Using a pre-workout before running is certainly trendy, but is it necessary? While running pre workouts have the potential to improve your performance, they also come with some risks.
What is a pre-workout for running?
Running pre-workouts are a drink or supplement that runners consume prior to activity, designed to improve their performance and energy.
Pre-workout formulas all vary greatly between brand and purpose, unlike other specific supplements such as BCAAs or caffeine. However, each pre workout is formulated to provide a boost of energy and hopefully increase athletic performance.
The most common ingredients found in running pre-workouts are:
What’s the difference between a pre-workout for running and lifting?
Pre-workouts for running are similar in purpose to those used for lifting and other types of exercise, however, they often contain a different formula of ingredients. Runners usually require longer, more sustained energy than workouts such as lifting.
Ingredients in a running pre-workout might be focused on providing energy for long-lasting periods, while other pre-workouts are focused on providing maximum bursts of energy.
Should you take a pre-workout before running?
Taking a pre-workout before running can be beneficial, but is not always necessary. Running pre-workouts can help improve performance while reducing the perceived effort.
Whether or not you’ll benefit from taking a pre-workout before running will depend on your own goals and physical health.
When to take a pre-workout before running?
The best time to take a pre-workout for running is 15 – 30 minutes before a run. While all preworkouts will vary in their specific formula, just about all of them are designed to be consumed very shortly before a run.
It’s important to always check the pre-workout label and follow the directions as listed, as some will vary by 30 minutes or so.
Benefits of a Preworkout for Running
There are many benefits of taking a pre-workout before running. These supplements are designed with a formula of nutrients that provide a near-immediate boost of energy, which make the run feel more manageable and successful.
Here are some of the main benefits or running pre-workouts:
- Increased muscular endurance
- Reduced perceived effort
- May prevent muscle cramping and soreness
- Helps delay muscle fatigue
- Reduces muscle breakdown during a run
These benefits certainly sound advantageous in every training season — however, there are a few potential side effects to consider before making the decision to consume one.
Downsides of a Running Pre-Workout
Prior to taking a pre-workout for running, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider. In most cases, the side effects aren’t severe, but even the most common ones are enough to cause discomfort.
Here are some of the potential side effects and cons of taking a pre-workout before running.
- GI distress (“runner’s trots”)
- Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
- Mask warning signs of fatigue
- Potential headaches
- Unregulated ingredients in some brands
For runners who want to try a pre-workout to see how it effects their body, or those who have decided that the benefits outweigh the risks, selecting the right pre-workout for your goals is an important step.
What to Look for in a Pre-Workout for Running
Educating yourself about the ingredients in running pre-workouts will help you make an informed decision that best suits your training needs. Here are some of the most common ingredients, as well as their purpose.
- Caffeine: increases energy and power by reducing perceived effort
- Electrolytes: help maintain a healthy balance by replacing those lost in sweat – most common electrolytes in pre-workouts are sodium, potassium and magnesium
- B Vitamins: assist in nervous system function and promotes optimal nerve transmission
- Green Tea Extract: natural source of caffeine that also encourages fat metabolism
- Beetroot Powder: naturally improves blood circulation by increasing nitric acid production
- Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): these amino acids have a unique structure that allows them to go straight to the muscles for immediate energy use; BCAAs have also been shown to help reduce perceived effort and improve protein synthesis
- L-Citrulline: supports blood flow and oxygenation of muscles as a building block of nitric acid, which can help improve performance as well as recovery
- Beta-Alanine: enables the body to produce carnosine, which supports cardiovascular health; in addition, it can help reduce muscle soreness and improve performance
Another important thing to look for in a pre-workout for running is FDA regulation. With so many options and brands available, a great way to initially narrow down the options is to filter out pre-workouts that are not regulated by the FDA.
Many runners have a preference for organic ingredients, which ensures that you are getting a clean, natural pre-workout. Label transparency can also provide peace of mind and help minimize uncertainties when you first begin.
7 Best Running Pre-Workouts
**Note: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. However, ALL opinions are my own.
If you are considering using a pre-workout before running, the options can be overwhelming. With different ingredients, organic versus non, running pre-workouts versus lifting pre-workouts, and so much more, making a decision can be an incredibly involved process.
To help make the decision a bit less overwhelming, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 best pre-workouts for running in 2024.
There are so many good things about this running pre-workout! It’s formulated with plant-based, organic ingredients, to start. The ingredients include only whole-food sources with no artificial additives, colors, preservatives or dyes.
It’s certified vegan, gluten-free, and an excellent source of vitamin B12 and caffeine to provide an immediate boost of energy before a run.
This pre-workout for running is formulated for optimal performance and sustained energy. Each serving provides a complete blend of amino acids, as well as an energy formula containing caffeine and green tea extract.
Much like other pre-workouts, this powder contains some artificial flavors, but is colored naturally using vegetable colors.
This USDA Organic and certified vegan formula is a great option for a running pre-workout. Each serving provides an energy and electrolyte blend, a nitric oxide blend and a focus and endurance adaptogen blend. Together, these organic ingredients combine to boost energy, improve endurance, reduce perceived exercise and optimize blood flow.
There are no grains, gluten or dairy in this running pre-workout, with only natural flavors, plus monk fruit extract and stevia for sweeteners.
This running pre-workout is specifically formulated for women. Ingredients such as amino acids, Beta Alanine, Ginseng, L-Tyrosine and natural caffeine all provide an extra boost in energy, blood circulation and muscle performance to optimize your run.
One downside of this pre-workout powder is that it does contain natural and artificial flavors, as well as silica. These additives are not always the cleanest of ingredients, and definitely something to consider in your selection.
This unique formula is created specifically with runners in mind. Each serving provides 675 mg of beet root powder, in addition to 5 mg of black pepper for optimal absorption. Beet root powder naturally improves nitric acid production and boost blood circulation.
However, because this pre-workout supplement comes in the form of tablets, it also contains various ingredients used to create a coating, as well as silica concentrate. One bonus, though, is that each ingredient is organic.
This pre-workout supplement provides a high-quality blend of amino acids designed to help increase production of nitric acid during a workout. Each serving contains natural flavors and sweeteners, and is colored using vegetable juice.
One downside of this pre-workout powder, much like many others, is that it does contain silica. However, comparatively, much of this formula is created using natural ingredients.
This running pre-workout is formulated with creatine, beta-alanine and caffeine to provide a well-rounded boost for each run and workout. These ingredients work together naturally to help reduce perceived exertion on the run.
In addition, you’ll benefit from Spectra Total Orac Blend in each serving, providing fruits and vegetables for carbohydrates.
Making the decision to take a pre-workout before running involves considering many different factors, such as your goals, fitness ability, training level, and overall health. If you decide to test out a running pre-workout, trying one of the 7 listed above is a great place to begin.
Using a running pre-workout is a very personal choice, and while it certainly isn’t necessary, it may come with some benefits that aren’t worth passing up. Test one out today to see how your performance improves!