthy.


Ultimately, while tea can help you in loads of ways, you should a consult a healthcare professional if you have medical conditions, take regular medications, have allergies, sensitivities, or are pregnant/breastfeeding, before introducing tea into your run (or running in general).


Try Tea on Your Next Run!

A woman stretching before going on a run

Tea for runners is more than just a way to hydrate; it can actually be a way to enhance performance and promoting recovery. Best of all, because so many teas have a plethora of benefits, you can choose which tea you feel supports your run best. Whether you're training for a marathon or enjoying a leisurely jog, tea — with its hydration qualities, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and more — can boost your running experience.


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