10 Best Pre-Workouts For Running

Energy is a valuable commodity. It’s something you SHOULD have lots of, especially if you eat right and get plenty of rest and sleep.

However, energy levels can fluctuate, and that’s a real problem if you are an avid exerciser.

Lack of energy can chip away at your motivation to work out, and even if you do manage to hit the gym or head out to run or cycle, you could find yourself cutting your session short just because you run out of gas sooner than expected.

A cup of coffee, a high-carb snack, and a nap is often all that’s needed to restore your energy levels. But, if that doesn’t work, you can use a special supplement called a pre-workout.

Pre-workouts contain ingredients chosen to increase energy, strength, endurance, and focus.

They’re like motivation in powder form! Some contain caffeine, while others rely on other non-stimulating active ingredients.

Many also have ingredients like amino acids and electrolytes to boot workout performance and speed up recovery.

Most pre-workouts are marketed toward gym-goers, but there are some that are ideal for runners. In this article, we reveal the ten best pre-workouts for running.

10 Best Pre-Workouts for Running

Looking for the best pre-workout for running? Here are 10 of the best, all tried and tested just for you!

Most pre-workouts are drink powders. That’s okay for gym workouts but not always the best option for runners as you may feel uncomfortable with lots of fluid sloshing around in your stomach.

This product from Performance Labs is in capsules, so some runners may find it easier to use. It’s also loaded with some great endurance and energy-boosting ingredients. 

This is an EXCELLENT pre-workout for runners.

Pros

  • Beetroot extract for better blood flow and endurance
  • 80mg of natural caffeine for energy
  • L-theanine for focus and calmness
  • Himalayan sea salt for hydrating electrolytes
  • Amino acids for sustained energy and faster recovery
  • 30 servings per container

Cons

  • Four capsules per serving
  • Quite expensive

2. Nature Fuel Power Beets

Beetroot, also known as beets, are an endurance superfood. Studies show that they can help delay fatigue and increase exercise performance by increasing blood flow to your heart and muscles.

This product is free from caffeine, which means clean, natural energy without unwanted side effects.

Pros

  • Two types of beets to maximize endurance
  • High in health-boosting antioxidants
  • Contains electrolytes to prevent dehydration
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-stim formula
  • Refreshing fruit flavor
  • 60 servings per container
  • Vegan-friendly

Cons

  • Slightly gritty texture, doesn’t mix easily

3. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Pre-Workout

Optimum Nutrition is one of the most well-known sports supplement manufactures, and their products are always top-notch.

This pre-workout is not made specifically for runners, but with a hefty dose of caffeine, it’s ideal for boosting your energy so you can run harder and faster.

Pros

  • 175mg caffeine per serving
  • Creatine for sustained energy
  • Amino acids to prevent muscle breakdown and speed up recovery
  • High in essential vitamins and minerals
  • Citrulline malate to enhance blood flow and circulation
  • Bioperine to increase the bioavailability of the other ingredients
  • 30 servings per container

Cons

  • High caffeine content could leave some users feeling anxious or jittery
  • No electrolytes

4. Organic Muscle Organic Pre-Workout

A lot of pre-workouts are loaded with artificial ingredients, such as sweeteners, colors, and flavors. While these ingredients are not necessarily unhealthy, some people prefer to avoid them when they can.

This product is 100% natural and organic and contains no chemical ingredients. It’s also a potent energizer.

Pros

  • 125mg of caffeine per serving
  • Certified 100% USDA organic
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Beets, pomegranate, and goji berries for better blood flow
  • Maca, ginger, green coffee bean extract, and yerba mate for energy and endurance
  • Green tea, matcha, and acai for increased fat burning
  • Potassium for fewer muscle cramps
  • Sweetened with palm sugar and rice syrup
  • Available in three flavors

Cons

  • Only 20 servings per container

5. BioSteel High-Performance Sports Hydration

As every runner knows, hydration is critical for maintaining performance. If you get dehydrated, your blood thickens, making it harder to pump around your body, which leads to an increased heart rate. This is called cardiac drift.

You may also experience muscle cramps as a result of dehydration. This product is very high in hydrating electrolytes, making it an excellent choice for warm-weather training.

Pros

  • B vitamins for increased endurance
  • Amino acids for energy and faster post-workout recovery
  • Electrolytes to replace those lost during sweating
  • Stim-free formula
  • Refreshing, natural flavor

Cons

  • Not a conventional pre-workout but more of an endurance-boosting sports drink

6. Truwild Motion Outdoor Active Fuel

This product is tailor-made for runners and other endurance athletes. It’s loaded with energy and endurance-boosting ingredients and designed to maximize hydration while maintaining your electrolyte balance.

Truwild Motion is suitable for use before AND during exercise.

Pros

  • 160mg of caffeine per serving
  • Plant-based formula
  • Coconut water powder and pomegranate for hydration and recovery
  • Electrolytes for fewer muscle cramps
  • Beetroot, citrulline, and taurine for energy and better blood flow
  • Organic mushroom extract to increase cardiovascular power
  • Bioperine to increase the bioavailability of the other ingredients
  • Available in three natural flavors

Cons

  • Only 20 servings per container

7. MusclePharm Assault Pre-workout Powder

MusclePharm has a good reputation for making high-quality sports nutrition products.

This pre-workout is aimed at gym users but could also help you power through your running workouts. It’s a powerful formula with lots of caffeine, but if you need a noticeable energy boost, this product will deliver.

Pros

  • 250mg of caffeine per serving
  • Creatine for lasting energy
  • Vitamins and minerals energy
  • Beta-alanine for increased blood flow and better endurance
  • Glycine to enhance hydration
  • 30 servings per container

Cons

  • Contains artificial flavors and sweeteners
  • Maybe too much caffeine for some users

8. Legion Pulse Pre-Workout Drink

Legion makes very pure, clean sports nutrition products, and this pre-workout is no exception.

It’s pretty high in caffeine but will definitely give you a noticeable increase in energy and endurance. This product is ideal for short, fast runs up to 10km.

Pros

  • 350mg of caffeine per serving
  • L-theanine to smooth the effects of caffeine
  • Alpha-GPC to boost energy and power
  • Citrulline malate to enhance blood flow
  • Beta-alanine to ward off fatigue
  • Betaine for increased endurance
  • 21 servings per container
  • Available in four flavors

Cons

  • No electrolytes
  • It may be too caffeinated for some users

9. Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer Powder

4.6/5

This product from Red Leaf is very clean and low in stimulants. It’s a very natural pre-workout that contains both energy and health-boosting ingredients.

While it won’t cause a massive energy spike, it will boost endurance so you can run at your best.

Pros

  • 40mg of caffeine per serving
  • Amino acids to preserve muscle and enhance recovery
  • Raspberry ketones for energy
  • Cranberry extract and beets for increased blood flow
  • Green tea extract for antioxidant properties
  • Naturally flavored and sweetened

Cons

  • The sweet flavor tastes a little artificial despite the all-natural flavorings

10. 6AM RUN Marathon Run

If you like to run early in the morning on an empty stomach, this is the pre-workout for you.

Loaded with energizing caffeine and muscle-preserving amino acids, this potent product should help you power through even the longest early-morning workout.

Pros

  • 175mg of caffeine per serving
  • 12 amino acids for energy and to preserve muscle mass and speed up recovery
  • Keto and vegan-friendly
  • Boosts energy, endurance, and focus
  • 40 servings per container

Cons

  • No electrolytes
  • Contains artificial flavors

FAQ

Got questions about pre-workouts? We’ve got answers! Find out more about pre-workouts for runners here.

What should a runner look for in a pre-workout?

The last thing runners need is a 400mg mega-dose of caffeine. While caffeine will give you energy, it also increases your heart rate and can leave you feeling anxious, jittery, and nauseous.

Instead, runners should look for pre-workouts that contain moderate amounts or even no caffeine, that contain electrolytes to replace minerals lost through sweating, and ingredients that increase focus while controlling stress.

Amino acids are also useful because they can help reduce muscle breakdown and speed up post-workout recovery.

Finally, choose a product that’s easy on your stomach and that tastes good; the last thing you need on a run is a belly full of something that leaves you feeling sick!

Should I take pre-workout before every run?

If you feel like you need to use a pre-workout before every run, you are probably pushing your body too hard, not getting enough sleep, or paying too little attention to your diet. Using a pre-workout before every run suggests you are not recovering properly between workouts.

Ideally, you should save your pre-workout for those days you are a) not feeling as well-rested as usual or b) want to push yourself a little harder. For example, if you are doing a longer run than usual or want to try and break your 5k record.

Ideally, you should be able to run well without taking a pre-workout beforehand, using one only when you need a boost.

When should I take my pre-workout?

Most pre-workouts are designed to be used 15-30 minutes before your workout begins. That gives the ingredients time to take effect. Check the instructions on your chosen product for more information.

Take your pre-workout too soon, and it could wear off before you reach the end of your workout. Take it too late, and it won’t take effect until you are part way through your run.

Will it make me run faster?

A good pre-workout should help you run faster and further and ward off fatigue. However, because running harder and longer than usual will take more out of your body, make sure you also respect your need for more rest and recovery afterward.

Bottom Line

Running is a great way to stay fit, lose weight, and improve your health. As well as being good for your body, it’s also good for your mind.

You can run almost anywhere and anytime, and all you really need is a decent pair of running shoes. You don’t even have to be especially athletic to enjoy the benefits of running.

If you run for general fitness, you probably don’t need a pre-workout. Listen to your body and, if you are feeling tired, just head out for a slower/shorter run than normal to give your body a chance to recover naturally.

But, if you are a competitive runner or want to improve your performance, a pre-workout could provide you with the boost you need to run further or faster than usual.

Pre-workouts are especially useful if you have a long run planned, want to do some interval training, or are going to try and break a speed or distance record. You could also use one before a race to give you an extra edge.

Remember, though, running under the influence of a pre-workout means you’ll be able to push yourself harder and longer than usual, which will take more out of your body.

Make sure you balance this by paying even more attention to rest, nutrition, and sleep, or you could find yourself suffering from overtraining syndrome.

Visit the Fitness Equipment Reviews homepage for more expert product reviews. 

Patrick

Patrick

Patrick Dale is an ex-British Royal Marine and owner and lecturer for a fitness qualifications company. In addition to training prospective personal trainers, Patrick has also authored three fitness and exercise books, dozens of e-books, thousands of articles, and several fitness videos.

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